What’s the point of social media if you do not have an experience to share? Sure, you could post a meme or maybe a thought, but the majority of people use social media to share their experiences and to view the experiences of others (don’t believe me, ask somebody why they stay on social media… to stay connected with family and friends). With people spending the majority of their time online, companies have geared their marketing to this medium in order to align with the general population’s attention.
However, you can’t just plop an ad online and expect people to interact with it, let alone view it for more than a second (swipe left). We’ve learned to adapt to most of the advertisements around us by tuning them out, by installing block-up ads, or simply by scrolling past them. A way for advertisers to get around this is by pushing their products onto celebrities; put a soft drink in the hand of an internet star, or send them a pair of shoes to Snap, and suddenly you have an engaged audience with your content/product. But, companies can’t always get products into the hands of celebrities or influencers, or, there will always be a cohort of people (like myself) who do not engage or follow in celebrity and influencer culture. So what alternatives are there? Experiential Marketing.
This goes back to the crux of social media; shared experiences. Creating experiences for users to share and to interact with your product is a definitive way to ensure audiences are engaging with your brand. This can unfold in a few different ways. For example, one could be the sponsor of an event, in which audiences will see the brand’s name upon entry, or on the cups of the beverages in which they imbibe. This is a more primitive form of marketing, but one that is still powerful because of it’s primitiveness; brand repetition develops brand recognition and begets brand loyalty. The more you see a brand over and over again, the more you trust it – even if you have never truly interacted with the brand. Seeing a logo repetitively builds familiarity and thus trust. So, when an individual goes to buy or use a product they will most likely gravitate towards the familiar brand. Here’s another way of thinking about it: Why do you think so many people like Andy Warhol? Because the majority of his iconography is/was easily available pop-culture references, thus recognizable, familiar, accessible, and thus favorable… it’s just brand repetition (and keep in mind, Warhol comes from a marketing background).
Another way this can play out – and a more evolved and current form – is by creating experiences in which audiences are prone to sharing the information because it is an experience/activity for them to post on their social media and demonstrate their interesting lives. Take Refinery 29’s 29 Rooms for example. It is designed for people to go in and snap a photo or take a video and share it on their personal social media page. Enter their room of pillows, brought to you by whichever mattress company was the sponsor, and voila, thousands of people are sharing your brand – and more importantly, sharing it in an authentic way.
In summary, the internet is still an effective tool, but do not forget the importance of IRL (in real life, for those of you who don’t know). People want experiences; people want authenticity; people want an escape from their digital-world only so they can share about it on said digital-world and develop their own brand identity.
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