Social networking has truly changed the way people communicate with each other. From a marketing perspective, there is much discussion about measuring the impact of social networking so marketers can understand how to monetize the many social media platforms available. At the end of the day, its about the understanding of relationships: relationships between people, relationships between brands and their audiences and relationships between social media and other marketing vehicles.
There is an inherent relationship between social media and event marketing. Both are engagement platforms which encourage people to interact with one another, and allow brands to participate in a conversation with their audiences.
Events are the original social media platform. They provide a forum for people to engage with one another to share ideas, create and participate in experiences and build relationships. True, social networking is pervasive, and many of the activities that normally take place face-to-face can be digitally mimicked, but no other marketing platform is more effective than events in accelerating the speed of the sales cycle, increasing account value or building long-term relationships.
All said, social networking plays an important role in event marketing. Here are five ways social media amplifies event experiences.
1. Engagement: Social networking allows brands to engage their audiences online, through mobile devices and through face-to-face experiences. This is a powerful model that allows for deeper and richer conversations which drive real relationships.
2. Interaction: Social media platforms and event marketing alike allow for one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many communications which can be synchronous or asynchronous. This creates communities based on the sharing of experiences and information for audiences and brands alike
3. Enhancement: In a word, participation. Audiences can become part of the experience by creating user generated content that can be used before, during or after the event. Brands can participate in user-driven content and adjust their message real-time to drive relevance throughout the community.
4. Internalization: If you want to learn, teach. Through the broadcast and rebroadcast of ideas and sharing of experiences, audiences internalize content which deepens understanding, and creates an intellectual bond between people and information.
5. Extension: Events take place at a singular point in time within a limited proximity. Social media platforms provide a forum to build excitement and generate audiences before and event, and extend the conversation through the sharing of content, ideas and experiences after the event. The scope is also extended well beyond the exhibit hall to anyone with a computer or mobile device anywhere around the world.
When faced with the decision of whether or not to participate in social networking as part of your event marketing program, the answer is easy. The greater challenge comes with determining the right strategy, and selecting the right tactics to meet that strategy. Establish objectives first, and build a well-researched plan of attack before participating in the great social experiment. Over time, you’ll learn what works, what doesn’t and what’s right for your brand.