10 Ways Social Can Expand Your Experiential Marketing Beyond the Event

Experiential marketing helps brands interact in person with existing customers while meeting potential new buyers

The event itself is just one part of the marketing process pepifoto/iStock

If you run a business, social media is likely already a part of your marketing strategy. In recent years, you may also have embraced experiential marketing, as you’ve realized the impact that in-person events and other programming can have on building brand awareness.

According to Brett Hyman, president of NVE Experience Agency, “The right moment will transform someone forever. An event is an extremely potent marketing vehicle for a brand to connect deeply with a consumer on a cognitive level. Moreover, new technologies and social tools are supercharging the ability for consumers to amplify their experiences to exponentially larger audiences. An event that engages 500 attendees can easily be amplified to 500,000 people or even more.”

As experiential begins to play a larger part in marketing, though, business leaders are struggling to find ways to make the most of each event they host. Competitive brands know that a hybrid approach can be most effective. It isn’t enough to deploy a campaign that focuses solely on social media, events or email messaging. Instead, it’s important to adopt a multichannel approach to marketing that gets results.

Here are 10 ways that your business can blend social media and experiential marketing to yield even more success beyond the event.

  1. Generate event buzz: Social media is the perfect place to get attendees excited well in advance of an event. Make any official announcements on various social media pages and ask employees and supporters to share. Tag anyone who will be presenting or speaking at the event. Work with those people on promotion so you can broaden your reach to all their followers.
  2. Build data about attendees: As customers sign up for the experience, make sure you collect their social media usernames and research them in advance. While they’re participating in the tour, class, event or other experience you’re offering, an experience-relationship-management platform like AnyRoad can help by gathering data throughout and organizing it into demographic, geographic and other segments. You can rely on this information long after the event as you seek ways to personalize follow-up with attendees and understand how the experience impacted their brand perception. Connect these data points directly to your customer-relationship-management system to continue that relationship.
  3. Create a hashtag: Well in advance of your event, come up with a hashtag that attendees can use to ensure that their posts reach the right online audience. If you plan to hold this event on a regular basis, try to use the same (or a similar) hashtag each time, adding a designation such as the year or the anniversary number to set it apart from past posts. Promote this hashtag on all your materials, including your conference registration page and any print materials on hand at the event.
  4. Incentivize posting: Customers are much more likely to spread the word about your upcoming event if they have an incentive for sharing. Ifeelgoods helps you track brand mentions and issue rewards as a result. You can also offer a door prize or gift certificate that you hand out at the event to a person who uses the designated hashtag.
  5. Share posts: Increase your reach before, during and after your event by sharing any posts you find online. Use a social listening service like Mention to ensure you’re notified every time your business name appears on any social media site. Simply seeing that you’re sharing their posts can be enough to engage some event attendees, especially if they’re impressed with their one-on-one experience with your brand.
  6. Interact: Once sign-ups begin, it’s imperative that you remain active in the conversation. Pay close attention to the hashtag for your event and regularly add posts of your own. Share and reply to posts as often as possible to develop a relationship with others who are excited about your event. Keep in mind that during the event, you’ll likely be too busy to remain active on social media. If possible, assign a trusted volunteer or employee to post, share and comment on your behalf.
  7. Follow participants: You’ll be more effective in building online relationships if you follow others on social media. Each time you have an interesting conversation with a customer or colleague, find the person online and interact. Use a tool like Crowdfire to make it easier to manage followers while also driving more traffic to your content. With the right solutions in place, you’ll be able to use social media to boost customer loyalty and network within your industry.
  8. Share useful content: Once you’ve built a strong online follower base, it’s important to regularly offer content that your audience finds useful. It’s been found to be a highly overlooked cost that most businesses don’t think about. If you only promote your products, services or events online, your followers may feel as though you’re spamming them. Instead, regularly conduct searches for interesting content, sharing it with the proper hashtags. The goal is to be a thought leader in your space. You not only want to entertain those who are following you, but also impress social media users whose content you’re sharing.
  9. Monitor results: One of the keys to social media success is putting a marketing strategy in place and constantly tweaking it. To make sure this is a fully informed strategy, you should monitor the performance of your posts to determine which activities are working best. This will help you home in on those techniques and avoid wasting time on efforts that don’t work. As a result, you’ll create a social media presence that encourages loyalty and boosts your experiential marketing efforts.
  10. Promote future events: Whether you’re promoting a tour of some kind, a series of educational meetups or a one-time music performance, your online presence should grow over time. Use a variety of approaches to plug upcoming events. Post images from last year’s event, videos that showcase behind-the-scenes preparations and interviews with those involved in hosting or presenting, and share other people’s posts expressing their excitement. By generating multiple forms of content, you’ll avoid making your followers feel as though you’re simply sharing the same “attend our event” message over and over.

Experiential marketing helps brands interact in person with existing customers while meeting potential new buyers. By previewing and following up each of your events with social media interactions, you can create lasting relationships with your customers and prospects. Over time, your events can attract larger audiences, who will share their experiences on social media, helping your brand grow even more.

@MaryCLong maryclong@digitalmediaghost.com Mary C. Long is Chief Ghost at Digital Media Ghost. She writes about everything online and is published widely, with a focus on privacy concerns, specifically social sabotage.