How Social Media is Impacting Exhibition Stand Designs
Social Media has infiltrated every area of modern life and exhibitions are no different. Every one attending or presenting uses social media in some way. One of the benefits of social media for business is its speed: you can test concepts and ideas quickly to see if they work. This ability to quickly speak to your audience gives you an opportunity when designing your stand to refine your concept for maximum impact. You can test how your audience responds to certain types of messaging and ideas, and then feed this data back to your exhibition stand designers so they can build the refinements into the design.
When it comes to the design of the stand itself, you can integrate social media into the design in numerous ways. Social media's functionality is easily adapted to work with your stand's technology or experiences. This means you can add social elements to individual areas of the stand depending on the experience you are trying to deliver.These elements can help you with everything from engagement to lead generation.
Common social media uses on exhibition stands
The use of social media on exhibition stands in recent years has become increasingly innovative and entertaining. As the tools and audiences grow so does the inventiveness of those using it. There are no rules on where you can use social media, that is down to your imagination and creativity. However, there are some natural fits for social media within the modern exhibition stand. Below are the most common uses we come across:
Live engagement is using social media in its purest form. You merely create someway in which people using their social media can engage with your stand. This can be as simple as a "live social media screen" where photos using your event hashtag will appear on a screen in your stand. Another idea is to encourage selfies through a backdrop wall. Some companies have used social media to run competitions and then build in screens on the stand that let them announce winners and display their winning entries.
Mattel devised a wonderfully clever way to get social media engagement at Brand Licensing Europe. Their Barbie photo booth let people become a packaged Barbie and share the image online. Creating a fun buzz around their flagship product.
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Take social engagement to the next level with real time interactions. This involves interacting with those who take the time to engage with you. Unlike the above, which tends to be automated, the interactions will require human elements. How this impacts the design can vary depending on your approach. If you are simply keeping interaction limited to social media itself, it just means having someone dedicated to doing so. However, some brands have decided to be a little more creative. This has led to some stands where the interaction has become part of the experience. Letting those influence what is happening as they watch or engage with the stand. It is simply digital audience participation. The difference is this is participation that you can then use to promote your brand online as it's shared on social media.
One company embracing the possibilities of social media interactions is Old Navy. Their #Selfiebration campaign toured various cities letting people interact with Old Navy in a truly fun and engaging way.
Live stream offers you a vast opportunity to engage with people who aren't even at the event. If you have a renowned keynote speaker or exciting product launch you can share this with the world, not just the room. The design consideration here is how to present this. For brands on a budget, you can just film it on your phone or you can go for a higher quality video format. The IBC Exhibition in Amsterdam is one of the leaders in live streaming in the industry. They have evolved their live streaming of the event into a highly engaged community that continue to engage long after the event. Whatever you decide, you have to consider how it looks and sounds online before the event. Do you need more lighting? Do you need a pa system? Would screens help? Try thinking about what would affect your experience if you were to watch it online.
Internet of Things
Social media's growth is tied to smartphones and as these have grown, so has the amount of technology that they can connect to. Now you can control everything from your smartphone, from the lighting to the toaster in your home. Exhibitions are no different. This connectivity gives you the opportunity to let your audience control elements of the stand itself. Meaning you can deliver highly personalized experiences across your stand. You can also use this technology to be more playful, letting people connect to and play games on your stand and then share the experience online, all from their own phone. An example of this is Candy Mechanics’ Edible Selfies. Candy Mechanics can use your selfies to create candy recreations of the images for you to feast on. It is a simple and fun way to bring your social media interactions to life.
Things to remember
Whatever you want to do with social media, the key thing to remember is planning. If you want social media to play a part in your exhibition stand, it has to be built into the design from the beginning. Social media needs to be a consideration at the concept stage. By knowing in advance what is required, your stand designers can make a feature of it in their design, which will only help drive engagement. This engagement will then give you the opportunity to build relations and generate leads.
Mark Gill has been with DMN Design Build since 1997 when he started his career with the firm as a joiner. He now heads up the production team, managing the process from prototype to handover, specializing in exhibition stands design and exhibition services.