The massive stainless steel sculpture in Millennium Park may be called Cloud Gate, but everyone knows it as The Bean. It's a Chicago landmark and a beacon for tourists and locals alike. And now The Bean is starring in its own social media campaign.
In an effort to "tell the story of the landmark through public social media posts," Chicago-based digital marketing firm Walker Sands Digital - part of Walker Sands Communications - has launched Seen @ The Bean, a site that curates Bean selfies to deliver an always-evolving representation of how visitors interact with the famed work of art. Photos are primarily sourced from Instagram and Twitter and social media users are invited to include the custom #seenatthebean hashtag, but Walker Sands digs deep to find Bean images wherever, and however, they occur online. The result is a dynamic tapestry of visual posts and tweets that offers a new way of looking at an iconic city attraction.
The idea for Seen @ The Bean, which launched in mid-July, came from a weekly brainstorming meeting and a conversation about the efficacy of existing Chicago tourism sites. "We agreed they often miss one key element," says Kim Lucio, interactive marketing manager with Walker Sands Digital, "a narrative. The visitor's experience at a Web site is just as crucial as at the landmark itself. Seen @ the Bean fills a needed gap by providing information like location and history, while allowing the visitor to become a part of that history themselves."
In addition to selfies, the site's main attraction, Seen @ The Bean includes information about Cloud Gate and artist Anish Kapoor, a featured photograph, and a map. It's that narrative, however, people will enjoy most. The site's images are an exercise in modern storytelling, writing a real-time chronicle of our culture and zeitgeist. One can flip through the photos and understand the city anew, a treat for residents and visitors alike.
The next time you're down at The Bean, be sure to post a selfie to your social media platform of choice. Your picture could become a part of its new digital history.