Your social media strategy covers what you put out there online. But should you be including activity in the real world, with a view to getting it shared online? After all, there are things you can do in the actual world that will encourage valuable coverage in the virtual world too.
By creating an environment or backdrop that offers a photo opportunity, or providing packaging and materials that create a shareable unboxing moment, you can spread the word about your brand without even logging on yourself!
Photo op marketing
If we take a trip back to the early 50s, when photography first started to become accessible to the masses, we start to see the very first installations that provide a photo opportunity for tourists.
We’re talking about those boards at the seaside where you put your face through a hole while someone takes your picture. According to photocutouts.co.uk, you could argue they were the first piece of photo-op marketing. Nowadays, these boards are seldom seen without a URL, #hashtag or Twitter handle printed at the bottom.
You may not be in the market for a saucy seaside cut-out, but the principle is simple and effective: create an irresistible photo opportunity and incorporate an element that allows you to promote your business in some way.
Now with wings
Fuelled by Taylor Swift appearing on Instagram in front of a piece by Kelsey Montague, the trend for butterfly or angel wings started in the world of graffiti art before making the inevitable transition into the world of venues and retailers.
In the Taylor Swift post, you can see that @KelseyMontagueArt has signed the piece at the bottom left. In many examples, the space between the upper portion of the wings is often used to place logos, URLs, hashtags etc.
It’s now a common trope in Instagrammable installations at locations all over the world. Another great example is from Artist Paul Curtis, whose Liver Bird wings on Jamaica Street in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle is what the Liverpool Echo calls “one of the most “Instagrammable” spots in the city.”
If you’re not quite bold enough to take a spray can to your walls, a printed Vinyl Banner or Extra Wide Roller Banner can provide a non-permanent and portable solution.
But is it art?
The line between art installation and Instagram photo op has certainly blurred. This picture from Katie Perry’s Instagram of the singer inside a piece called “Infinity Mirrors” by the artist Yayoi Kusama surely represents the point where the two worlds collide.
Pop-up experiences and content playgrounds!
For Instagramers with less celebrity clout than Ms Perry, ‘Pop-up Experiences’ are allowing would-be influencers the chance to liven up their feeds by photographing and filming themselves in striking environments.
London’s O2 Arena currently hosts both Selfie Factory and Tikky Town. Selfie Factory describes itself as an “Instagram inspired funhouse” while Tikky Town is geared more towards the bitesize video platform Tik Tok, and billed as a “content playground for big kids.” Both venues are full of colourful sets, props and spaces that help users create the kind of impressive content you’d expect to see from a professional studio.
While most business models aren’t specifically geared towards creating photo ops for visitors, there’s no reason why physical businesses can’t take some inspiration here. If you’re able to add some flourishes to your event or place of business you could reap the dual rewards of attracting more visitors and spreading the word online.
Get inspired to create your own photo ops
If customers already take selfies around your location, look out for where it happens and see what you can do to enhance that space. Firstly, you might want to find ways to make their selfies more shareable. Maybe think about introducing striking spaces and brilliant backdrops to lure budding influencers.
Get it right, like Blanche Bakery in Cardiff, and they’ll come flocking. This vegan outlet’s neon sign reading “but first coffee” has become more of a staple than their iced doughnuts, making it a top destination for Instagrammers.
Secondly, you might want to put your own stamp on any in situ pics by placing your logo, website, handle or hashtag in shot to publicise your brand among their followers, just like Vital Proteins manage to do consistently.
Mirror selfie? Mirror sticker!
Many people prefer a mirror selfie to the handheld option, as it allows for a longer, and more flattering, focal length. If you want to accommodate self-conscious social media personalities, a large mirror or mirrored wall will cater for them perfectly.
When it comes to sneaking a bit of your own branding into shot, Stickers are a great way to photobomb the picture.
Campaigns and Events
An installation like this one for the Be Berlin campaign is simple and direct: take a picture, tweet it and tag #BeBerlin. The campaign netted over 8,200 photos.
Advertisers often use backdrops featuring logos at sports and media events to raise awareness and associate their brand with an exciting or glamorous event. You can employ this principle too at an event where you know the cameras will be out.
If you’re attending a trade show, you can really build up a buzz around your stand by creating photo opportunities using display materials.
You can use your imagination to build photo opportunities into whatever display materials you choose to make up your stand. With the addition of some inventive design ideas, Bold backdrops, striking Banners, and eye-catching Flags, can all contribute to creating that Instagrammable moment.
Props can also provide an element of fun that prompts visitors to get their phones out and take some snaps for their socials. On our last visit to the Print Show, we produced Deck Chairs that provided a bit of amusement as well a much-needed sit down for our visitors. They also prompted this shareable moment where the gentleman on the left realises he’s knocked his companion’s coffee out of his hand with a careless toss of a beach ball:
Unboxing has been ‘a thing’ for a long time now. Pioneering websites unbox.it and unboxing.com were both around as early as 2006, though most unboxing content is now shared on social media platforms like Instagram, Tik Tok and YouTube. It also provides a consumer service by showing audiences exactly what they get if they make that purchase.
Today, it’s an entrenched trend that businesses can easily harness by enhancing their unboxing experience. Make sure your packaging provides multiple points of interest as your customer excitedly reveals the product they’ve brought from you. Opening your product should be an ‘experience.’ Consider that experience to be part and parcel of the product you’re selling.
The unboxing experience is not just for the latest Apple product either. Unboxing videos are out there for products that many would consider a bit ‘unsexy’, from air conditioning units to toasters!
In addition to the coveted product itself, avid unboxers will delight in discovering accompanying printed materials that might include Stickers, Swing Tags, Certificates, Flyers and Leaflets featuring details or instructions. Stickers can also be used to seal packages, as well as providing a free gift inside the package. Custom Ribbon and personalised Wrapping Paper helps to add a sense of luxury to high-end products, as well as winning favour with unboxers.
This kind of material is particularly valued among tech, gaming, fashion, sport, skater or music audiences. Before your product is even lifted from the package, you can expect any accompanying ‘case candy’ to be heavily scrutinised!
It’s not just printed materials that work well to sweeten the unboxing experience. Literal candy – Sweets – are a popular item to include nowadays. The gesture will carry greater weight if you choose to include branded packets of Sweets.
And let’s talk about the phenomenon that is the Sports Direct mug. There’s one in my house that arrived with a consignment of sportswear. There may well be one in your home or place of work too.
The legend of the Sports Direct mug has taken on a life of its own, with memes and spoof stories about floods being shared all over social media. When a piece of marketing collateral catches the public’s imagination in this way, it’s an absolute marketer’s dream!
So when you’re thinking about how your brand appears online, it can be useful to think beyond your own website and social media accounts. By creating something imaginative and engaging in the physical world, you might just hit upon a shareable moment that reaches way beyond your conventional marketing strategies!