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Photo printing kiosks have been in the market for over a decade, but the new wave of photo kiosks are more socially focused. We recently spoke with Alexander Lowe, CEO and co-founder of iSnap Social, the Sacramento-based creator of the Social Photo Station that is now found in 150 locations.

First deployed in December of 2010, the company recently announced the 500,000th image shared via its kiosks, resulting in 100 million online impressions. 

iSnap Social's Photo Station allows users to take a photo at a venue or event and upload it to social networks like Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter. Unlike traditional photo kiosks that are designed with some form of output as the final product, the Photo Station is designed with social interaction in mind. Kiosks are placed in high-traffic locations letting users take high-quality photos that are integrated with a brand message.

"The holy grail of social-media marketing is enticing your customers to market on your behalf and there’s no better way to do that than photo sharing," said Lowe. The iSnap cloud-based backend tracks metrics that gather usage statistics, conversions, time and demographic information.

Lowe said the concept was hatched at a Kioskcom trade show, where he saw the trend of online advertising moving into kiosks and mobile. "Kiosks were lagging behind the web in social," he said, noting photos are one of the drivers of social engagement.

"We see the next generation be the social layer and a more social web," he added. "We provide a social experience via a real world kiosk."

The company has teamed up various partners who would not normally be considered suitable for traditional photo kiosks. Customers using iSnap Social kiosks to boost their social-media marketing campaigns include CBS Radio, Live Nation and Hyatt Resorts. Some of the non-traditional placements include a yogurt shop, a tanning salon and a veterinary clinic.

Why, then, would anyone use this kiosk instead of just snapping away with increasingly popular smartphones?

"Our offerings don't replace mobile phones, they complement it," said Lowe. The kiosk provides a high-quality photo experience — especially useful in the sometimes photographically challenging venues the kiosks are found. In addition, iSnap offers high-quality image capture, for easy group shots, along with graphics tied into the venue.

"Our kiosks amplify the marketing message, and the content gets much higher engagement than just snapshots," said Lowe. iSnap also offers a complete toolset to allow brands to determine how they want to engage "in an authentic and honest" way, he added.

Photos are only the first step in the evolution of the iSnap kiosk; future plans will include different media types and integration with mobile platforms.

"Creating that [personal social network] engagement connects the user to the brand, and they become an advocate for that brand."

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