Do you remember how much fun it was to take photo booth selfies at in-person events? We do and truly miss the feeling. It was a great way to effortlessly connect with other attendees, making events dynamic and entertaining. To bring that same joy to virtual events, Walls.io partnered with Snapbar, an event and photo marketing solution that makes it easy for users to create personalized photo content. The integration premiered at the Kafka Summit 2021, and here’s how it went.
For over six years, Kafka Summit has been bringing together developers, data architects, engineers, and DevOps professionals to discuss the state of the event streaming technologies. In 2021, three separate events took place for the EU, APAC, and the Americas, with a combined attendance of 55,000+.
Each event was optimized for its local time zone and had its own call for papers, networking opportunities, and unique user-generated content via the social wall and the virtual photo booth integration.
Before we started collaborating with Snapbar, Kafka Summit organizers had asked attendees to post their selfies to the social wall using a hashtag. With the Walls.io x Snapbar integration, all selfies could be published to the wall automatically — without going through social media first. So while moderation needed to happen on both platforms separately, the rest was seamless.
We talked to Will Hansen, VP of Global Events at eventi Productions, about how the integration was a game-changer for attendee engagement.
VP, Global Events, eventi Productions
Could you please tell us more about the Kafka Summit?
As event streaming platforms become central to data strategies, companies both small and large are re-thinking their architecture with real-time context at the forefront. What started at companies like LinkedIn, Uber, Netflix, and Yelp has made its way to countless others in various sectors. Today, thousands of companies across the globe build their businesses on top of Apache Kafka®. Apache Kafka is a community-distributed event streaming platform capable of handling trillions of events a day. Since being created and open-sourced by LinkedIn in 2011, Kafka has quickly evolved from messaging queue to a full-fledged event streaming platform.
Kafka Summit is the premier event for data architects, engineers, DevOps professionals, and developers who want to learn about streaming data. It brings the Apache Kafka community together to share best practices, write code, and discuss the future of streaming technologies.
There were three regional Kafka Summit events in 2021 — EU, APAC, and Americas — with a combined attendance of 55,000+.
As we pivoted to virtual events in the second half of 2020 and all of 2021, we were looking for different ways to engage attendees other than just content. Virtual events, in general, lack the human interaction we are all used to when attending an in-person event. We wanted attendees to feel, at the very least, that they weren’t alone in attending Kafka Summit virtually. We needed some “fun” elements and decided to use Snapbar for a photo booth and Walls.io to display attendees’ photos within the virtual platform in a section of the platform we called Get Social.
What difference did you notice in how willing people were to participate and post content to the wall after introducing the integration?
Before the integration, we had to rely on attendees to upload pics to their social channels and use the conference hashtags in order for them to populate the wall. It was good, but not great. We were lucky to pull in 10, maybe 15, posts total to the Get Social page, which at that point was mostly filled with sponsors using the conference hashtags to get visitors to their virtual booth. Not exactly the “Get Social” goal we had in mind. With the Snapbar x Walls.io integration, we saw a huge uptick in engagement numbers, and the social wall was constantly generating new posts.
How did you promote the hashtag to your attendees, and how did you motivate them to take a #StreamingSelfie?
Attendees were encouraged to use #StreamingSelfie and #KafkaSummit through the event Twitter handle. Both hashtags were also pre-populated within Snapbar. Gamification was also built into the platform, and one of the ways attendees could gain points was by taking a selfie using Snapbar. Points could then be used for raffle tickets to be entered to win a variety of different prizes.
I think it achieved our goal of giving attendees something fun to do, outside of just watching content and visiting sponsors’ virtual booths. It provided live, human interaction, or as much as can be expected from a virtual event.
Now that Snapbar and Walls.io have an integration option, I think we will definitely keep using this going forward. Both products are easy to set up and deploy and are a cost-effective solution to enhance attendee engagement.
5 lessons we learned from the Kafka Summit use case
Make it fun
One of the main challenges of virtual events is to make people interact with others as they’d do at an in-person event. And while networking rooms and matchmaking solutions are great to make valuable connections, we still need something more — a bit of fun.
Real-life social walls and photo booths are two of the most significant engagement drivers for virtual events simply because people enjoy creating and sharing content. So why not combine both tools to get an ultimate interactive solution?
Creating custom photo content and displaying it on a social wall fosters community and helps speakers and sponsors connect with the audience. Moreover, by showing selfies from attendees, you help your speakers fight the feeling that they’re talking into a vacuum. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Generate more content in a user-friendly way
Creating and sharing content within a community of like-minded people is what makes virtual events entertaining. But for it to work, you need to simplify the process as much as you can. Integrating a photo booth with a social wall does just that because users need only a few clicks to create, style, and post their content.
Eliminate privacy concerns
People love taking selfies. But, let’s face it, not everyone would like to share them publicly. Our integration with Snapbar solves this issue because attendees don’t have to post anything from their personal social media profiles and worry about their content going public (unless they want to).
By the end of the day, the content that appears on your wall is unique and exists exclusively on the event website/platform, which is another excellent benefit for many attendees. It makes it the perfect solution for internal events, too, with privacy being a great matter for those.
We love it when our customers amaze us with their creativity. Kafka Summit organizers took a step further and used gamification techniques to motivate their attendees to share their content. That is a great example of how you can give people an extra push to take action.
Add a little bit of spice
With a virtual photo booth connected to a social wall, you can still pull UGC from various social media platforms as well. Mix selfies with other content, such as tweets, IG TV, and even sponsors’ posts. To come full circle: make it fun and make sure you explore more ideas on how you can make your virtual events fun and memorable.