How brands can take experiential marketing to the next level using social media

In our customer-centric world, what consumers really want is communication and engagement that dazzles their senses, touches their hearts and stimulates their minds.  They want added value and campaigns that deliver entertainment and experiences. Brands which can achieve this are on track for success; and even more so for brands that generate campaigns that create emotional connections and fuel conversations through creative, immersive and impressive experiences. They will bring their brands to life. But those who incorporate social media as a cornerstone of the campaign will see real shits and will strike up even more personalised relationships with customers.

Social Media Intensifies Reach and Intensity

The power of social media allows brands to begin conversations long before there’s a live engagement, and continue that conversation for a long time thereafter. That’s because social media has completely changed how consumers experience brands – and indeed the world. Before social media enjoyed the status it has today; a global study conducted by Jack Morton Worldwide indicated that each person who interacted with an experiential campaign shared their experience with an average of 17 people.  Now add social media to your activation and imagine the exponential increase in possibilities; reach and intensity of sharing is amplified and it’s immediate and authentic. And that’s why quite simply social media is turbocharging experiential marketing.

With this as the backdrop, and recognising we live in an era of multi-channel connectivity, marketers can’t neglect social media when planning activations and experiential marketing campaigns. When the power of social media and real-world experiences are combined, they can generate attention for a brand on a far larger stage. Bear in mind that activations allow customers to connect with a brand in a very intimate way. When applied successfully, the experience stimulates multiple senses and emotions that make the interaction memorable. Ultimately, when people have a memorable experience they naturally want to tell others – today this is achieved first and foremost through social media channels. Activation thus ties real world engagement to the digital arena.

Structure Activations Around Social Media Sharing

According to the 2016 EventTrack research, 98% of consumers create or capture content at events and experiences and 100% go on to share it. Even if it’s just a single photo on their mobile device – there is an opportunity for brands to more effectively leverage this content and sharing activity.  Facebook, followed by Instagram and Twitter are most used by consumers to post and share event content; YouTube and Snapchat round up the list for the top five platforms. There are varying outlooks on how best to encourage consumers to capture, create and share content at events, but widely held opinion is that it’s using exclusive experiences, photo walls and giveaways. The best way for marketers to decide this though, is to know their audience and to structure their activations in ways that encourage participants to share their experience on social media. This can be achieved, for example, by:

  • Creating campaign hashtags
  • Installing a branded photo wall – with or without props – for photo opps (with or without celebrities)
  • Offering product samples in exchange for social shares
  • Holding a contest for the best photo / comment / video or most-shared update
  • Linking sharing to big draw competitions

Social Chatter vs Social Listening

Simple tactics like these can generate a lot of social chatter and digital noise – even for low budget local events. The best part is that long after the initial activation is over – when consumers look back at their branded event content – there is a positive association with the brand which is believed to influence purchasing choices. The content generated from these activations can also be repurposed by brands and used for campaigns in the future. Engaging with consumers in this manner also allows brands the opportunity to capture key data on their target audiences. Content sharing metrics are highly measurable and provide considerable customer insights.  Not to be forgotten – is the value of social listening and it’s important to pay attention to the feedback consumers share at these activations so that future promotions can be improved.

The power of live events continues to generate better, deeper relationships between brands and consumers. Brands that use and incorporate social media into their events and promotions – in authentic and meaningful ways – can expect better connections and a bright future – because as the research has established, quality event content has a long shelf life.

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