How to Spice up Your Event with a Social Media Photo Booth and Live Photo Album

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Now imagine a wall of pictures telling the story of your event’s success. Your attendees are probably already taking selfies and posting them to their social media channels. If you did your work well they may even be diligently using your event hashtag.

But what if you could really harness photographs by showing your guests’ happy faces in a social photo album while making your event more fun for everyone?

Photo booths are a great way to streamline some of the social media sharing from your event. It won’t replace individual social media activities, and you’ll still have to put in the effort to get your attendees to post with your hashtag and share your content. But setting up a photo booth at your event has a myriad of advantages.

Event photo booths are ice breakers

Networking at events can often feel a little stiff and awkward, and photo booths are an excellent ice breaker. They’re real people magnets! Attendees will be drawn to the photo booth and mingle around it. As they wait for their turn or get pulled into shots with others they’ll start talking to new people. After all, sharing a laugh is the best way to meet people.

Taking photo booth pics is a lot of fun

The reason photo booths are great icebreakers is because they’re fun to use. Set up an easy-to-use platform, get some fun props, write humorous instructions for use, and people will have fun with the photo booth. Laughter is a fantastic lure in social settings. The more people are seen enjoying it, the more attendees will flock towards your photo booth.

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A photo booth will also keep your attendees engaged throughout the event and serve as a nice diversion. Many events, conferences especially, can become quite draining because people have to process a lot of information in a short time. A photo booth gives them something to do as they unwind for a bit.

Photo booths are a marketing bag of tricks

You can use photo booths for your marketing and branding. Wrap a kiosk in your own branding. Sell ad space to sponsors. Slap your logo on images to get your brand seen wherever the pics from the booth are shared. Attendees who share photos will turn into your brand ambassadors!

Create an online live album of your event

When you connect your photo booth to your social media wall, you can create a live-updating album of your event. Anyone can view the wall online to see how amazing your event is. You can display the album live at the event, and attendees can enjoy the fun of finding their own pictures on the social wall.

How to set up your own social media photo wall

Setting up a photo booth and live wall for your event is pretty easy, and there are many options to choose from. Pick your photo booth depending on what you need and what your budget is.

The basic principle for a live album is the following:

  • Set up a photo booth at your event
  • Find a way to automatically post the photos to social media (Twitter account, Facebook album,…)
  • Set up Walls.io and add your social media source to display the photos on a social wall

Choosing the right photo booth

A quick round with Google Search shows that are plenty of options out there for photo booths. They differ vastly in size and options, and you can buy, rent or DIY them.

If you organise a lot of events and are using photo booths regularly, buying one might be something for you to look into. For one-offs, renting is a great option. And if you just don’t have the budget, you can create pretty nifty things with some bought software and a tablet as well.

Open or closed photo booth?

There are many types of photo booths, from traditional closed booths (like those at the train station) to completely open-plan solutions. Some options need a photographer, others are user-operated.

The biggest question is whether you want an open or closed solution. Both have their advantages, but for big events, open photo booths make a lot of sense. Open kiosk-style photo booths are usually more inviting because people can see others have fun using it and are drawn to it. In most cases, you’ll want to go for an open kiosk to encourage engagement.

Open-plan photo booths always draw a crowd of curious onlookers. (Photo by Catherine Dobrev)
Open-plan photo booths always draw a crowd of curious onlookers. (Photo by Catherine Dobrev)

Buy or rent a whole photo booth

Companies that offer photo booths for sale or rent often have different options available, from fully-serviced kiosks to software-only solutions and iPad stands.

At Keshot you can choose between a kiosk, a photographer-operated booth and a tablet version. Minbooth offer modular aluminium stands for iPad, DSLRr and a webcam/computer combination. The Photo Booth Guys offer old-school looking booths for hire in the UK and Australia.

Create your own photo booth

Many providers offer software that connects to your Windows or Mac computer, a DSLR or is run via an iPad or another tablet device. Some are software-only, others come with more elaborate setups.

Sparkbooth, for example, is software that runs on Windows and Mac and allows you to take photos with a webcam or a DSLR (DSLR license only). It’s software-only and you’ll have to figure out how you want to set up your DSLR or webcam.

Simplebooth has both DIY and business solutions. Their app’s Pro Edition is a one-off iPad app buy (for $299) and easy to set up fast at events. The Event Edition is the DIY equivalent — it’s cheaper ($59.99) but has fewer capabilities and requires more setting up. Simplebooth’s Enterprise solution comes with a lighting device and can be bought or subscribed to.

You can also completely DIY your photo booth! An Instructables guide shows how to set up a photo booth with an iPad and the Snap Booth app. The app is free, can push photos to Facebook and/or Twitter and set up hashtags to be added to posts. A weekly subscription is available to remove all advertising and the SnapBooth hashtag on posts.

Another Instructables guide shows how to set up a photo booth with the Party PhotoBooth app for Android. The app currently costs $3.40 and has the capability to push the photo strips to a specific Facebook profile or page. Good to know for developers: Party PhotoBooth is also open source!

Photo booth by hashtag

You can also set up a photo booth without using your own camera or device. Simply ask people to take a photo with their own phone and share it using a specific hashtag.

OnPage.org did just that at the digital marketing conference DMEXCO last week and created a social media wall full of pictures. They also offered free coffee as an incentive.

The Swat.io team at #dmexco 2016 in Cologne.
The swat.io Team is easily swayed by promises of caffeine. 😉

Checklist: Things to consider when choosing your photo booth

Which setup you’ll pick will depend on where you are based, your budget and what your specific needs are. With software-only solutions, you’re location-independent. However, often hardware setups can be sourced from local companies.

Your best bet will be to take to Google and search for photo booth providers near you as well as check out international providers. Figure out what you need and compare offers and prices to find your ideal option.

Here are the questions you should ask yourself and potential providers before making your final choice:

  • Which social media services does the app connect to? Walls.io supports a wide variety of social media networks, among them Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Flickr.
  • Can you auto-post photos to an account or album of your choice or with a certain hashtag? You’ll need to point Walls.io towards a specific account or hashtag to get all images into your live album.
  • Do you want to have the option to print photos directly from your photo booth?
  • Do you want the ability to create and post GIFs?
  • Which platforms do you want to use in your setup? Mac/Windows? iOS/Android? Which DSLR camera?

Placing your photo booth at your event

Once you’ve picked the right photo booth for your event, figure out where to set it up. Place it prominently at your venue, where it can draw attention and lure attendees in. But make sure you have enough room — you wouldn’t want your photo booth to be “in the way”. People should naturally flock to it, have enough room to manoeuvre around it, wait for their turn and chat to each other.

Set up signs pointing out the photo booth and promote it in your flyers, presentations, etc., together with your hashtags. Personally encourage people to use the booth. If you’re worried people won’t know how to use it, place an event promoter by the photo booth to help people out, explain how it works and motivate them.

The DMEXCO photo booth in Cologne with instructions for how to use it with your own phone.
The OnPage booth at #dmexco clearly explained how attendees could use the photo booth with their own phones.

You can also kick things off by sending your team to take a few photos. People can be shy about being the first to use something. Seeing it in use will make it easier for them to queue up.

Set up your workflow to get your photos online

Setting up automatic sharing should be easy enough with most apps. Your options will likely include:

  • Auto-posting to a specific Twitter account (with or without hashtag)
  • Auto-posting to a specific Facebook page or album
  • Auto-posting to an Instagram account (with or without hashtag)
  • Auto-posting to a Flickr album
  • Letting attendees log in and post to their own accounts with a specific hashtag

When posting to a Twitter account, it makes sense to create a separate account for your event. It’s just a precaution, so you don’t spam your regular followers with the overwhelming stream of photos.

Walls.io Tip
If for some reason your photo booth doesn’t support automatic sharing to your account make sure that attendee posts are always shared with your hashtag!

Connect to Walls.io to create your live event album

To create a live-updating album of your photo booth photos, set up your social media wall in Walls.io. Go to your settings and connect/authorise your account. This is an important step since you want your posts to fetch quickly and make your wall update quickly.

Depending on your workflow, add your Twitter profile, Facebook page, Flickr album or hashtag(s). You can also add a filter keyword or another hashtag if that makes sense with your setup and if you want to filter some things off your wall.

Style your social media wall the way you want it and brand it for your event. Display the wall at your event, either on a screen on stage or on displays around the venue.

Walls.io Tip
Use the title option in the Walls.io sharing settings to point attendees towards your photo booth.

You can change the title of your wall in your Walls.io sharing settings
Change the title of your wall in the sharing settings…

Your new social wall title will show on the top right hand side of your social media wall.

… to include a call to action for your photo booth.

Test your photo booth setup

Even the best setup can fail sometimes. Don’t forget to test your workflow before your event starts to work out any potential kinks. Take a couple of photos with the photo booth and check whether they make it all the way through to your social wall. Troubleshoot if necessary.

Walls.io Tip
Let your team take several photos with your photo booth. It’ll give you a chance to put your setup through its paces, as well as pre-fill your wall with a bunch of nice shots to motivate your attendees.

Once everything is set up and sufficiently tested, you can lean back and watch your social wall populate.

Share your wisdom!

How much fun are photo booths? We’d love to know what your preferred photo booth setup is and what you do to really incorporate this engaging and interactive experience into your event.