How to couple event experiences and social media to drive engagement

Event and social media marketing both focus on consumer engagement, facilitate instant dialogue between a brand and its consumers, and give consumers the opportunity to respond and ask questions directly to the brand. That’s why these highly targeted marketing strategies work well together.

“Social is an important complement to support and strengthen a well-executed experiential campaign,” says Drew McCartt, senior vice president at Event Marketing Strategies. “When incorporated successfully, social can take face-to-face interactions and amplify their reach and consumer engagement in the digital space.”

Smart Business spoke with McCartt about how to successfully incorporate social media into event marketing.

What is engagement and why is it important to attain?

Engagement is the process of direct interaction — garnering the time and attention of consumers in fun, creative, meaningful and memorable ways in order to meet specific brand awareness, messaging and/or sales goals. Engagement often initiates or strengthens the relationship between a consumer and a brand. It gives a brand a voice, making it more personable and approachable, thus inspiring consumers to take action.

How can social media complement event marketing and be used effectively?

Social media supports event and experiential campaigns by continuing the conversation beyond the physical experience, ultimately maximizing the reach and results. According to a 2016 report from Event Marketer, an experiential industry expert publication, nearly 80 percent of effective event marketing campaigns integrate social tactics.

To do this effectively, a brand should have a comprehensive social strategy that leads up to an experience to create buzz, encourage participation during the event to increase awareness and engagement, and expand the reach of messaging and impact after.

What are some social media strategies that can be integrated into an experience?

For increased consumer participation, incorporate exciting imagery and customized or trending hashtags relevant to the campaign. Adding incentives such as contests, polls and register-to-win opportunities allow consumers to engage and respond.

On-site, brands can incorporate social by providing photo opportunities and augmented or virtual reality experiences that can be shared immediately through social. Periscope and Facebook Live are also ways to bring the experience to consumers unable to be on-site.

Post-event, releasing photos through social media channels and/or uploading videos of the experience to YouTube, Facebook and even Instagram will help the campaign live longer than the event itself.

What are some best practices that can be used to drive engagement?

The goals of the social content must align with the goals of the experiential program. While multiple platforms may be incorporated, it’s important that the social channels used reach the desired target audience of the campaign. Additionally, because experiential marketing occurs within a limited time frame and involves many components, it’s important that the social media strategy be easy to understand and execute on-site, both for the brand team and consumers.

Another key component is to ensure that the brand also replies through reposting and/or responding to consumer-generated content for a two-way conversation.

Finally, the campaign must encourage consumers to share their experiences by providing incentives such as premium items, a register-to-win or contest opportunities for prizes, even a chance to achieve their ‘15 minutes of fame’ in a commercial or digital spot.

Ultimately, whatever the experience, it must be targeted appropriately to attract the right audience, viral and buzz-worthy enough to motivate participants to want to share photos or videos to their network, and memorable enough so that consumers continue talking about it long after.

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