The iconic, 72-story Bank of America Plaza, outlined in its signature neon green lights, is hard to miss along the nighttime Dallas skyline. People’s curiosity is especially peaked, however, when the BOMA 360-designated and TOBY® Award-winning skyscraper’s lights temporarily change color with special events, holidays or other events, like pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
But, now, even the public can personalize the color of a skyline. If someone creates a username and obtains the correct password from the building managers—Peloton Commercial Real Estate—they can bring up a variety of colors with an app on their phone. There are 16 colors, four animations and six light shows.
Peloton rolled out the app last September, initially offering it to the building’s tenants, brokers and tenant representatives, but expanded it to the public. The app allows people to create their own light shows for everything from gender reveal parties to engagement parties.
Peloton launched the initiative by giving out exclusive invitations and logins on Instagram. People who followed Bank of America Plaza and Downtown Dallas, Inc. on Instagram could enter and tag friends in the comments.
Building owners and property management companies like Peloton are recognizing the power of Instagram. With reportedly one billion monthly active users—and its popular photo filters and easy-sharing options—50 billion photos have been shared on the platform.
THE REMARKABLE POWER OF INSTAGRAM
Instagram is an easy way to keep a building in the spotlight, especially if it boasts eye-catching lighting, colorful art, a water feature, an interesting sculpture—anything that people are excited to snap a photo of and post. The platform can highlight a building’s location, amenities and culture and help market space for prospective tenants looking to recruit talent.
"We’ve had an Instagram account for Bank of America Plaza for a few years, but we really started ramping it up within the last year," says Jason McNellie, creative director at Peloton. "Once we started the promotions giving away [light show] logins on Instagram, our Instagram followers shot up. It became our conduit to really connecting with those users."
And, those users wield power. Roughly 60 percent of Instagram users discover products, services and locations on the platform, and 75 percent take action, like visiting a website after looking at a brand’s post.
While Peloton utilizes Instagram to promote activities and initiatives for current tenants, the goal is for any future tenants to see what’s happening at Bank of America Plaza. "We’re still all trying to find our footing as to how social media is going to help us," McNellie notes. "That’s why we tied Instagram with the building app. I don’t know that social media itself is going to bring tenants, but leveraged with two or three other elements, that’s when you start to really see the power of all the new media as a way to market."
CONNECTING TO YOUNGER WORKERS
Millennials and Gen Zers are driving the social media trend. Around 70 percent of Instagram users are under age 35. "You have to be a place that people want to be, so companies are looking for environments that attract the younger group of people…and will retain them," explains Stefanie Fincher, a partner at Peloton. "Selling yourself as a destination, a place that they want to be part of is huge."
And, while decision-makers themselves may not be on Instagram, their workforce is. "They’re all over it looking at what does this place provide, the different amenities around and inside the building," McNellie says.
Megan McCloskey also is well aware of the influence of Instagram. She’s director of marketing at Harbor East Management Group, which owns, leases and manages the Class A Bond Street Wharf in Baltimore’s Harbor East neighborhood. "Instagram is beginning to play a large role in how we think about designing and curating spaces around Harbor East," she notes. "Whether we’re hosting a community event, renovating an interior space or capturing photos for our own social channels, our goal is to create an eye-catching and distinct sense of place that will draw people in and elicit a ‘wow’ factor—in person and on devices."
For Bond Street Wharf, she says the large-scale steps on the building’s south side, overlooking Baltimore’s harbor, are a natural choice for a photo op, as is the big painted moniker on the building’s exterior on the west side. "When creating these ‘Instagrammable’ spaces, we consider how the space will be used and how the photo will be shared," McCloskey explains. "We’re deliberate when using location tags and hashtags on our own channels, and we encourage tenants and businesses occupying these spaces to follow suit."
She adds that hosting contests and giveaways where followers are encouraged to take their own photo, share on Instagram and tag friends is a proven way to circulate the image more widely. By sharing these "moments in time," McCloskey says they’re giving brick and mortar a personality and a human touch, fostering an emotional connection to the property.
Instagram is an easy way to keep a building in the spotlight, especially if it boasts eye-catching lighting, colorful art, a water feature, an interesting sculpture—anything that people are excited to snap a photo of and post.
HOW TO CREATE INSTAGRAMMABLE SPACES
"You create an Instagrammable space by doing something interesting in order to stir up energy; something unusual that people don’t typically see," explains Cory Morris, senior associate at Chicago-based landscape architect Hoerr Schaudt. He offers three tips:
- Make an impact. Create a bold first impression for those experiencing the space. "If there’s a big ‘wow’ factor or surprise or something people didn’t expect, that really makes a great first impression," Morris says. "Make it big and punchy and something that just catches the eye."
- Design for scale. "Create a comfortable place that people want to be in," Morris notes. That could be a small, intimate courtyard or a huge public park or plaza. For example, if it’s a garden or small courtyard, create overhead elements like pergolas, awnings or trees over seating and gathering spaces.
- Don’t be boring. The space has to offer something unique that people will want to share, Morris adds. The more of a "fun factor" an experience has, the better.
"You don’t want to Instagram a photo that’s mundane and boring," Morris explains. "If it’s not interesting to you, why would it be interesting to other people? Give people something new, different and fresh."
Keeping social media platforms like Instagram in mind when designing and maintaining a space might take getting used to, but a relatively small investment can pay off with more engaged tenants, increased appeal to younger workers and a stronger building brand.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Liz Wolf is a Twin Cities-based freelance writer with 30-plus years of business and commercial real estate reporting experience. She previously served as editor of the Minnesota Real Estate Journal.
This article was originally published in the May/June 2019 issue of BOMA Magazine.