Up Your Event’s Instagram Game

As made-for-Instagram pop-ups grow in popularity nationwide, it may be time for your association to make its next conference more photo- and selfie-friendly. A few ways to get it done.

Have you heard of the Egg House, Dream Machine, or the Museum of Pizza?

Neither had I, until a family friend told me she went to Brooklyn-based Dream Machine over the summer.

Basically, they’re “made-for-Instagram” pop-up exhibits that allow visitors (who usually pay anywhere from $20 to $40) to get social-media-friendly photo ops with various installations and giant props. Dream Machine, for instance, featured 10 dream-inspired rooms that included a ball pit, a hall of sparkly streamers, and a secret laundromat.

While these “selfie factories,” as Wired dubbed them, may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there’s no denying they’re bringing in visitors—and money. According Wired, the 300,000 tickets available to visit New York City’s Museum of Ice Cream (which cost $18 each) sold out within five days of opening. And CNBC reports that a sold-out run at the Museum of Pizza—which opens in mid-October—would equal more than $2.2 million in ticket sales alone.

The popularity of these pop-ups offers some takeaways for association meeting planners as well. First is to consider how to incorporate more Instagrammable elements into your events, particularly if your attendees are regular users of the social tool.

Taking a page from these pop-ups, consider how you can create a space that has photo-friendly walls and décor that will make your attendees want to snap a pic. A photo booth—complete with props and perfect lighting—can be another option. Or even consider creating a list of the most Instagram-friendly locations in your venue and sharing it with attendees.

You can also incentivize your attendees to post photos on Instagram or Twitter, perhaps using a photo scavenger hunt or contest. For instance, at its annual conference earlier this week, the International City/County Management Association held a photo contest that asked attendees to share photos that best illustrated networking at the event, and the winner received free registration to next year’s conference. Then there’s the Association for Manufacturing Excellence, which is hosting a selfie contest at its October conference.

And let’s not forget two of the most-Instagrammed items: food and beverage. BizBash says a catering trend that’s here to stay is “Instagram-worthy visual elements.” So, as you’re working with venue staff to create menus, consider meals and drinks that that attendees will want to share in their social spaces. Ideas include everything from pretzel and donut walls to milkshakes and drinks served in unique glasses and garnished with flowers or candy.

Even destinations are getting in on promoting their most Instagrammable places. Visit Milwaukee has a webpage listing can’t-miss shots in the city. On the list: Hoan Bridge and the Milwaukee Art Museum. And then there’s the Beverly Hills CVB’s BOLD campaign, which took place in August. A big part of it was creating photo ops designed to be shared on social media.

What is your association doing to accommodate more made-for-Instagram photo ops and activities at events? Please share in the comments.

(master1305/Getty Images)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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