An idea to link up a photo booth with social media gave birth to Photoboxx, a Spokane Valley business that sets up at events to give away prints of photos snapped by Instagram users.
Just over a year ago, Michael Fisk and Devon Lind worked to build the technology behind a photo-printing station that Photoboxx now installs at public events, where people gathered for fun activities are prone to take photos with their cellphones. When Instagram users post their snapshots with a designated event hashtag, they get a free Polaroid-style photo that prints from the company’s booth.
Harnessing social media as a marketing tool is what draws the companies or organizations that hire Photoboxx, Fisk and Lind said. Next, the partners are hoping to link the Photoboxx service to photos posted on Twitter as well.
Fisk, who also runs a wedding photography business, said Photoboxx is a way a sponsor can connect an event to its brand name that becomes part of a photo tag seen among multiple social media users.
“No one feels they’re being marketed to,” Fisk said. “It’s very organic. They’re just sharing.”
The business recently booked its largest event to date, last month’s Hoopfest, where its Photoboxx station drew more than 2,210 Instagram posts tagged with #centurylinkhoops. CenturyLink, a Hoopfest sponsor, paid for Photoboxx to set up in Riverfront Park. Lind said that the offer of free photos helped its hashtag get more posts than the official Hoopfest tag.
Lind is a recent computer science graduate from Whitworth University, and he and Fisk talked about the popularity of images shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Started as a photography-sharing platform in 2010, Instagram has more than 150 million users.
“We have plenty of ideas of how to make the Internet more tangible; printing photos is one way,” said Lind (no relation to the writer).
Although more people are taking photos with devices and storing digital images on computers, rather than putting prints in scrapbooks or shoeboxes, Fisk said tangible photos still retain a certain appeal.
“When people get prints, they actually think it’s the coolest thing,” Fisk said. “I think there will always be something attractive about a physical photo you can hold in your hand. Our photos are good quality.”
Photoboxx also recently set up at Eastern Washington University’s graduation, and The Farm Chicks Antiques Show in Spokane. Some of its smaller printing stations are mounted on a wall at weddings, but mostly, Photoboxx uses a large 8-foot-by-8-foot cube with slots where prints kick out.
He said the company also provides clients with analytics, such as numbers for how many views of a hashtag, and figures for “likes” and “shares.” He and Fisk said the Photoboxx service starts around $1,000 for a small event and goes up from there, depending on the event’s size and number of days it is held.
Lind and Fisk met while doing technical services as members of True Hope Church in Spokane. In their first joint project for the church, they put together a website called www.asktruehope.com to allow any Spokane resident to ask a question about faith. Those questions voted on and selected by the most users became subjects for an eight-week teaching series at the church.
Fisk said he juggles his time between Photoboxx, his role as creative director at True Hope, and his photography business. Lind works full time for Photoboxx, which also employs two part timers.
The owners work on the business out of their homes. Lind lives in north Spokane, and Fisk in Spokane Valley.
“We’re working on getting an office location in the next couple of weeks,” Fisk said. “We’re wanting to expand into the Seattle market by this fall.”
Lind said another goal for the company is to land larger sporting events.
“We want to be at stadiums, really promoting a sporting event,” he said. “That’s where companies are going to go, more marketing through social media.”