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Updated 29 Sep 2020

Unforgettable activations can live on long after the event comes to a close

The power of live events continues to generate better, deeper relationships between brands and consumers. 

Lauren Durant, 29 July 2017  Share  0 comments  Print

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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 research has repeatedly established, quality event content has a long shelf life.

More than that - with the evolution of content and consumer touch points – marketers have the ability and opportunity to extend an experiential campaign well beyond the event itself. Thanks to social media, it’s possible for events to become the very foundation of entire campaigns – and the glue that keeps it together – rather than acting as a standalone marketing tactic.

Related: Bring your brand to life by creating memorable encounters

People want experiences

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 that 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 is turbocharging experiential 

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 standing 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. 

Get consumers to capture, create and share

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. 

Related: Shopping sprees or savings: How global consumers are spending

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 opportunities (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. 

Create positive brand memories

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.  

There is an increased reliance on immersive experiences to build brand trust and loyalty and crafting campaigns that include significant experiences will produce considerable results if well executed.

Consumers want relatable moments; experiences that create shareable content and marketers should not be afraid to experiment with content in ways that will build meaningful connections with their audiences. As much as trends keep shifting – experiential marketing has earned its position as a trusted marketing methodology that delivers tangible change and this is not something that will change any time soon. 

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About the author

Lauren Durant

Durant spends much of her time with clients, understanding their needs and assisting in the development of cutting edge activations strategies. Parallel to this, she mentors members of the Isilumko team to be able to do the same – which makes sense in an organisation so customer centric.

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