Thanks to the combined rise of tech and our desire for human interactions, we’re choosing experiences that enable us to simultaneously exist in our real and virtual worlds more than ever.
As a case in point: Look no further than the relationship between social media and brand experience. It’s no longer a one-way street where events rely on social for their amplification; these two forms of marketing are engaged in a symbiotic relationship.
Social can be employed to create multiple brand stories calibrated for the behaviors and expectations of each platform while also showcasing the event experience to a much wider audience in real-time.
There are few things more powerful than a third-party endorsement, and social media empowers consumers to become citizen journalists. Every attendee is now a brand storyteller and advocate as they curate their personalized event highlights and weave them into a unique narrative for those tuning in from afar.
It’s a fresh paradigm where brand experience drives social. While the influence of social media can’t be underestimated, without some sort of live element attached to it, social media would be practically irrelevant. We’ll often see a spike in usage and engagement around a particular event followed by dormant periods.
Take an event like Coachella. Festival-goers love sharing their experiences with fellow revelers, as well as bragging about the fact that they’re attending the event to those who aren’t there. Live events feed our desire to connect with other people in the flesh, and they fuel the most valuable thing that social media has to offer: social currency.
Here are five actionable strategies and tactics you can adopt to extract value from both brand experience and social media.
Devise a year-long social strategy
Don’t let your event fall off the radar once it’s ended. Continue the conversation throughout the year. Consider creating a monthly countdown campaign where additional event details are revealed; hosting short, snappy Q&As with your talent and incorporating a series of teasers about the event; securing influential partners to share updates about the event across their own channels; hosting competitions such as ticket giveaways or talent meet and greets; or sharing event galleries and hype reels pre-, during and post-event.
Content is still king
With the social media space more crowded than ever, a large chunk of your organic posts are no longer seen by your followers, let alone those outside of your network. Incorporate branded content campaigns into your annual strategy from the very beginning and engage in A/B testing to uncover which types of content engage your audiences the most.
It could be an image gallery of last year’s event posted to Facebook or a special ticket offer that is shared via LinkedIn’s InMail functionality. That way, as the event draws closer, you’ll have a firm-branded content strategy in place which will raise awareness of the upcoming experience and extend its virtual reach as it unravels in real time.
Mine the data
Designing an experience without reflecting on your past and current events and the social content that is produced around them is risky. Predictive analytics like data mining and branches of AI like machine learning allows us to extract information from existing event and social data to identify key behavior patterns, from the most popular performances to the top rated food stations, so we can create smarter, more personalized online and offline experiences moving forward.
Embrace your biggest internal assets
Some of your best brand advocates are your employees, so encourage them to engage with your event content and produce their own posts pre-, during and post-event. Chances are that their networks include many members of your target audience. Internal communications are an effective way to keep employees in the loop, whether it’s via your intranet, email or during meetings. Make life easier for them by drafting suggested social copy and providing visuals and information about ideal times to post so they can simply copy and paste the content to their own platforms.
Design for sharing
People want to share as much of an event as possible. It equates to social currency, an important modern-day status symbol. It’s vital these features challenge the status quo, or they won’t be deemed worthy enough to be shared. Aim to find a balance between incorporating awe-inspiring elements, such as immersive tech, cutting-edge AV and photo-worthy installations, while also ensuring they serve a purpose and complement, rather than detract from, the brand story you’re trying to tell.