Social sharing is unavoidable in 2017. It’s become one of the most effective strategies available to marketers who want to make an impact in the age of Instagram and internet celebrities. Restaurants are reinventing themselves, priming everything from cutlery to lighting for online sharing; retailers are utilising experiential methods to great effect, with Topshop’s recent Stranger Things line boosted by an in-store display of madness at the flagship Oxford Street outlet – it was primed for sharing.
Experiential is going through the same process, reimagining itself to remain relevant in this age of sharing.
Because social sharing can’t just be a bolt-on, an extra, much in the same way the music for an Audi A8 ad can’t be decided at the 11th hour by selecting a track at random. Social sharing must be considered as part of a holistic whole from the beginning, and your assets should reflect this.
As professional creatives paid to drive brand engagement, we should be implementing social sharing in the most meaningful way possible, thinking about how we can facilitate that action. When executed correctly and intrinsically tied to your experiential campaign, it gives it a whole new life, including assets that can live on well beyond the initiative’s finale.
For example, Game of Thrones’ White Walkers were unleashed across London to promote the then-upcoming seventh series. Seeing these beasts on the streets was a thrill. It was a sublime opportunity for social sharing and a fine method to further hype the show. More to the point, research claimed that 98 per cent of people are more inclined to purchase post-experiential brand experience.
The Game of Thrones initiative worked seamlessly on a gargantuan scale; while it looked effortless, you can be sure that was down to intense planning. When you encourage people to interact with your brand in an unconventional way, they’ll be less inclined to participate if the activity is completely incongruous with the brand. Likewise, it’s easy to spot when social-ready assets have just been bolted on, rather than been included as part of the project’s gestation. Think of every facet as inherently shareable and plan every detail around this goal, rather than just plucking a hashtag out of thin air. You need to go beyond that.
The crux of sharing via experiential is, for the most part, actually convincing people to engage. To cut through and interrupt someone’s daily routine, your brand has to become a facilitator, not a dictator. Don’t tell people what to do. Ask them to join in. Ask them to share in a way they find hard to resist. Take a lesson from Australia’s Darling Café, creators of the smoothie in a light bulb – possibly the coolest drink on Instagram.
Show your audience that by interacting, it’s positively affecting them. Don’t leave them hanging – give them a reason to engage. People love sharing with their friends, getting likes, interacting, and occasionally catapulting to Insta-fame for fifteen minutes. You can give them that.
You don’t have to command the biggest budget to achieve your goals. Sometimes a literal exchange can generate masses of sharing. A lot of brand-to-hand activity gets traction on social – our BelVita office drop was designed to catch people off guard, to give them something great that they just weren’t expecting.
Shareability was built into the core of the campaign, the boxes photogenic and branded – but not excessively so. It seems so simple, but we’d given them something, thus a reason to share that particular experience. It’s something that can be spread across dark social too – WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and the like are just as important as your main channels, even though they’re not measurable at this point.
People love sharing. It’s a basic human truth, and more often than not, people want to share experiences and new content with their friends, families and followers because they think it’s interesting or makes them look good. They won’t share just ‘because’.
Ultimately, shareability is imperative to your audience and you. If you get this element right, if you give people a reason to share this content and recommend it organically, then the actual on-the-ground reach of the live activity will be greatly amplified by its share-ability. As a result, this means budgets stretch further, greater cost-effectiveness and higher brand visibility online.
So present people with a real reason to share. Step into their shoes and treat them like human beings. Empathise, and figure out why and how they should share your initiative over another. After all, they’re the ones dictating whether your project succeeds or not.