Experiential & Digital Marketing: the perfect synergy for brands

Like sneakers without shoelaces, you can create a solid experiential marketing event without social media and digital marketing, you just won’t get as far or be as successful.

Marketers have limited time to catch a consumer’s eye in this digital world. Experiential marketing events are a fantastic way to not only catch consumers’ attention, but it’s also more likely they will actually remember the moment and the brand after the engagement.  

Specifically, we want to dive deeper into why social media marketing should be woven into your experiential marketing plan and goals.

The New York Times reported findings from a study where they determined the primary reasons why people shared a story online. The main reasons were to bring valuable and entertaining content to one another, to define themselves to others, to grow and nourish relationships, for self-fulfillment to feel more involved in the world, and to get the word out on causes they care about. (Source)

This ideology can certainly be applied to the question “why do users like to post on their social media accounts?” and eventually “how do we incorporate social media marketing into our experiential marketing event?”

So, when does social media come into the fold when planning your experiential marketing activation?

Marketers typically think to engage consumers before the event. You have to promote it and get the word out so people will show up! Did you know that anticipation is actually a more powerful emotion than recalling a memory? Before your experiential marketing event, make sure you have a plan in place for pre-promotion across all necessary channels to get your target audience as excited as possible. (Source)

Experiential marketers should be engaging consumers during the event as well. Make it easy for them. How? For example,

  • Embrace “do it for the gram.” Have you heard the pop culture expression?  If not, it essentially embodies the act of a consumer seeking out a particular activation, location, pop up art, or other experience specifically to take a photo for their instagram account (which of course extends to other forms of social media as well). For example, the Elan Cafe in London is drawing crowds. Sure, they have delicious coffee and pastries, but people are mostly flocking for the instagrammable pink decor. (see below)
  • Create a geofenced snapchat filter for your event so consumers can engage with it when they send snapchats to their friends while at your site.  
  • Design creative brand and event specific hashtags and make sure they are visible and encouraged for usage during the event.  

Elan Cafe Pink London

Consider a post-event digital campaign as well.

  • Create your own branded content! Invest in a camera crew to capture the excitement and guests’ experience at your activation. This content is fantastic for showcasing authentic reactions to the brand experience you have created and can be used online, on TV, etc.
  • Ask people to share their photos and stories with you. Perhaps offer a reward or incentive, such as advanced knowledge of future events, swag, etc. Curate this content for future event promotion or for your website and other platforms.

What’s the deal with social media influencers and events?

If you haven’t seen the Hulu or Netflix special on the famously failed Fyre festival (say that five times fast), build in some time this week for an entertaining explanation of an event gone terribly wrong. (We wouldn’t be caught dead in that kind of situation!) They used the world’s biggest social media influencers and models to hype their festival online and executed a promo video for the event. It worked in that it got people excited and wanting to buy the tickets. However, when it turned out the whole festival was a disaster and mostly a sham, the brand’s authenticity was questioned (legally and otherwise), as well as the authenticity of the influencers themselves.

Consider who it would make sense to partner with for your brand and event to garner the most authentic connection and content. “Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to an influencer partnership. Making the right partnerships on social media is more important than making the big partnerships. Authenticity leads to virality.” (Source)

Know your platforms

Who is your target audience? Once you know the answer to that question, you can decide which social media platform(s) make the most sense for your campaign.

  • Facebook live is an awesome option for real time engagement with your consumers during the event for people that cannot be there.
  • Make sure to enlist Twitter trending hashtags and video and photo sharing online.
  • Engage consumers and influencers on Instagram. Instagram is also great for live video, hashtag connections and beautiful and enviable photo content.

Incorporate these tips for social media and digital content into your next experiential marketing event, and it’s sure to be an authentic, buzz-worthy experience consumers will remember for a long time.

clubgoers taking selfie shutterstock