The Pop-Up Trend Takes Over Social Media

Pop-up museums, stores, restaurants, and interactive displays have taken over big cities across the United States. The temporary attractions are surrounded around the idea of being unique and unexpected. Social Media has driven the trend of pop-up events, focused on being the perfect “instagrammable” moment.

By Katherine Welch
News Reporter

The explore page of Instagram can be a never-ending black hole. Countless hours spent scrolling through apps, analyzing the latest trends and events. With everyone seeking the most picture worthy locations, the “pop-up” trend has taken over social media.

“Pop-ups” have become increasingly common over the last few years. They are temporary experiences that can last for a few hours, days or even months. The fad has stemmed into pop-up museums, stores, restaurants, and interactive displays. These pop-up places are built around the idea of being unique and unexpected.

Big cities like New York and Los Angeles are full of pop-ups. Different experiences on every street corner are as diverse as the city populations. Recently, events have popped up in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.

“They all have a cool or quirky eye-catching factor, whether it be an outlandish dessert or a unique backdrop with props to take photos,” said Stasia Rygiel, an Instagram blogger and influencer. “These “pop-ups” likely gain most of their traction due to social media.”

Some are museums featuring a new artist making a name for themselves or bars themed around the latest trendy television series. Others are rooms filled with giant ball pits to make life seem extra colorful and fun, or trendy ice-cream shops with endless toppings to satisfy every sweet tooth.

The common denominator is “instagrammability.” They feature unique photo experiences to match every aesthetic.

“When one person posts their photo sitting in a pool of ice cream sprinkles on their Instagram, their friends are instantly pulled in and think ‘I need to go wherever this is. I need this picture, too!’,” Rygiel said.

Rygiel described that pressure our generation feels to visit certain locations for the opportunity to post a cute, eye catching social media post. After visiting a Google pop-up show, she posted a photo series from the event of a shifting rainbow walled room. The expected response occurred when hundreds of people direct messaged her to find out where to take the same photo.  

Most of these pop-ups are designed to tap into the culture that social media has created in recent years. The idea is that you can be a part of something exclusive for a limited time that will make your followers question what they’re missing out on.

“Right now, user generated content is something many brands are fighting over. It costs $0 in paid media, but consumers are still seeing their name pop up on their timelines,” said Sydney Pellegrini, a pop-up attendee. “Pop-ups create a cool environment that generate buzz, adding more branded content on social media without being overtly in-your face.”

While most are focused on “instagrammable” moments, some pop-ups are making a difference in their communities. A recent pop-up in New York City featured a $3 photo booth where the proceeds were given to local schools.

The pop-up trend has the potential to foster positive change within communities. By focusing on events that help others, pop-ups can be used to increase awareness and raise funds for important organizations.  

“We go to trendy restaurants, national parks, or museums with fun exhibits to take these glossy pictures for our Instagram; we, consciously or not, skim through these experiences as we are so concerned with getting the right photos and not taking in the moment,” Rygiel said.

While the pop-up trend likely isn’t going anywhere, the culture around them can be changed. The constant flow of content the events create will always cause them to be “insta-worthy.” By embracing the culture of pop-ups, the attitude can shift to make experiences more enjoyable and involved.