In this day and age no marketer can escape social media as a communications tool: Stationary producer BIC recently joined the ranks of brands like HSBC and Mars, learning the hard way how powerful social media can be in forming a brand perception when consumers took online to publicly criticize the brand’s newly launched “BIC for her” – a pen especially designed for women.
However, allowing consumers to interact with brands and form long-term connections doesn’t only make social networking sites an equally rewarding as well as daunting prospect, but also an ideal amplification channel for experiential marketing campaigns, which offer brands these same opportunities on a face-to-face level.
The integration of social media with experiential marketing campaigns is highly beneficial to any brand: By allowing social media users to share their experiences with their friends, followers and connections, the reach and life span of any experiential campaign can be increased indefinitely. Opportunities to integrate social media into experiential marketing campaigns are vast and varied, allowing brands to appeal to a wide audience of social media users.
Here are a few ways in which to go about it:
- Announcing the experiential event or tour dates of an experiential road-show on the brand’s profiles across social networking sites – appealing mostly to an “existing brand-fan”.
- Letting people check-in at the experiential activity via Facebook – appealing mostly to a “social media exhibitionist” (users that don’t mind sharing with others where they are and what they do).
- Producing a viral that allows people to share the event over and over afterwards. The more impressive, fun or touching the viral, the greater the chances for it being reposted (consider this when formulating your budgets). An example of an impactful viral for relatively low key experiential campaign is the following viral done by Halo Media, with whom we worked on this paint-by-numbers experiential campaign for Essex Council: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZRInTQT_HA
- Competitions or incentives to encourage the sharing and liking of the experiential activity on social networking sites – appealing to both opinion leaders (those announcing what they’ve done online) and opinion followers (those mainly sharing and liking other users’ posts and pictures).
- Hosting a live feed of your road-show or experiential campaign while it is in progress – appealing to those that use social media primarily for information gathering and news. A good example for a live feed of an international road-show was a blog diary that our promo staff updated daily while being on the road during an experiential campaign on special Promo Scooters for client SANYO. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nooED0JfhGg&list=UUrifJns_KwXfkyEAwq9kZug&index=18&feature=plcp)
- Using a MyMirror type function, that allows participants to take photos of themselves at the event and instantly upload them to their twitter account or Facebook profile, readily marked with the brand logo – presumably appealing mostly to very vain people that like great photos of themselves (guess that would be all of us then?).
Social media integration can be taken even further to the point where user generated content and live online user participation directly influence the experiential marketing activity on the ground.
Cadbury did this successfully in Ireland earlier this year: encouraging the public in an innovative through-the-line execution to participate in their experiential campaign, Cadbury asked users to tweet #tweet2goo or enter via a designated Facebook App. Every day for one week a giant “Runny Egg” travelling a different location to garner public support “egg-sploded” live (on and off air). Every Tweet and Facebook entry received helped build the egg-citement until the eggs “gooed”. The fun was garnished with a nice incentive: Everyone who tweeted or participated via Facebook was automatically entered into a draw to win Olympic tickets: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrL5JDUGuGE&feature=plcp
And every day brands and experiential providers come up with newer, smarter and better ideas how to integrate social media platforms into experiential marketing campaigns. Social media platforms have given us ample opportunities to magnify our experiential marketing efforts – the worst experiential marketers can do is to ignore them.
Written by Miriam Kuhn, Marketing Manager