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Social Startups: iSnap Uses Selfies to Seamlessly Connect Offline, Online Moments


Selfies don’t discriminate. Celebrities, daredevils, breastfeeding moms, and even new fathers take them. Consider the selfies you’ve seen lately. What made you do a double take? For me, dramatic stories and remarkable backgrounds caught my attention.

So how can we use this trend to our marketing advantage? Sacramento startup, iSnap, combines the beloved photo booth moment with the selfie.

“There are wide institutional and knowledge gaps around social media implementation that inside marketing organizations are facing, and iSnap provides a way to make that transition smoothly and quickly,” says iSnap co-founder and CTO Alexander Lowe. “We know it can be hard to entice people to talk about your brand. We make it easy for marketers to promote their brand's message in a fun, engaging way.” Image

You can buy or rent the iSnap for your office or events, enticing customers to take keepsake photos (sans long arms) that they can upload instantly to Facebook or Twitter for free. While many of the images are group shots, or groupies, rather than single selfies, you can leverage the phenomenon to tell your story visually in a way that is both relevant and strategic. You get branded photos shared online in real time, and access to your customers’ emails and social networks. 

“I was inspired by the power of how the web was evolving to become more of a platform to connect individuals through social media, and not just an analog of traditional one-to-one information sharing and communication,” says Lowe, whose background in the kiosk/self-service space gave him the opportunity to play a unique roll in this evolution. “The specific [light bulb] moment was at a kiosk industry tradeshow that was attempting to use social media to promote itself...poorly. On the flight home, I sketched out the basic tenets of what iSnap is today.”

Lowe and co-founder, COO Dat Tau built the first iSnap products in Tau's living room as, “The garage got too hot in the Sacramento summer,” Lowe says. Since launching in December 2010 when selfies as we know them today were born, the company has delivered 450 of its photo stations in seven countries. And photos generated from the iSnap network of photo stations recently passed 1.5 million.

“We bring the concept of ‘presence’ to the mix,” Lowe says. “We have a physical touch point with our stations and devices to engage with customers. It can be hard to drive traffic to a web site, a social media brand page, or a mobile app. Our presence-based marketing products enable brands to connect with consumers in real time, while they are having great experiences.”

A suite of iSnap analytics software allows you to track everything that happens in your venue—from data capture to running promotions via third party APIs and demographics insight. For instance, small restaurants, doctors, and family entertainment centers use the products to deliver coupons and specials. Large cruise lines, sporting teams, and resorts integrate the customer insight data into their loyalty or guest analytics systems to be more effective marketers. Image

“Regardless of industry and size, iSnap delivers the basic tenets of social media: to build audiences and get customers talking about your brand experience,” says Lowe. “There’s a great mix of owned and earned media—your brand's message is featured on shared customer photos while they get to participate in conversation and broadcast their message in an authentic way.”

He says prices can vary widely based on the needs of the customer, so it’s best to get in touch so they can work out a solution.

“I predict iSnap will be the go-to company for presence-based marketing as we continue to expand our network of installed devices as well as users that log into iSnap regularly to check out their and their friend's photos. We have some really cool products in the pipeline that will help us further implement our concept of presence and more seamlessly connect our offline experiences with our online communities.”

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