Why are we so excited to present our interactive session, Beacons & Wayfinding Apps: New Digital Exhibit Engagement, at next week's American Alliance of Museums annual conference?
It’s because beacons are small but mighty, packing a powerful interactive punch.
Hold up…what is a beacon?
It’s a type of transmitter, roughly the size of a quarter, and powered by a wee little battery or a wall outlet. When coupled with an app, the transmitters allows apps to understand their position on a micro-local scale, and deliver hyper-contextual content based on location using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).
Translating from #nerdspeak, imagine a world where you can:
…Walk by your favorite store and learn about a special sale, or get a coupon at the store related to what you are viewing nearby.
…Ditch the paper museum map and get guided wayfinding with curated routes and themes.
…Set up an interactive event, like our client the Consumer Electronics Show, who used beacons to great success this year encouraging folks to engage across the massive, full extent of their conference across numerous Las Vegas hotels.
The potential is pretty amazing.
For those of you who can’t attend our session (or those that want a sneak peek), here’s a primer on how to ensure your first foray into the world of beacons is a successful one:
1. Be proactive.
Leverage existing tools from established companies (such as Radius Networks, Estimote, Gimbal, and Kontakt) with existing SDKs for a fast and inexpensive start.
2. Plan for the end goal.
Pretty please, don’t use beacons for the sake of using beacons. Make sure you articulate exactly what “engagement” really means for your organization, and how beacons help achieve your objectives.
3. Tactics are key.
Organize and execute around your priorities, while considering what will be of interest to folks within proximity of the beacons. What interaction and types of messaging will make folks engage with the app?
4. Measure twice, cut once.
How will this work in the wild? Test and map beacon placement (and then test it again). The configuration of your space and the sensitivity settings of your beacons can make or break the success of your offering.
5. Don’t reinvent.
Especially when you’re dipping your toe in the water with beacons, it’s best to layer this into what you’re currently offering (i.e. add it to an existing exhibit to augment interaction and content) to test how folks like and use this new channel.
It goes without saying, but be sure to promote your use of beacons in all your marketing and social channels. This is especially true since users must have your app downloaded and on before it can receive a beacon transmission.
See what’s working and what isn’t. Are you using the right alerts and messaging? Is the beacon placement effective to hit your goals? Are you getting folks to download the app in the first place?
If you’re considering a foray into beacons or have an epic success or fail, we’re all ears! Share your thoughts below in the comments.