How the Growth of Influencers and Short-Form Videos Have Impacted Digital Marketing and Events

In the past few years, we have seen a shift in social media across all channels, starting as platforms promoting interpersonal connection and evolving into powerful vessels of consumerism, word of mouth, and B2C marketing.

Instagram was one of the pioneers in creating a new landscape for marketing and advertising, particularly in an avenue we are starting to see grow exponentially — influencer marketing. Large accounts that showcased their photography, art, and hobbies began to open up and allow followers to know the person behind the account, creating the invaluable marketing tool we now know as the “influencer.” Photographer and influencer Jaci Marie Smith recently posted a TikTok video on the evolution of Instagram, where she took a deep dive into her Instagram feed in 2014. She was solely a photographer at the time and most of her photos were of her subjects. Then, she noticed a trend. Out of all her curated, impersonal photography, a post of her eating lunch gained the most likes. “The reason that’s interesting is because, at this time, being a social media influencer wasn’t really a thing yet,” Smith said in the video. “Once I realized people were more interested in the person behind the lens, and their life, and following along with that, I started … working with brands and ‘becoming an influencer.’”

This speaks volumes to the rise of the new world of social media we marketers thrive in today. Instagrammers would start branding themselves for the masses, curating a lifestyle industry that their followers tuned in to daily. Consumers would buy products recommended by their favorite influencers because they trusted their opinion and wanted to recreate their personal brand for themselves. Brands and other businesses began to realize that word-of-mouth promotion was booming and began to work with influencers to promote products or services.

The next step in this evolution came with the creation of “Stories.” Snapchat was the first to implement Stories, a means of photo and video slideshows. Instagram, Facebook, and even Twitter soon began to implement Stories on their platforms. Individual users would post throughout their day, curating a new sense of realism and romanticizing the mundane.

Since the creation of Stories, gone are the days of heavily stylized posts — consumers want to see a glimpse into the “behind the scenes” of daily life and brand authenticity. The key to Stories is their video capabilities. Brands and influencers can film themselves promoting a product or service and directly provide a link for their followers to access immediately. Brands have even sold out of a particular product within hours because a particular influencer posted a photo with it or filmed a story raving about it.

After influencers have well-dominated the social media marketing game, then came the rise of video within the last few years, specifically short-form videos. TikTok and Instagram Reels have been a game changer in terms of word-of-mouth marketing and user-generated content. Viral videos on TikTok have led to feta being sold out in grocery stores because of users attempting to recreate a popular pasta dish they saw. Certain makeup products have been sold out for months due to the popularity of one successful video, and the list keeps growing!

Not only is this platform a tool for creating influencers out of everyday TikTok users who inspire and promote brand loyalty with companies they love, but the companies themselves have hopped on the bandwagon with their own TikTok accounts. There, they create funny, snappy, engaging content that users love. Production studio Lionsgate is an excellent example of this, posting witty videos poking fun at their own films, especially ones that have cult followings. Followers want to see their favorite brands have personality, they want to see authenticity, and the best way to convey brand personality is through short video content.

If you’re wondering how this influencer and video-based marketing translates to events, it wouldn’t be much different. While we are not selling products at MCI, we sell experiences, and the world of quick, captivating video and influencer marketing is invaluable. We all remember the disaster of Fyre Festival, but why did it blow up to begin with? One could say a key participant in this false hype was that Kendall Jenner and other A-list influencers promoted the teaser video on their Instagram accounts.

When looking at more successful music festivals and events such as Coachella, a huge part of their popularity is that celebrities and music artists attend and film videos of themselves there or preparing to attend. Companies even pay for social media influencers to attend, sponsoring them with VIP passes, because they know they will document the entire experience by posting photos, creating daily Stories, and filming in-depth videos while there. This is a major part of the hype of these events. If it’s seen on social media as something desirable, the masses want to be part of it.

How does this translate to the events we work with at MCI? While we may not be marketing Coachella, every event has an audience and industry, and in every industry, there are influencers who are well-respected and widely followed by prospective attendees. Find them, connect with them, and use them to promote your event. Many potential attendees will register because a particular influencer tells them it is worth their time to do so.

In addition, consider your audience to have a short attention span before they lose interest and move on. They will glance at a photo and keep scrolling. Video begs them to hang on a little longer and watch engaging content to understand the full message. Video media is crucial nowadays. Everyone is watching something, whether it be a streaming service, scrolling through TikTok or Instagram Reels, or engaging with content on Stories. Video can capture attention faster than a photo, especially when scrolling through primarily photo-based social media feeds such as Instagram or Facebook. To the consumer, it feels more personal and authentic, and it is an excellent way to inspire brand loyalty through word-of-mouth and user-generated content, as well as establish your event’s personality.

Juliana Pearce is a marketing specialist in MCI USA’s Strategic Events, Meetings & Incentives business unit. She has been with MCI for three years and continues to develop marketing materials, campaigns, and creative content for both SEM&I event clients and MCI. She is based out of the Dallas office. In her free time, she loves to explore creative writing, photography, travel, and cooking — and of course, becoming an expert in all forms of social media!

5 Ways to Increase Event Attendance

Sell, sell, sell — that’s all we think about when wanting to increase event presence as much as possible. Not only is it a top goal, but it also creates a lot of pressure and can be a huge stressor for most event companies and marketers.

Let’s relieve some of that stress with these five tips on how you can increase event attendance right away.

1. Leverage your email list.

Email marketing is critical when promoting an upcoming event. Let’s start with personal invites. This is a great way to increase awareness, while also providing a human-centric touch. People want personalization in their emails; they want to feel special and to be seen as individuals. Personal invites also stand out in someone’s inbox as highly relevant, as they are tailored specifically to them. Use this tactic with your email list and encourage your sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, etc., to do the same.

Share your event in creative ways such as in a newsletter or through a video invite. Video can facilitate a more personal connection than written content and can be an emotional driver that helps increase sales and generate long-term customers.

Also, drive your content through list segmentation, which allows you to get granular with your content and the audience you are speaking to. Audience segmenting is a key driver for personalization as well. By dividing your audience into segments and tailoring your message to each one, you have a better chance of connecting with each customer, hitting them with information that’s specific to them.

2. Use ad retargeting and geofencing.

Retargeting can be used to reengage (or “retarget”) people who came to your website to buy a ticket or register for your event, but they never completed the transaction. This technique displays relevant ads to past website visitors while they’re browsing other sites online. Your ad should encourage them to revisit your site and finish their purchase. Don’t be afraid to generate a sense of urgency in your creative and messaging.

Geofencing is another great way to market your event to a particular group or audience around a specific targeted area. Geofencing allows you to set virtual boundaries around a geographic area. When someone enters that area, their mobile device sets off an action, such as a push notification, etc.

You can use geofencing in a few ways, but for building attendance, target competitor events. You can do this through the location, date, and time of the competitor’s event and then creating a value proposition to entice the person to click the ad.

3. Offer discounts.

Discounts are a great way to reward people for registering for an event. A small discount strategy can incentivize ticket purchases and drive sales. So, whether it’s early-bird rates, discount codes, or referral codes, you want to get inventive when applying discounts.

Discounts can be essential in developing your marketing strategy; however, if you don’t use discounts correctly, you risk losing your brand’s value.

Pros for Using Discounts Cons for Using Discounts
Drives more sales volume

Brings in new customers

Builds relationships with loyal patrons

Creates buyer urgency

Helps people choose your event over competitors’

Can decrease profit margins

Can lower perceived worth of event

Showcasing to people who only value discounts

Shifts focus from event value to price

Competitive price war

Before you decide on a discount strategy, make sure you set your goals. Your objectives will define the type of discount you can offer. There are many ways to use discounts, and to avoid any uncertainty, map out a transparent approach. Having these options outlined gives you flexibility when it comes to ticketing, which will make it easier to sell at all stages of event promotion.

4. Develop lookalike audiences.

You have people who previously purchased tickets to your event, and now you want to find more just like them. A great way to do this is by creating lookalike audiences through mail lists and social channels.

A lookalike audience lets your ads reach new people who may be interested in your event because of their similarities to your current customers. Most social channels have the technology you need to find lookalike audiences.

5. Gather and analyze digital analytics from your event to learn from activity.

The more you know about how visitors found you, the more educated you are in making decisions to advocate in the right places online. Without this knowledge, you won’t know the potential problems your event’s online presence is facing or be able to make any important changes.

Web analytics is defined as “the measurement and analysis of data to inform an understanding of user behavior across web pages.” Analytics data shows whether your marketing is working and areas where you can improve. This type of insight can benefit your events.

Here are six ways to get started measuring digital analytics:

  • Choose an analytics platform that works for you and your current software. Google Analytics is a good and free place to start.
  • Set up tracking by placing pixels and integrating API on all pages of your website.
  • Create segments of your overall audience by collecting data from your pixels. As previously mentioned, segmenting your audience is a huge marketing benefit.
  • Track your progress. This is established by your analytics tool once it is configured and set up.
  • Report and analyze the data being provided by the analytics tool and grow your event.
  • Define and measure your goals by different variables.

Attendance marketing can be difficult; however, by implementing these five tips into your everyday marketing strategy, you are sure to be off to a great start. Remember, having a plan is key, and creating opportunities for personalization is a must.

Looking to grow your events audience? Contact us so we can help you grow! [fusion_button link=”” title=”” target=”_self” link_attributes=”” alignment_medium=”” alignment_small=”” alignment=”” modal=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” sticky_display=”normal,sticky” class=”” id=”” color=”default” button_gradient_top_color=”” hue=”” saturation=”” lightness=”” alpha=”” button_gradient_bottom_color=”” button_gradient_top_color_hover=”” button_gradient_bottom_color_hover=”” gradient_start_position=”” gradient_end_position=”” gradient_type=”” radial_direction=”” linear_angle=”180″ accent_color=”” accent_hover_color=”” type=”” bevel_color=”” bevel_color_hover=”” border_top=”” border_right=”” border_bottom=”” border_left=”” border_radius_top_left=”” border_radius_top_right=”” border_radius_bottom_right=”” border_radius_bottom_left=”” border_color=”” border_hover_color=”” size=”” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” fusion_font_family_button_font=”” fusion_font_variant_button_font=”” font_size=”” line_height=”” letter_spacing=”” text_transform=”” stretch=”default” margin_top=”” margin_right=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” icon=”” icon_position=”left” icon_divider=”no” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]Learn More[/fusion_button]

Jenn Karsner, senior marketing manager, Strategic Events, Meetings, and Incentives, comes to MCI USA with an entrepreneurial mindset that was sharpened by owning her own business. This spirit is coupled with the event experience she gained from more than 10 years of running and managing events and marketing. Jenn loves to travel and spend time with her son.

4 Insights on Better Engaging Your Audience in 2022

Every association should consistently ask, “Are we staying relevant to our members?” – and especially now as we look to 2021, a new year with much uncertainty.

The good news is, the process to answer that question doesn’t need to be complex; it can be found in three ingredients that, when integrated into your strategy, will keep your association the top choice for your members’ professional development and networking needs.

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