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Raise Your Instagram Strategy Game With Experiential Sets

Adding experiential experiences to your content marketing strategy can help grow and engage your audience online and offline.

Instagram, the popular photo and video site, will celebrate its 10th birthday in 2020. According to Sprout Social, just about a billion people use Instagram regularly, with about sixty percent of these users logging in at least once a day. While Instagram isn’t the largest social site, it is remarkable for the sort of famously Instagrammable experiences that its devoted audience has come to expect from content providers. As a marketer or content marketing agency, learn one way that you can tailor your Instagram strategy to include such an experience.

Developing an Instagram strategy around experiential set design

Many kinds of businesses have used Instagram as part of their effective content marketing strategy. Lots of other businesses even owe their starts to this unique social platform. As an important example, Instagram has even birthed an entire cottage industry of off-line sets that creative people develop just to generate the perfect backdrop for Instagrammable experiences.

Lately, these typically colorful and well-designed places have been called experiential sets. Fast Company referred to them as a sort of Disneyland for the selfie set, designed to appeal to short attention spans and a be-seen culture. Besides typically charging an admission fee, they also generally have sponsored rooms or galleries.

What is experiential set design?

To understand experiential set designs, it helps to consider some examples. Fast Company highlighted the Museum of Ice Cream’s debut in 2016. It launched in New York City, and then later attracted such celebrities as Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, and Katy Perry as it spread to Los Angeles and Miami. Copycats with similar ordinary themes and extraordinary sensory experiences popped up soon afterwards. Some examples include the Museum of Pizza and the Egg House. Of course, the most obviously named one is called the Museum of Selfies.

No matter the theme, they’re always designed with a photogenic quality in mind; however, they usually offer a live experience that appeals to multiple senses, such as feeling, smelling, and even tasting. Naturally, the admission to the Museum of Ice Cream includes a free scoop, provided by rotating vendors, who hope to gain more exposure both offline and online.

This new trend in experiential set design for events has moved to established museums or galleries and traveled as popup exhibitions. Critics have sometimes belittled these sets as dumbing down culture for the digital age and exploiting patrons by letting them pay high admission fees for superficial art and blatant advertising.

Great examples of experiential settings

At the same time, some efforts have been taken more seriously. As an example, The Color Factory has enjoyed serious design credibility with its focus upon color, creativity, and the way people experience spaces. They’ve even collaborated with such prestigious designers as the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt Design Museum. While the developers keep it a kid-friendly place, The Color Factory also appeals to couples on dates, tourists, and of course, Instagram and other social media influencers.

Of course, major brands have started sponsoring their own experiential settings. One good example includes the Escape the Room games that HBO sponsored at SXSW. They provided sets inspired by popular HBO shows, including Game of Thrones, Veep, and Silicone Valley. These games immersed players in the shows’ stories in an incredibly engaging way.

Using experiential set design for B2B on Instagram

It’s sort of intuitive to see how a B2C content marketing agency can make use of these experiential sets to help improve brand recognition and grow their audiences. For example, Refinery 29’s contribution to this new industry, 29 Rooms, has had branded rooms from such companies as Smirnoff, Kraft, and Revlon. Non-sponsoring celebrities and social influencers might simply use the interesting backdrops of the venues as imaginative settings for their photos and videos. Meanwhile, the settings themselves may benefit from plenty of online exposure, admission fees, and sponsors.

At the same time, the concept of experiential sets can also lend itself very well for marketers who want to gain exposure for B2B on Instagram and other social sites. It’s important to note that a Bizzabo survey of hundreds of experienced marketers found that 87 percent of C-suite executives think live events will begin to factor much more in their marketing strategy.

Turning life events into Instagrammable experiences

For some good examples of way the executives might consider spending some of their marketing budgets on experiential sets for live events: 

  • Look at the Healthymagination marketing campaign by GE. They designed realistic medical settings that include demos of the ways that their tech helps improve them.
  • For something a bit more colorful and in line with other experiential settings, consider the way that HubSpot has designed their inbound marketing conference, complete with a giant #INBOUND hashtag sculpture to remind attendees how to find their posts and tag their own.
  • If you want to add a high-tech approach, you might even follow Intel’s lead in using immersive augmented and virtual reality tech to create a memorable and Instagrammable experience. One highlight included a hologram of one of their general managers, Gregory Bryant, speaking to the crowd.

Live events can lend themselves perfectly to serving as venues for Instagrammable experiences. Of course, it’s possible to turn the setting into its own event. Businesses can create their own branded experiences, either to keep in their headquarters buildings for visitors or as a popup that they can move around to trade shows and conventions. They can use their sets to highlight their company’s history, products, and community service. All the while, they can turn this immersive experience into something very sharable, so they benefit from both offline and online attention.

Should experiential sets become part of your content marketing strategy?

If you can find an experiential set relevant to your business, you may find that a great venue to produce sharable content. If you’re looking for a novel, competitive edge for your content marketing agency, you might even come up with your own ideas for a photogenic, mini-Disneyland for the selfie crowd. You can improve exposure both online and offline, plus add another revenue stream to your business.

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