Experiential Trends: Are Selfie Stations So Over?

Five years ago, branded selfie stations were a playfully refreshing concept within the experiential marketing landscape. Today, people are saying that it’s played out. At least, that’s what I keep hearing.

Is the selfie station, aka photo activation, dead? I think there are two common assumptions that drive this belief:

Myth #1: “Everyone is doing it”


While not necessarily a trend, there are a few brands skipping the selfie phenomenon. Like Clif Bar, who activated at the Pitchfork Music Festival without a branded selfie component.

However, last week I went to Austin to check out some of the brand experiences happening at SXSW. And yes, nearly every activation I encountered included some sort of branded photo activation area. In fact, there was a different selfie station quite literally around every corner.

Even my own company integrates some sort of photo activation within the vast majority of our experiential marketing programs.

Why do marketers love photo activations? First, people like taking pictures of themselves to share on their favorite social media platforms. I mean, our society is borderline obsessed with selfies. When leveraged right, branded content is a great way to increase engagement, amplify across digital platforms and extend the experience beyond the physical footprint.

We KNOW branded selfies work. Check out these two EventTrack survey reports by Event Marketing Institute: EventTrack 2016 + EventTrack. Or just peep these two key facts:

  • 98% of consumers will create digital or social content at events and experiences (and 100% of them will share it). (EventTrack)
  • 72% of consumers say friends’ posts about branded experiences makes them more likely to purchase the brand. (EventTrack)

But dig deeper into each of these reports and you’ll find that the reason consumers share all comes down to the content. Which leads me to #2.

Myth #2: “Photo marketing is no longer creative or unique.”


Photo booths have been around since the late 1880’s (Wiki). The concept isn’t new. However, I would argue that perhaps it’s not the tactic that has become dull, but the creativity behind how it is deployed.

What compels consumers to take a photo or video, or share their experiences on social media, all comes down to content. They want to share something fun and unique. Like an image or video that creates a bit of FOMO among their friends and followers.

In order for that to happen, we have to give them great content. The secret is to make the photo activation relevant to the event, visually appealing and easy to participate in. So trade in those step and repeats for a photo centric experience they’ll want to show off.

A few tips:

+ Replace bland vinyl backdrops with visually stunning physical elements and decor

+ Consider incorporating the latest tech to create videos, animated gifs or cinemagraphs

+ Create photo exclusive opportunities (i.e., the view from backstage)

+ Capture their participation during the branded experience (i.e., roller coaster photos)

+ Incorporate large monitors to easily depict what their amazing photo will look like


* Top photo by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash

Paul Soseman