In today’s selfie era, how do you make your event Instagrammable?
It’s no secret. Experiential marketing and social media go together. Research shows that 98% of consumers create digital or social content at branded experiences, and 100% of those people share that content.
Everyone loves an Instagrammable experience!
Perhaps that’s why there has been a rise in successful “Insta museums” – exhibit spaces designed for social sharing. Examples include: Refinery29’s 29Rooms, the Museum of Ice Cream, Color Factory, the Hall of Breakfast and Dream Machine. Many of these pop-up museums are created by artists and are ticketed exhibits, but brands are taking note.
Essence and Toyota paired up to create a sensory wonderland experience. Designed with the theme of AfroFuturistic, this one-day event was a multi-sensory experience created to tap into driver emotions. Each exhibit activated a sense that you may feel when you take the wheel of a new Camry. Hunger, boom, lust, throb, pulse and drool were each represented in its own sensory room. Each sensation had a vignette designed that would specifically arouse that sense.
For example, inside the pulse room there were large photograph-able pipes where visitors could hear the engines rev. Inside the throb room, a 5-foot inflatable heart captured many camera lenses while EKG monitors echoed around the room. A maze of red velvet curtains was part of the rose-scented lust room. And finally Camry succeeded in getting “butts in seats” in the drool room. This is where a visitor could sit inside a Camry while a unique light-wave projection created a savory experience.
These visual experiences are filled with shareable content. When executed well, guests will naturally want to pull out their phones and start sharing. This is an excellent way to amplify your brand’s reach beyond the physical attendees to your live event.
Here are our 10 tips to making your brand experience Instagrammable:
1- VISUAL DESIGN
Instagram is a visual channel. So visual design must be at the top of your checklist.
Theme your experience according to your message, audience and the emotions you hope to provoke. Find ways to bring your designs together cohesively, so it feels like your brand throughout the entire space. Think creatively about how your physical exhibits will fit inside a digital Instagram photograph. Then get creative!
To get your juices flowing, here are some visually stunning ideas that have been incorporated at various events:
- Walls covered with florals for both an elegant and three-dimensional look
- Lights or balloons filling the ceiling
- Large, freestanding 3D foam or fiberglass models of a logo or lettering
- Unique lighting motifs
Be surprising. Find delightful ways to add awe in the entire environment around a visitor.
Full immersion into a new world – such as an undersea adventure or on a moonwalk – will be very impactful. Yet, simplicity is okay, too. Creative banner backdrops, colorful floor mats or artistic images along the wall can be interesting and Instagram-worthy. Consider your budget, objectives and audience when deciding on the environmental design of your experience.
In visual design, every detail matters. The placement of each individual element is critical to the overall event picture.
2- EMOTIONAL APPEAL
The “Insta museums” mentioned above aren’t just things you walk through. They are interactive playgrounds. The experience extends beyond the pretty visuals to evoke emotion.
When your brand experience allows your audience to feel something, they’re more engaged and more likely to want to share their experience. Emotional appeal adds meaning to the experience and helps someone feel more connected to your brand.
Emotion can be evoked in many ways. The multi-sensory design alone may be enough. Adding an interactive activity or something to further involve them may be another. Incorporating startling stories or statistics can be yet another.
Ask yourself, ‘How is someone going to feel at this experience?’ That should be a guiding question as you design the experience.
People want to share the beautiful moments they experience with friends and family. So if you can create a special moment – not just a picture – you can spark their inner desire to share.
3- INCORPORATE SUBTLE BRANDING
Good experience design incorporates your brand in subtle ways. It’s not about adding a step and repeat banner at the door or hanging logo banners on every wall. We’re not serving you logo soup.
Every brand has a distinct look and feel. Make sure the event photos will capture your unique personality. From the lighting to the visuals, everything works together to create a certain photographic mood.
Logo or product placement is obviously important, too. But think creatively about how you incorporate. For dinner events, try logo-etched silverware or custom drink stir sticks. For product displays, set the item in a real and authentic setting as opposed to something that resembles a store shelf. Create your logo out of unique materials or build it in such a way that is fresh and interesting.
Think about the key places where someone may take a photo, and add your brand subtly in the background.
4- ENCOURAGE SHARING
People like to know what their expectations are upfront. So don’t be afraid to encourage them to snap and share.
Here are a few ways you can encourage more social posting:
- Create a unique event hashtag and post that hashtag in multiple locations so it can’t be missed. If you have multiple exhibits, you may want to create multiple hashtags to easily measure the engagement levels of each.
- If you have a large footprint, provide maps. You could give paper maps or handle digitally in your brand’s app. On the map, point out photo opportunities or those key moments you want to make sure someone stops. This is a great place to put your hashtag.
- Ask for social sharing on the take-home item. Or offer a post-event challenge that encourages social sharing even after someone leaves your event.
- Create an exclusive filter that can only be used when someone is at your event location. This stirs FOMO and is exciting to use for your guests.
- Make it easy for attendees by providing selfie sticks, selfie frames or photo booths.
- For some brands, it may make make sense to incentivize the post. Offer a sweepstakes giveaway or other reward just for using your event hashtag. It could be as simple as a swag item or as exciting as being in the brand’s next video commercial.
Brand experiences designed for Instagram will earn a lot of organic shares, but it never hurts to ask softly for that post.
Research shows that user-generated content has a 4.5% higher chance of conversion than branded posts. Encouraging your audience to share photos from your experience may be well worth the investment.
5- RECRUIT INFLUENCERS
For made-for-Instagram events, it’s important to get a few heavy hitters in the room. This can be through organic or paid influence marketing programs. If you have influencers on your payroll, invite them to attend. If you don’t, get creative about how to draw influential social media users to participate.
If you are having a musician perform, one selection criterion could be how social he/she is. Will the musician you hire be likely to help promote your event or post about their performance there? Same with your speaker panel, brand partners or caterers.
You may be thinking about macro-influencers – celebrities with huge followings. But that’s not always who you need in the room. Micro-influencers who have a natural affinity for your brand or your industry may be a powerful resource for you.
Sometimes, all it takes is a simple invitation to get a few of the right people in the room. If they’re genuinely interested in what you’re doing, they’ll want to come and share your content. Just make sure the event creates value for them and their followers.
Even with paid influencers, you want the content to seem as natural as possible. Here’s where your visual design, emotional appeal and subtle branding will activate their posts in a positive light.
6- ENGAGE IN REALTIME
If you want a lot of Instagramming to take place at your event, you better have your social media community managers on site and ready to engage digitally. After all, social media is social – that means two-way dialogue.
Someone should be following the posts, liking content and adding comments as appropriate, to fuel further engagements. Re-post from your event attendees to make them feel like an even more important part of the experience.
Has a favorite brand of yours ever responded to one of your personal posts? And did you feel giddy even for one quick moment to get that personal attention?
Simply saying thanks for attending in an online channel could show a lot of customer appreciation.
7- MEDIA EXPOSURE
Generating earned media on social media is extremely valuable. But media still play a vital role in both exposure and signaling when a topic is hot. If a trusted media source is talking about your experience, it must be worth sharing! Publishers and journalists add value to your event, so be sure to invite the media to attend.
Media coverage aids your brand in many ways: increased awareness and foot traffic, expanded reach of your message and added credibility. If media cover the event, your brand will get a spotlight in their publications or broadcasts, as well as in their social channels.
And the amplification goes on and on and on.
For some brand experiences, it pays to have a preview event for press. Open early or the night prior to public viewings, and host an experience-driven press conference. This creates exclusive content to entice media with while generating some early buzz for your brand experience.
8- OWNED CONTENT
Your experience is a content factory for your brand, too. Sure your objective might be earned media in the moment. But using the experience to fill your own Instagram feed in the weeks ahead will aid your own social strategy and continue to earn you online engagement post-event. Offset some of the costs of creating visual content by gathering a calendar’s worth of content at your experience.
Make a shot list beforehand to give to the on-site photographer. Think about how you can use content from the experience not just for social media but for future TV, radio, print, out-of-home and digital placements.
Get content early, so you can design live posts and memes while the event is still taking place. Collecting b-roll will also help with your media outreach. Then use the content to fill in your social calendar. Plan and prepare your posts and schedule out according to your content plan.
Like with all things marketing, you’ll want to measure the success of your Instagrammable experience.
Did the brand experience…
- Generate hashtag use and exposure?
- Increase reach with social media impressions?
- Earn media pick-ups?
- Gain a lift in awareness?
- Grow your brand’s followers?
- Drive online or in-person visits?
- Generate new leads?
- Position your brand in a distinctive, positive way?
- Grab attention of influencers in your industry?
Among your other key performance indicators, its Instagram results are cues to determine your event’s triumph.
10- SCALE & REPEAT
The sensory wonderland that Essence and Toyota created took place during a one-day event. The event drew attendance and visibility for the brands. And the short span created an exclusivity to the experience. It generated earned media; it worked.
However, depending on your objectives and investment, it may make good business sense to scale the branded experience. Open a pop-up for a longer flight? Take it on a mobile tour to new markets? Re-launch it seasonally?
Experiential marketing is about the intimate, human-to-human connections your brand can build with consumers. So if you see the success in this, you can continue to do so even on a limited budget. Replicate the experience for new markets or new audiences. Find ways to re-imagine and improve on your brand experience but save money by re-using what you can. Create something new by using your existing props. Keep the elements you produce and re-purpose them at future events or as in-store displays.
It’s the experience that drives your engagements. So consider how you can scale, replicate, repeat and grow your Instagrammable event to achieve more brand relevance.
Not every brand experience is designed for Instagram. But if your marketing goal is earned media, then designing an Instagrammable experience may be the right direction for you!
Note: External tools mentioned are not endorsements and are provided as helpful links, only.