A Successful Interactive Experience Should Be Simple, Social And Fun

January 5, 2012

in How to, Miscellaneous, Networking

Creating “interactive experiences” is essential for live events, be them face-to-face (f2f), virtual) or hybrid (a mix of f2f and virtual). Interactive experiences are one of the reasons that justifies being present,  a way to connect attendees with each other, with the content and with the speakers.

Creating interactive experiences is also an over-hyped expression that’s often brought out to justify mobile technology or other kind of rube-goldbergian mechanism that participants end up by not using (not intuitive enough, too complicated, no real value added, etc). An art installation by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama dubbed “The Obliteration Room” shows how a great interactive experience is created and while this one was aimed to kids, it summarizes some of the key factors to create one (more on that below).

Kusama created a totally white room and provided thousands of colored stickers to kids that over the days placed them wherever they wanted, co-creating the new looks of the place.

Starting point: White Room


Work in progress: kid with colored stickers


Final result: room full of colored freckles

Essential Ingredients for a Great Interactive Experience for Your Event

While working on summarizing the process, I came through with a few things that might seem obvious to you but if you analyze many efforts that are made at conferences they totally miss these points.

(A typical failed experience I see over and over again is one including QR codes as an entry point and expecting people to start interacting with them out of the blue. It fails because of one or more of the following: people don’t know what a QR code is or how to use it, they don’t have a smartphone a QR code reader in it, don’t have internet access or it’s not provided by the event, the experience is dull or not worth interacting with in a third place, because of this they don’t invite other attendees to take part in it).

A great interactive experience should:

  1. Be designed for all attendees and not just for a specific group
  2. Be easy to use (ability factor)
  3. Motivate people to take part of it (motivation)
  4. Include a trigger that acts as a call to action for people to take part of it
  5. Have results that are memorable (wow factor), that stimulate conversation

BJ Fogg, founder of the Standford Persuasion Lab,  created a Behavior Model framework that combines the simultaneous presence of Motivation, Ability (easiness of use) and a Trigger (call to action) for a given Behavior to happen.

Fogg distilled several successful behavior recipes that can be applied to create such an interactive experience, one of them being Simple, Social, Fun. This formula is behind the success of popular iOS apps like Instagram and can also be applied in a low tech environment.

Consider how Kusama’s installation mentioned above satisfies these three conditions: it’s simple to use (give out a few colored stickers to the kids), it achieves its result by social interaction (several people applying the stickers inside the white room) and it’s fun for the kids to do too. The visual result is amazing (wow factor) and am sure than many of the kinds had it photographed it with their parents mobile phone and shared it with their friends (and other parents too).

What kind of simple, social and fun interactive experience could you create at your next event? (And if you do create or created one, I’d like to know about it! Pleas email me the details)



Photos where taken from Colossal and Courier Mail AU



  • http://twitter.com/MarcelvOverveld Marcel van Overveld

    Love the article and can definitely relate to points mentioned. However just saw a great QR-code experience working, check this: Great example of new media use. Video: QR-code Marketing by Heineken http://shar.es/WjAcR

    • http://www.gchicco.com Gianfranco Chicco

      Thanks for sharing the link Marcel. 

      This Heineken experience is surely Social and Fun. For this specific demographic (young, hip and into music festivals), and considering that the Netherlands has a high penetration of smartphones, it looks like it worked very well… in most cases the weak link is the use of a QR code because a majority of audiences 1) usually don’t have a smartphone or a QR scanner app and 2) there is no good internet coverage to use it.
      Two things I like about this particular Heineken interactive experience is that they made it simple to create the codes at a specific location in the festival and that the result of scanning the code was simple too: a personalized message by the “owner” of the code.

      (At PICNIC in ’09 we achieved a similar success by using RFID tags -were provided to all attendees together with their badge- that worked directly by touching sensors applied all over the place, no special apps required). 

  • Ilko Tonen

    Great Story Gianfranco, and we of Virtual Orange totally agree. 

    That’s why we developed the user-friendly and very complete Community knowledge Centre (CkC) for organizers of Exhibitions and Congreses as an extension of their physical event. For more information please check our website http://www.virtualorange.euNOTE: we have just launched a great app for during your exhibition or congress. Not expensive, with one sponsor you can offer your attendees this great tool. Be innovative!

  • Pingback: associationjam.org()

Previous post:

Next post: