It's an Instagram economy. The idea that if you didn't shoot it, it didn't really happen is now commonplace. And smart brands are finding creative ways to leverage our incessant need for validation. The earned media value they can garner by creating activations, installations and experiences designed to be shared eclipses any necessary investment in creative development, production and media spend. Here are some of the smartest experiential activations by brands, that just beg to be snapped.

1. Paul Smith, Instagrammable Walls

Perhaps the originators of the Instagrammable wall, Paul Smith painted their exterior walls of their flagship LA store in a bright, candy pink. The iconic wall is now referred to as a landmark, and has received almost 100,000 posts by users. From all accounts, Instagram walls are unlikely to disappear. In an unusual move, Netflix is trying to acquire Regency Outdoor, an LA-based billboard company, for $300 million. Their interest in an asset that, used correctly, would allow them to treble the impressions of the original billboard through user-generated content, only solidifies the omnipotence of this trend.

2. Delta and Tinder, Profile Picture Assist

In a clever and highly-targeted campaign, Delta and Tinder teamed up to create a mural plastered with pictures of iconic and exotic locations all over the world, in a buzzing pocket of Brooklyn. Passerby's were encouraged to take a picture of themselves, standing in front of the different global landmarks and use them as their Tinder dating profile picture. After all, who doesn't want to date a jetsetter? This campaign was focused, actionable and showed consumers that both Tinder and Delta understood their needs.

3. Roman & Williams, Little Piece of Paris

The designers created a flagship store to sell their premium furniture and in doing so, created an experience that couldn't be more contrary to Ikea. The store is laid out like a Parisian mansion, full of fascinating nooks, imaginative trinkets and far-flung niceties. You feel like a guest wandering the floors, not a customer. The invitation to linger, stroll and snap the surroundings is further encouraged by a café serving up a slate of Parisian delicacies.

4. Kellogg's, Cereal Bar

Kellogg's opened a cereal bar in Manhattan that shamelessly and brilliantly plays a nostalgic harp to children of the 80s and 90s. The pop-up serves up its classics as well as contemporary, healthy twist on their staples. Menu items include modern options like #KumquatLife or retro flashbacks like, Life In Color, featuring Fruit Loops topped with even more sugary items. And it's working. The original concept store had to shut down to make way for a bigger premise. What started as a marketing initiative has become a business unit in its own right.

5. Gregory's Hotel, Themed Guest Rooms

New York's Gregory Hotel created a Stranger Things themed room, just in time for Halloween last year. While very few actually stayed in the room, many talked, blogged and shared the idea. The room came equipped with Eggos, house wine (in a can), a tapestry of lights (so you can re-enact key scenes of the show), branded pillows and most importantly, a connection to Google Chromecast so you can binge watch the season in one night. This marketing stunt was very cost efficient: one can assume any product they needed got donated by participating brands, and the earned media value of the package eclipsed all projections.

6. Clos19, Experiences for Sale 

Moet Hennessy understand that when it comes to life's fineries, it's the experiences that matter. Rather than relying on their consumers to make their own magic, they created an e-commerce channel, called Clos19, that not only sold their beverages, but sold experiences to match. Trips on offer include; Art & Culture weekends in Paris, tours of the Scottish Highlands and even the Wonders of Antarctica. Moet Hennessy is effectively entering the world of travel; another aspirational category, adjacent to their core competency in alcoholic beverages. Every trip is guaranteed to be snapped and shared on social, thus multiplying Moet Hennessy's impact.

7. Ozmosis, Payment Models

Finally, a surf shop in Australia allowed customers to "Pay with Pain". Customers received a discount for showing bruises, scrapes, scratches and injuries.  Legality aside, Ozmosis created a campaign that begged to be snapped and shared, in a way that is true to its DNA. The brand is all about surf, and surfing is all about getting up, falling over and trying again. The brand understands and celebrates that and has incorporated it into their business model, in a way that invites consumers to be part of it.

Published on: May 17, 2018