What are your conference goals? As an event planner, the sheer scale of all there is to accomplish at a conference can feel, and sometimes is, overwhelming. Among the requirements like making sure caterers have prepared enough food, attendees feel engaged, and ensuring the venue staff is keeping bathrooms clean, is the looming, ever-present objective to promote your conference. Can it be bigger next year? Better?
If the answer to that question is yes, then increasing your conference exposure to the world of people outside your event doors is a big task. How can you leverage experiences and content so that your conference attendees start promoting ‘Conference 2019’ during ‘Conference 2018’? How can conference attendees work for you in promoting the event?
Their experience at your event and any content they generate will, after all, have a much stronger impact on their networks than any cold-emails will from you, so unlocking this potential, if possible, is really, really important.
In this article, we’re recommending 3 different types of photo experiences that will not only entertain your event attendees but also help boost your conference exposure as well. (You can also use social media to promote your conference)
1. Insta-Worthy Selfie Walls
As renowned photographer Chase Jarvis is famous for saying: “The best camera, is the one that you have with you!” This couldn’t be truer today when almost all of us are walking around with incredible cameras in our pockets. Unleashing the power of mobile phone cameras at your conference is of paramount importance. In fact, all of these photo experiences rely on mobile technology in one way or another!
The first experience we’ll look at is the selfie wall. While it’s a pretty loose term, it most commonly refers to a wall, backdrop, or canvas of some sort that people will take selfies in front of.
So, what can be done to a wall or canvas that will make attendees want to take photos? Well, it seems that if it’s done right, the sky’s the limit! Check out these creative, fun ideas spread all over Los Angeles:
While you probably don’t have the entire side of a building to use, making your own version of a selfie wall doesn’t have to be hard. Here’s an example of what an awesome selfie :
Backdrops are also an easy, more affordable option. Consider printing a custom backdrop, creating a ‘set’ for people to pose in, or making a living, floral backdrop and adding your conference or brand logo to it in neon. As the photos below show, these basic ideas make for a fun selfie opportunity that guests will love and it spreads the word about your conference at the same time.
2. Branded Selfie Stations
Next up: selfie stations. If space and crowd management are concerns, or if your budget is limited, then a big selfie wall might not be the best option. Photo booths, which now seem to pop up at almost every event, are an easy, engaging alternative. Hiring a photo booth vendor to take care of a branded photo op and deliver prints onsite has become a staple at conferences around the globe. The downside of traditional photo booths is their cost and complexity.
Due, in part, to the more complex and cumbersome nature of photo booths, their sleeker, simpler cousin which we call selfie stations are now more popular than ever. With all the recognizable hallmarks of a photo booth, they’re often iPad-based machines that are designed to be simple, unmanned, branded photo stations that can be deployed by your own conference staff and are so simple to use that event attendees have no problem figuring it out on their own.
The power of selfie stations is not just in their simplicity and external ‘brandability’. It’s in the creative, branded content they can produce. When paired with custom messaging, selfie stations are an affordable, powerful marketing tool to promote your conference.
So where a selfie wall prompts people to post to social because of the cool content, a selfie station prompts people to post because of the content AND whatever incentives you give a guest to post (think contest, giveaway, or a feature on a social media wall).
3. Oversized Logos & Props
Rounding out these photo experiences is an idea that typically requires more space, more budget, and more lead time. That being said, while creating the experience is hard work, the output is often incredible. Sometimes even semi-viral like the famous ATX sign that WholeFoods created right outside their flagship store in Austin.
The mobile phone is the best tool to boost your conference exposure in this situation. Give your attendees an amazing reason to unashamedly advertise for you. Create a visual piece that ties your conference and brand together through a life-sized prop or logo. This will leave them with a lasting impression in their minds and their online networks.
As an example, the Dreamforce conference creates massive arches every year that include their conference name. Thousands of those selfies, and sometimes JUST photos of the arch itself, find their way online, further cementing the idea of Dreamforce as the place to be.
While there are plenty of companies that sell life-sized props and letters, most successful ideas will require a good amount of customization. This means working with an agency, production company, or photo experience company will be a must to promote your conference. Using partners like this to think through the photo experiences or photo ops at your conference will serve you in a couple of ways. First, these types of companies get requests for ideas like this all time. They’ll be clued into great ideas that others have suggested or used in the past. Second, they’ll often take care of the ideas and collateral you need to promote the photo experience.
Be Clear About Your Expectations
Don’t forget the most important things to remember when planning a photo experience at a conference or large corporate event. Be clear about what you expect from attendees. Creating photo opportunities is great, but educating your guests is what’s really important. What hashtags they should / could use, cluing them into any incentives that exist, promoting their shared content publicly, etc. All of these things will drive traffic and do the true work of boosting exposure of the conference you’re planning.
This article is brought to you by Sam Eitzen from The SnapBar. He’s a co-founder of The SnapBar, a photo experience company that provides a variety of engaging photo products at conferences, expos, festivals, and thousands of other events around the US.