What New York Comic Con taught us about User Experience

New York Comic-Con is a real-world re-creation of a digital marketplace.

NYCC is a real-world re-creation of a digital marketplace.

It’s just like the digital space–crowded, tons of distractions, hordes of individuals being creative, trying to stand out, as well as observers paying attention to what many different brands trying to do the same things and reach the same audience.

Grab attention and retain interest

Exhibitors at NYCC are assigned booths, which they decorate in order to attract con attendees. They use different tactics–music, flashy decorations, giveaways, and exclusive items, to get you to come into their booth. From Marvel giving away giant Juggernaut statues to Weta Workshop’s giant Lord of the Rings models, the larger brands spared no expense. The best booths were the ones that had something worthwhile once they attracted attention.

It’s easier to lose attention than to gain it at Comic Con. Many booths drew looks from passersby, but didn’t have anything that made them stay.

In digital marketing, brands that stand out and differentiate will capture the most eyeballs. However, only smart brands will understand that providing sustained value is the only way to retain an audience and grow a relationship with consumers.

Create a safe environment

In comic conventions, harassing cosplayers (specifically female cosplayers) has been a problem. This year, NYCC instituted a zero-tolerance policy, and made it known through signs all over the con floor.

Con goers had been asking for this for a while. The environment at the convention became much more friendly for a large number of attendees, as they could feel safer knowing that security had their backs.

Snapchat, iCloud, etc. ask users to trust them with their personal information and photos, but have frequently let them down. Snapchat, whose entire appeal is deleting photos shortly after they’ve been viewed, has been saving users’ photos the whole time, and recently had a security breach.

Let your users be awesome

One of the main attractions of New York Comic Cons–and all cons, really–is cosplay. Every year, thousands of people dress up as their favorite characters from pop culture. It’s arguably the most well-known aspect of comic conventions, and Comic Con doesn’t even need to do anything for it to happen other than provide a space for it.

One of the most common practices at comic conventions is taking pictures with cosplayers, which has only grown as social posting has grown. You don’t have to look hard for proof. A quick look at the #NYCC hashtag on Instagram or just about any article related to Comic Con will feature cosplay photos.

Your users are your best source of easily repeatable interesting content. Give your users a space to be creative, and they’ll run with it. Vine and YouTube are the perfect digital examples of why this works. Both Vine and YouTube provide the platform, and the users do the rest. They thrive off of user-generated content.

Brands have adopted a similar model for their digital strategies. Applebee’s is using fans’ Instagram photos to post to their own instagram (with the creators’ permission of course). Similarly, Miller Lite ran a promotion in which they chose seven photos tagged with #ItsMillerTime to feature in a TV ad. About 180,000 photos were submitted to Miller Lite, and Applebee’s claims that there are 779,000 photos tagged with #Applebees on Instagram.