“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” This keeps springing to mind every time I visit a place that has been pretty much designed with Instagrammers in mind (Yes, I’m looking at you Daybreaker sunrise yoga in Sydney). Has it got to the point that if what you have been doing hasn’t appeared on the ‘gram, then it might as well not have happened at all?

As digital marketers we know the value of shareable content and experiences. It is well known that User Generated Content (UGC) is far more powerful than any communication that a brand or organisation sends out itself. According to the Nielsen Consumer Trust Index, 92% of consumers trust organic, user-generated content (UGC) more than they trust traditional advertising. It’s the third-party endorsement that money can’t buy and that brand marketers should be aiming to generate. Why try and convince an audience of something through paid advertising if you can get a happy customer to say it for you?

Instagram is the platform for sharing visual content, and because of the general lean towards the photos being aesthetically pleasing, it is almost guaranteed that the experiences shared are positive. Creating an Instagrammable experience can go a long way towards encouraging UGC and awareness for your brand. What does Instagrammable mean you may ask? (Is that a real word even? My spell check is screaming no.) I would define Instagrammable as something on trend that makes a beautiful photo. I’m partial to a stunning view, a bit of neon and tiled floors, if I visit somewhere with any of those things, they are in my feed or Stories before you can say #ihavethisthingwithtiles.

Find out what your audience finds Instagrammable and make sure it is a part of the experience when they buy your product or service. There is no doubt that Instagram is a place to showcase the highlights of your life, it is a highly edited show reel and undeniably features brag worthy experiences eg your holiday, new shoes, amazing food and drink, beautiful interiors, the best view. There’s a reason why the hashtag #livingmybestlife has been used 2.9 MILLION times on Instagram.

Brands have picked up on the many benefits of creating Instagrammable interiors, packaging and experiences. By creating an environment or packaging that is just pleading to be photographed and shared on Instagram, you are more than halfway there to encouraging a customer to create content (and positive endorsement) that will be seen by their friends / followers, who already trust their opinion. That is why we are seeing more and more opportunities to take photos, and more direct calls to action. How often have you seen “Take a photo here and share with our hashtag.” A competition mechanic can also encourage customers to take photos and share them eg “Share your photo on Instagram with our hashtag to be in with a chance to win a trip to Tasmania”.

At a recent open-air dinner in Sydney, (Diner en Blanc) there was a queue half a mile long to sit on a swing branded by Moet & Chandon to win a magnum of Champagne, as long as you took a photo and shared on social media. It’s not a new trend. In 2015 Stoneleigh Wines invested a large proportion of their marketing budget to create Stoneleigh House #50 in Millers Point. The house was taken over with creeping vines, grassy floors and new tastes and smells to showcase the region and flavours of the wines. Creating some theatre around a brand event is becoming an essential part of the marketing mix to leverage an event much broader than just the people attending.

Taking the Instagram craziness to the next level is Sugar Republic, an Instagrammer’s dream come true. This temporary exhibition of cake, candy and oh-so-pretty room sets toured around key cities in Australia and called on consumers to experience a vibrant, Willy Wonka world, with their cameras at the ready. With brands such as Arnotts and Streets ice cream partnering with the event, there were large-scale, interactive activations and sampling, but all planned around the all-important photo opportunity. The hashtag #sugarrepublic has been used over 19,000 times on Instagram. But for what gain? The experience was booked out solidly for weeks, there was a general buzz on social media about it from every blogger that matters, but did the brands get anything measurable out of it? It’s hard to imagine that the return was very high for anyone but the event curator.

Globally, The Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco and the Rosé Mansion in New York could all be considered events that are designed with Instagram fully front of mind. What can we learn from this, aside from the world has gone crazy? Creating aesthetically pleasing environments that encourage consumers to take photographs, is a fantastic way of getting your customers to immerse themselves in your brand, to share their experience on social media and become an ambassador for your brand. Whether it’s a neon sign that is just perfect to take a selfie in front of or a beautifully designed wall of products, there are some very simple (and cheap ways) of gaining UGC that could appear in front of thousands of people on the Instagram news feed or Stories feed. Time to get creative and put your company in the frame.