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Self-staging as a marketing instrument: how "Instagrammable" is your event?

Published on 9/5/2019 by Harry Hofstetter

Smartphones have brought about a fundamental change in visitor behaviour at events. Visitors not only want to enjoy the live experience, they also want to share it directly with their friends. They then post and live-stream via social media channels like Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Facebook. The reach and importance of this form of communication is still underestimated. This is why many organisers, brands and sponsors are failing to create specific self-staging opportunities for their visitors, which would allow them to consciously showcase their presence at an event.

Considerably more than 50 percent of event visitors, and particularly younger target groups, share their experiences via digital channels. They do, however, need to be given the means to do this. While, in the past, it was predominantly pictures and comments that were distributed, a massive increase is now coming about in the proportion of video messages and live streaming that is shared. Visitors' contributions are authentic, immediate and emotional. While contributions from organisers or brands are increasingly being hidden or ignored, posts from our direct surroundings, from the community, are attracting a great deal of attention as well as maximum relevance and credibility. Studies have shown that this word of mouth marketing is the most effective channel in the media world. Many organisers and brands have not yet recognised the opportunity that stems from the impact and also the reach of these communication channels. 

How can self-staging opportunities be created, however? Suitable projection surfaces are already available for certain types of event. Stages are basically always in the spotlight, and it can be assumed that visitors will capture them in videos or photos. In this case, what is needed is to decorate the stage area so as to generate the desired recognition effect. Numerous festivals decorate their stage roofs with their names or the event's hashtag. But there are still many platforms that appear without names on the social walls and cannot be identified by viewers – a missed opportunity! The city of Lucerne took action against such a situation two years ago, inscribing "Welcome to Lucerne" on the arch in front of its main railway station. The arch now doubtless features on a large number of digital pin boards all over the world. Or would you have been able to identify the arch in Lucerne without the inscription?

Existing stages and structures are the simplest self-staging areas. At the same time, they only possess a low experience factor. It is when visitors can interact with the event or with a brand ambassador that things get really exciting. A photo with the star of the event being photographed in his dream car or with an Olympic medal round his neck is not only great fun but also generates numerous likes, shares and comments from the community. To give an example: UEFA enables its main partners to go on tour with the Champions League Cup. Every year, thousands of fans then have themselves photographed with the cup on the Trophy Tour. And if there are no stars or trophies available, visitors are quite happy to pose with a dummy or to stand in front of the same logo wall as their idols did. In the USA, car manufacturer KIA invites visitors to music festivals to a "car wash" for people, whether they can win prizes and stage a party. In addition to thousands of delighted visitors, several million impressions have resulted on social media.

India Art Fair 2017 (MCH Group)

If you wish to create opportunities for self-staging, countless possibilities exist. For organisers and brands, it is a matter of creating true added value for their visitors and thus supporting them in staging themselves.

How "Instagrammable" is your event or exhibition stand? Do you already invite your visitors to take photographs and share them, or do you leave it up to your guests to find exciting motifs? Targeted self-staging will allow your event to reach totally new target groups within a very short time and without a great deal of expense. If the right hashtag is sent with the photo as well, the results can be tracked in an exemplary manner after the event.

This text appeared on the blog of our Reflection Marketing colleagues.

Harry Hofstetter

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