Online success has become dependent on offline viability. Unless your brand is creating memorable experiences, both large and small, your online strategy will not be reaching its full potential.
When developing visceral, brand-driven customer experiences, it’s important to consider that an “event” is defined by every time your brand interacts with a user. Whether it is a 5,000-person concert or an email being received in an inbox, there is an opportunity to make real what your brand says that it is, and, more importantly, an opportunity to further develop a relationship with that customer/end-user.
LivingSocial is one example of an online brand that works hard to create that memorable user experience with their “Deluxe Gift Envelopes.” Upon receiving these vouchers, the user is doesn’t just receive a coupon, they’re gifted with an elegantly designed package made of high-quality materials. There is an emphasis put on the medium, not just the message, enhancing the brand impression of what ever company sponsored the voucher and LivingSocial, itself.
In a 2004 TED Talk, Joseph Pine touches on this wonderfully, saying:
What that means is that it’s time to move to a new level of economic value. Time to go beyond the goods and services, and use, in that same heuristic, what happens when you customize a service? What happens when you design a service that is so appropriate for a particular person – that’s exactly what they need at this moment in time? Then you can’t help but make them go, “Wow!” You can’t help but turn it into a memorable event – you can’t help but turn it into an experience.
Creating that moment, that event, that experience is a major coup for a brand. The next level is attending to every detail so that that experience carries a look and feel that is consistent with the brand’s online presence – digital, social, and the like. Creating this all-important sync well create more value for the effort exerted in the aforementioned LivingSocial print piece or a large-scale, multi-thousand person event.
A few notes on maximizing your event’s online visibility:
- Capture the event in motion. The only thing better than a picture “that’s worth a thousand words,” is a moving picture! Deploy a videographer, or even better, a documentarian, to produce a short film or series of shorts that capture the sites, sounds, and energy of the event. Make sure that you have model release forms on-hand to grab as many user testimonials as possible. Including these user-testimonials will increase the video’s viral potential because it increases the likelihood these users will share that video to their Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ feed.
- Don’t forget about the stills! Deploying branded photos from your event is an excellent way to get traction online after the event has wrapped. Equip your photographer with sleek business cards to hand out where users can later find their pictures, and absolutely make sure there are social plugins present for easy sharing functionality. A mass upload of a couple hundred photos will carry your brand name, your logo in the bottom corner of each, and a click-through link to the webpage of your choice, not to mention the additional Social SEO boost. (See this post for tips on optimizing your photos on Google+.)
- Become an ambassador of social media. I worked with StyleBistro at the Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week event in the Fall of 2010. The effort Mercedes-Benz put forth to not only encourage tweeting, but suggest @-follows and #-hashtags to get on-the-minute news of shows and parties was phenomenal. Now in 2012, social media is all the more potent, so use signage, leave-behinds, even cups and plates to encourage check-ins on Facebook, FourSquare, Instagram, and the like. Remember, too, to use your pre-event marketing to promote your social media platform.
- Create strategic “social” partnerships. If your organization is hosting a concert, you’ll surely have vendors supplying food, drinks, etc. Be ready with a social strategy so that each are promoting their presence at your event, concurrently promoting the event itself. In other words, take the lead. Social media, at its best, promotes and advances the interests of many. Use this collaborative attribute to drive the online advancement of your event.
“We’re shifting to an ‘experience’ economy, where experiences are becoming the predominant economic offering,” Pine explains. In this, it is absolutely essential we understand that marketing must be executed with a holistic understanding of the customer experience. Our events, then, must be detailed enough to take advantage of every opportunity that engagement begets, be it one-on-one or hosting thousands.
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