The perfect marriage between experiential marketing and digital amplification

 

“Draw me like one of your French girls…

…then draw it again, and again, new pose, add a little lighting, filter here, Facetune there, and then post.”

The perfect marriage between experiential marketing and digital amplification lies in an understanding of the psychology of social media sharing.

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Digital amplification of events and activations is achieved mainly in two manners – organic (earned) and paid (owned). Both will always have a place in the marketing mix, both work together and independently of each other. In modern marketing they are intrinsically linked. The latter utilises your marketing budget in a much more direct format; you identify audience, you create content, you deliver through relevant platform, and you count the cost matched to pre-identified KPIs (overly simplified obviously, but you get the idea). It’s an effective method of achieving high reach, fast, but in a world bursting at the seams with brand content all vying for consumer attention and time, peer-to-peer influence is more important than ever. This is where the organic amplification of your event or activation is crucial. Not only does it save cash for those rainy-day funds, it delivers credible reach to your audience and its wider network where the viewer or consumer is in a much more switched-on state of mind.

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Achieving high organic reach with a positive sentiment is the aim of any campaign, and there are countless methods which we attempt to achieve it, but the premise hasn’t changed much since the dawn of marketing; capture attention, deliver brand message, prompt consumer share, sell product or service. The tools at our disposal to implement our ‘attention marketing’ strategies have evolved at a sometimes frightening pace with digital and social media being the catalyst. Experiential marketing is not immune to these developments. It has never been a case of “if you build it, they will come” of magical Costner proportions, but an understanding of why people share things on their social media channels is paramount to success.

 
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Johan Berger’s “Contagious” perfectly sums up the reasons why anyone would shout about your activity; social currency, triggers, emotion, public idea, practical value and stories (STEPPS). For the amplification of your experiential marketing campaign we will simplify these into three categories;

  • Emotional response

  • Incentive

  • OTB (opportunity to brag)

When planning campaign activity, and especially in experiential marketing, the overriding emotions and thus motivation for social sharing are at the far ends of the spectrum; humour, joy, happiness, rage, sadness. You want the audience to feel something, something strong enough to prompt them to take their phones out of their pockets and snap, tag, post and share. Your build, activity and/or brand ambassadors need to be on point to make the consumers give you airtime on their available channels. You need to tell a story, an extremely interesting and engaging one, and give them an outlet to tell it for themselves.

 

Incentive will need to provide your audience with enough reward or possible reward to share what you want them to. We live in a world of constant gratification, if a competition or reward meets the standard where your audience interest peaks, then their propensity to share increases. Although often you’ll find the bigger the prize, the lower the entry rate – that head-scratching phenomenon of self-prescribed measure of luck; “I’d never be lucky enough to win that all expenses paid trip to Dubai, but a branded beanie hat? Sign me up!”

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And finally, the opportunity to brag (OTB). Social media is, by its own volition, inherently narcissistic. If it wasn’t there wouldn’t be any need for social platforms in their current form, we’d all be working off private messengers with no public sharing formats available. While privacy and data protection are hot topics at the moment, public sharing and content validation are the foundation of organic amplification. We’ve all sat through presentations where creating the “instagrammable moment” has been proposed – this activation style or prompt is firmly rooted in the OTB. You appeal to the consumer’s personal quest for those likes, comments and shares, by creating a something which enables them to achieve the validation they desire, whilst ensuring your brand message or identity carries through also. It’s a little more complex than outlined here, not everyone is a content-creating attention vampire, but in experiential marketing you must trigger their oft concealed narcissism; “Look at what I’m at, see what I’m doing, isn’t this great”

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The outcome, if you can achieve it, is an online conversation dominated by User Generated Content which marketers should effectively engage with, drawing the community into an open conversation. Corralling online audiences into a positive and recurring conversation is a skill that takes time, patience and a clear strategy. Creating an army of brand advocates, and reaping the benefits of such, is the end goal.

- GC

 
 
Gavin Coffey