Do It for the Gram: The rise of the instagrammable experience.

Date

Aug 16, 2019

Our love of selfies has reached such a peak that Westfield is now home to "The UK's First Instagram Inspired Funhouse For Selfies".

The “Selfie Factory” pop up, which has been touring shopping centres up and down the country, features over 25 areas that visitors pay to enter before filling up their camera with Instagram content that will keep them going for weeks to come. It seems surreal, but these pop-ups are feeding our social media obsession and turning into a million pound industry. But how far does the event industry go to satisfy the thirst for these adult playgrounds?

Since 2010, Instagram has garnered more than 500 million users, 4.2 billion daily likes, and more than 95 million photos and videos posted per day – and there’s no doubt alongside this that the rise of social media has changed the face of advertising and how marketers spend their dollar. The influence it has on the average consumer, in particular the millennial, is phenomenal, changing behaviours and purchasing habits. For example, studies have revealed that two-fifths (40.1 per cent) of millennials choose a travel spot based on its Instagrammability – making this a huge factor in the decision-making process.

This trend has echoed through many sectors, as the need to capture that “instagrammable moment” becomes ever important, with Dezeen recently reporting that it’s even now a prerequisite in architectural briefs. Its influence on immersive art and the museum industry is also on the up as public buildings now look to social media to raise visitor numbers. We need look no further than the likes of the Color Factory and The Museum of Ice Cream for the influence they hold over experience. These digital phenomena create opportunities for social capture at every turn and, at the time of writing, The Museum of Ice Cream had been tagged over 191k times on Instagram. This “new style of art installation” popping up in our cities is changing the face of the industry as we know it and fuelling the desire for engaging millennial content. Essentially, in an experienced-based economy, it could be argued that grabbing that perfect photo for your socials has become more valuable than buying an actual item.

Image: Museum of Ice Cream

Image: Museum of Ice Cream

Image: Color Factory

Image: Color Factory

It’s clear that the rise of the Instagrammable experience can’t be ignored; brands and agencies now need to provide a plethora of opportunities to engage, snap and share content across social channels at every stage of the event. An experience without the smartphone seems to be part of a bygone era, with research indicating that 98% of consumers create digital or social content at branded experiences, and 100% of those people share that content. And brands are catching on to this, creating experiences that are built just for that. For example, seven of the installation at the last 29Rooms were made by corporate partners.

But where does this leave the events and creative experience industry? It’s evident that creative events agencies can’t ignore the call of social media, and the influence it has. The impact it can have on the amplification of events and activations alone means it should always be considered in order to generate maximum buzz and longevity way beyond the event itself. However, while storytelling through Instagram is a powerful tool, is there a danger of a disconnect between what brands think is a cool experience, and what audiences actually want? We need to create meaningful and memorable experiences through creativity – sometimes these lend themselves towards Instagram moments but they needn’t always be created for that purpose. If attendees want to snap a pic of something they feel is worthy of the gram, I'd prefer to think it's a natural coincidence/added bonus, rather than a pre-planned necessity.