Branding is only as effective as its ability to leverage the marketing channels available to it. And because marketing channels change (witness the rise of the search engine, email, and social media marketing), so does the way marketers brand their companies, products, services, and events. Here we will discuss the relevance of social media strategies in event branding today.
THE END OF A MARKETING AGE
Branding as a means of influencing the way customers feel about a business isn’t a new idea—in fact, it’s at least a century old. But branding came into its own with the rise of radio and television in the middle of the 20th century. Leveraging the omnipresence of mass media, marketers could now use these new technologies to sell their products. They used techniques like storytelling, memorable characters (think Tony the Tiger and the Frito Bandito), celebrity influencers and catchy tunes.
That approach worked well for decades, in large part because there was virtually no competition. Then came the internet, and all that changed. Now, social media strategies are as important as ever.
THE ADVENT OF THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA
It would be challenging in the age of marketing hyperbole to find any remaining understatements—with one notable exception: the internet changed everything. It changed the way people communicate and form communities. And it also changed the atmosphere marketing and branding, particularly event branding.
As Harvard Business Review (HBR) rightly notes, the internet meant mass media now needed to compete with marketing channels that let consumers opt-out of traditional ads. While that made it more difficult for brands to “buy fame,” it also opened new opportunities to influence niche communities of like-minded individuals (what HBR calls “crowdcultures”):
“Social media binds together communities that once were geographically isolated, greatly increasing the pace and intensity of collaboration. Now that these once-remote communities are densely networked, their cultural influence has become direct and substantial. These new crowdcultures come in two flavors: subcultures, which incubate new ideologies and practices, and art worlds, which break new ground in entertainment.”
WHAT ARE THE BEST SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIES IN EVENT BRANDING?
Effective branding—whether for an event or anything else—means leveraging best practice strategies. This includes everything from developing buyer personas to crafting an identity and characteristic voice to blogging. Arguably, however, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat are among the best ways to brand your event. This is because because they have the ability to create social communities. By creating social media strategies that utilize these platforms, your business will have greater influence.
That, of course, begs the question of what those “best practice strategies” are. Although every business—and every event—is different, with different goals and marketing challenges, the lion’s share will achieve success with community-building and engagement strategies. There are many ways to leverage social media, including the following 4 social media strategies:
1. CREATE AN EVENT PAGE ON FACEBOOK
Facebook boasts 2.4 billion active monthly users, and (according to HubSpot) almost 75% of those users visit the site for “professional purposes.” With a massive audience most of whom go to the social media giant (at least in part) looking for products and services—not to mention a wealth of marketing tools to help businesses achieve their objectives, Facebook is rife with opportunities to brand your event.
One of those marketing tools enables marketers to create private and public event pages. Users enter the event’s name, date, time and location—and can also enter keywords to target likely attendees. There are also useful instructions for issuing invitations, adding organizers and targeting specific communities. More to the point, Facebook event pages help polish your brand with branded event descriptions and photos.
2. GET CROSS CHANNEL TRACTION WITH A HASHTAG
A branded hashtag is one of the best ways to extend the reach of your brand across multiple social media platforms. Said differently, one hashtag will enable the target audience for your event to find all your social media branded content.
The trick is to create a hashtag that aligns with your brand, is easy to remember, short, easy to spell (and say) and compelling. In other words, you want your hashtag to stand out from other social media background noise. You want it to grab people’s attention, be memorable, and make them want to know more about your event. In addition, it’s important that your hashtag doesn’t simply “rehash” what’s already out there. Make it unique, timely, and fresh. Finally, be sure to incorporate your hashtag into all your event marketing materials—both digital and print.
3. GIVE PROSPECTIVE ATTENDEES A TEASE
There’s a reason feature films produce trailers—they show people just enough to make them want to see more. You can do the same by posting short videos of featured speakers and descriptions of key sessions. Or, if yours is a live event, provide a sneak peek of your performers doing their thing on multiple platforms.
Another effective strategy is to post short, intriguing interviews with both speakers and participants using Instagram Stories, a sort of “red carpet” treatment of your event. Be sure to create more video than you need, then choose the best moments and edit them into fast-paced series of snippets that answer prospective attendees’ top of mind questions about your event—and of course inspire them to attend.
Once again, the important thing is to use your “tease” content to reinforce the central elements of your brand. Be sure to include key brand elements (like logos and taglines) as well as a concise reminder of your company’s values and vision—the reason, in other words, your business does what it does.
4. SPONSOR A CONTEST
People like contests and they’re among the most effective of event branding strategies. The utility of contests is in their ability to boost event awareness, interest, and participation. Using your hashtag, post content about your contest and ask followers to share it. Assuming what you’re giving away has enough value, you can dramatically extend the reach of your message. You can also gain new followers and of course, increase attendance at your event.
Remember that your contest (in fact, your event) is designed to extend the reach of your brand. Make sure what your offer and the way you offer it are consistent with brand guidelines. For example, if yours is a tech company whose mission is to make consumers’ lives simpler, you could give away one of your most popular products or subscription services—one in other words that best does what your brand is all about.
Let’s face it: being a brand manager isn’t easy. The daily challenges you face—everything from hitting targets to meeting deadlines, achieving exceptional results and staying 2 steps ahead of the competition—if anything seems to be getting harder every day.
Leveraging the power of social media platforms (whether to increase event attendance or for any other purpose) is arguably among the most effective strategies to meet your key performance objectives, but of course, it’s not the only one. And juggling them all will at times seem daunting. That’s where we can help.
To learn more about the ways we can help you plan events that are memorable, measurable and profitable—and help you use those events to take your brand and your business to the next level—book a consultation with us today.