One hundred and fifty. That’s the number of friendships you (or I) are capable of maintaining, also known as “Dunbar’s number.” This was discovered by Robin Dunbar, an Oxford professor of experimental psychology. He claims any number over 150 is more than the typical human brain can handle. But, what does it mean if the average Facebook user has 338 “friends?” Does his research still stand? It does, thanks to further analysis that shows online interaction does not strengthen the bonds of the weaker links. Even with our growing adoption of social media, Dunbar’s number stands true. And, that’s because these lesser relationships lack one vital ingredient – the “synchronicity of shared experience.”
According to Dunbar, we need “face-to-face time” to establish “deeper connections.” And, he says, “the time we invest in superficial relationships comes at the expense of more profound ones,” which poses another question. Are we wasting our time on social media? The answer is a resounding no.
A study out of the University of California, San Diego finds being on social networks may help us live longer. This is possible by boosting our social circles, which has proven time and again to extend one’s life. Yet, harmony must lie with other areas. The study’s experts say, “Interacting online seems to be healthy when the online activity is moderate and complements interactions offline.” The same could be said for the best brand experiences. A healthy balance of online interaction and face-to-face time is necessary for success. That means digital marketing and experiential marketing must co-exist.
Why Brands Need Balanced Marketing
The numbers are in. Digital marketing alone is incapable of doing the job brands need. For example, over 40% of those engaging in social media have yet to determine its impact. Yet, we do know 65% of us pay no attention to online ads and will “skip” them without blinking. Instead, we’re on the hunt for an experience. And, this is particularly true for millennials, of whom around 75% prefer to buy an experience over material goods. This is pushing many brands to strike a balance. They’re offering an experience to encourage the sale of their products. And, they can prove the effectiveness, with almost 45% of brands realizing a 3:1 ROI.
Still, we must consider where people go when they want to spread the word, whether good or bad, about a brand. And, that’s online. In fact, 98% of consumers will “create digital or social content at events and experiences.” One-hundred percent of them will share it, showing the synchronicity of the two marketing forms. This makes combining them of high importance when planning for the best brand experiences. The elements of each must complement the other to strike a healthy balance for success.
[Tweet “Experiential marketing gets greater results but thrives in sync with digital marketing efforts.”]
5 Must-Haves for the Best Brand Experiences
Brands looking to deliver the best brand experiences must examine these five elements. Their cohesiveness across digital and experiential marketing will make all the difference.
1. A well-defined goal.
Every good marketing campaign begins with a clear understanding of what it is you’re trying to do. And, the more exact your goal is, the better. Knowing what you want to achieve will help you pinpoint the best type of experiential marketing activation. It will also help you determine how you’ll engage digital marketing to drive participation. For instance, you may be a new company wishing to bring your product to market. In this case, you may launch a street team in combination with targeted social media ads. Your ads can inform about your product, as well as drive traffic to your street team for more info, which may include free samples or demos.
2. A detailed marketing plan.
So many details go into an experiential marketing campaign. It begins at a high-level with your date and location. And, then drills down to the who, what and how. All these nuts and bolts must be captured in a formal marketing plan. Otherwise, ability to reach your goals may be at stake.
You may choose to alert people of your experiential marketing campaign, and even encourage their participation via social media or email. You may do this in a series of ads or ongoing communications, which will require scheduled timing. Keeping lockstep with your plan ensures digital marketing efforts best support those of experiential.
3. A Consistent Story.
The best brand experiences tell a good story. It will be one that reinforces the goal so that consumers understand what it is you want them to take away. For example, you want to sell a certain number of bags of potato chips, which are the healthiest on the market. Tell consumers why they’re the healthiest. And, don’t be afraid to get creative with it. You’ll only want to be sure what you tell them in person matches what you tell them online. That’s because sending them mixed messages will kill your credibility. And, when consumers distrust you, they won’t buy from you. In fact, Harvard Business Review says “trust is more important than ever” and is even “an important source of strategic advantage.” This tells us what you convey in this one campaign can have lasting effects on overall brand perception.
4. Competent Staff.
Realizing how important trust is to your brand’s current and future well-being, it’s important to choose the best people to convey your messages. It doesn’t matter if you have two hundred or two million social media followers. You wouldn’t trust just anybody to log on and interact with your target audience. And, you shouldn’t trust just anyone to get face-to-face with your event’s attendees. That’s why many marketers look to an event staffing company. They know an expert agency will provide event staff with the skills needed to fulfill their goal. They’ll also train them on a brand’s key messages and products to ensure attendees can trust what they’re hearing.
[Tweet “You wouldn’t trust just anyone to manage social media. Don’t be lax with your event staff either.”]
5. Uniform Content.
We know the majority of attendees will document their experience on social media. So, why not get in front of it and make it work to your benefit? Through regular posts to your brand’s accounts, you can set the tone for their content. Try using a custom hashtag for your campaign. And, when you create it on the front end, you can share it with your guests to encourage cohesive sharing.
Also consider creating an area with branded props and backdrops at your event where attendees can take videos and images. Your brand visibility in their social media posts will increase your return on engagement. You’ll extend your reach well beyond your experiential marketing activation and your own social media accounts. More importantly, your brand’s social circle has now grown to help you ultimately grow your exposure and influence.
Achieving a healthy marketing balance is important in delivering the best brand experiences. Street teams are a great compliment to almost any marketing strategy. Download our Complete Guide to Successful Street Team Marketing to get expert tips for before, during, and after execution.