Branded events have to be both a place where attendees go to remove themselves from their social media universe to have an authentic, in-person, once-in-a-lifetime experience while still getting viral media attention. Sounds impossible, but if anyone can handle such a paradox, it's an experiential marketer. These event planning ninjas can create a world so enrapturing, attendees only raise their phones to their faces at the exact right moment.
Having an authentic event and being able to share moments and photos online don't have to be mutually exclusive. The best brand experiences foster a world in which attendees are so engaged they are not thinking about their social media feeds until they are immersed in an experience that reminds them to do so. We no longer live in an age where event planners have to wait until the night has ended and the confetti has been swept to hear what attendees thought. Instead, they're posting as they're experiencing -- and sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly.
With the knowledge that event attendees are going to share with or without your brand's participation, make sure you are monitoring social media and not only joining the digital conversation, but guiding it. Here are three ways you can connect offline experiences with online engagement at your next brand event:
1. Live stream
Popular HGTV-lebrities, Drew and Jonothan Scott, interview country music star, Frankie Ballard, on Facebook Live before his acoustic performance on the HGTV Lodge stage at CMA Fest 2016
With Facebook Live and Instagram Stories– it could not be easier. Live streaming your event will mean you are reaching more people potentially across the world, and if you pick great clips or talks to share, then it will help build up interest for your next event. To stream successfully, be sure to...
- Film with a strong and secure wifi connection: This minimizes the risks of degrading the live stream (and high-quality live videos have the greatest chance of gaining viewership and followers)
- Interact with viewers: Going live should be a two-way street allowing for input and output. This interactivity makes users and viewers feel a sense of community and shared interest. Answer questions from the comments and call out viewers by name
- Plan with focus: Videos of people with no description spewing an incoherent stream of consciousness have the potential to get boring pretty quickly. Most Live videos aren’t scripted, but users that are able to attract many viewers have a specific focus for the content of the video.
2. Hire influencers to post (everyone else is)
There's no shame in hiring influencers to attend your events anymore. In 2018, everyone is doing it (but no one is talking about it). Micro-influencers especially, are a cost effective and successful way to tap into the niche audience of your event's attendees. Sprinkled throughout the crowd, they give your event a feeling of sophistication and exclusivity, but, based on their rising star, are still ready, willing, and able to mingle among the crowd effortlessly.
These social media celebrities have built their brands on a personalized strategy and vision. Whether they define themselves as fashionista, a foodie, a fitness guru, or a travel expert, they have a clearly-defined image and brand messaging that you can align with your activation. Authenticity is the most important factor when choosing which micro-influencers to work with. If they're presence makes no sense other than the fact that they're being compensated for their time, don't include them.
Don't see this as paying someone to attend your event, but more as a marketing cost that will drive awareness and engagement in an authentic way. During your event, it's easy to keep your attendees engaged. Since you already know you've brought your ideal crowd, the micro-influencers should be immersed in the activities happening in your venue.
3. Change the way you promote the hashtag
Onsite, make sure your hashtag is visible, so your guests know to use it. Include it in handouts and display it on screens throughout your venue. Better yet? Incentivize attendees to use your hashtag and share your event their own social profiles. This includes setting up a photo booth branded with your hashtag, creating a photo competition where the best photo using your hashtag wins a prize, or, like we did at VidCon's #CupcakeChallenge, give away branded swag in exchange for a hashtag post.
Consider displaying user-generated content — whether they’re tweets, photos, or videos — that use your hashtag onsite. This rewards your social sharers and encourages more attendees to post. You can even take this content and share it on your other social accounts to engage with people who couldn’t make it to your event.
Love these event ideas as much as we do?