Richard Kearsey of Emerald Colour investigates the impact social media has had on stand designs across the exhibitions industry.
Social media has made a huge impact on our professional and personal lives.
It’s gotten to the point where even the designs for most exhibitions are being impacted by it. The main reason for this is that the target audience for most exhibitions uses social media.
It’s also a great tool for garnering real-time feedback from your clients. However, we’re not looking at social media’s impact on the internal side of businesses. We’re going to take a closer look at how it’s beginning to affect the designs of stands that consumers can physically interact with.
The era of hashtags and selfies – do it for the gram!
Over the years, especially with the introduction of Twitter, hashtags have started to become extremely popular. Additionally, Instagram and Snapchat have made visual aesthetics very important. There are loads of people who will stop and engage with anything pretty that they feel is going to look beautiful in pictures.
It’s why Starbucks makes such picturesque milkshakes. In truth, they’re overloaded with sugar and too sweet to drink, but most aren’t afraid to spend money on such concoctions. It’s led to the phrase “Do it for the Gram” being developed, meaning that people engage with things which are aesthetically pleasing.
With this factor in mind, most exhibition stand designs are designed to effectively allow users to interact with them. For most businesses that are attending exhibitions, this is the main goal - they want to interact and engage with their audience physically. That’s why exhibition stand designs are evolving to incorporate this aspect.
Social media usage in designs has led to the introduction of useful, fun, and social stands that engage people on a larger level. Curious about how exhibition stand designs make the most of social media? The following are the ones that you can see in the market today:
1. Live engagement designs
These allow users to interact with the design and use social media in a very pure form. The aim here is to just create something which allows users to use their social media platforms to engage with the stand. The beauty of these designs is that they can be complex or they can be very simple.
This makes them suited for almost any budget. Most businesses choose to have a social media screen where people can take pictures with hashtags or even run competitions. You can see examples of this with Mattel’s exhibition stand design in Olympia, London.
The stand replicated the packaging of their Barbie’s and the photo booth allowed users to step inside, give their best Barbie pose and share the picture on social media. It created organic engagement which allowed users to drum up interest in Barbie again. Not that she’s going out of fashion anytime soon.
2. Real-time interaction designs
These are more complex than live engagement designs but they also work in a completely different way. In this case, real-time interaction designs focus on working with people who’re taking the time to interact with them. While live engagement designs can be a bit more automated, these designs require the human element.
A good example of this can be seen in Old Navy’s #Selfiebration campaign. The brand used an intuitive setup where anyone who was posting a selfie with the #Selfiebration could indirectly affect the design on the stand. It not only drew interest from target markets but also made it stand out from the crowd.
Additionally, it persuaded people to look not only use the hashtag but also try to interact with the brand more. The exhibition design is also extremely intuitive and one of the most unique seen. Remember though that how complex or how simple the stand design can be is really dependent on the brand and their goals.
3. Internet of Things – IoT designs
The growth of social media is largely tied with mobile devices like smartphones and tablets and the Internet of Things (IoT). Additionally, the number of things you can connect with has definitely grown. People can now rely on their smartphones to control the lighting in their home, their fridge, and even the toaster.
This aspect can also be embraced for exhibition stand designs. Again, it has great value for interaction and it has a certain novelty to it as well. You can use IoT to allow your audience to control or change different things about the stand, to a certain degree. It not only boosts engagement but also gave users a pretty end result that they felt emotionally invested in.
The best part is that most brands use this aspect of IoT to create things that are playful and interconnected with their consumers. Candy Mechanics brought this aspect to life by using IoT and tying it with their Edible Selfie Station. Users could connect their phones and pick selfies which were then converted into candy recreations of their images.
Evolving exhibition stand designers
In areas where exhibitions, conventions and other shows are more common, designers are embracing creativity and seeing social media as a way to understand the market requirements. Most exhibition stand builders in London are able to create engaging stand designs based on the budget of the business and their goals in mind.
However, there is sufficient proof available that audiences interact more with stands that are interactive. Remember though that such stands need to not only be designed but executed with care, especially if you’re aiming to make social media a part of your stand.
Social media also needs to be considered right from the conceptual stage. This allows the stand to be designed in a way that’s truly in accordance with social media and not the other way round. By understanding what the goal is right from the start, you get more clarity and are also able to get your stand designed properly.
At the end of the day, the design needs to be clean, easy to interact with, and a part of your social media strategy!
Richard Kearsey is a digital designer at Emerald Colour – a company that offers website design services in London.