Extending the Life of Your Experiential Marketing Execution

iPhone 5SRecently, I was at an event where I was totally pumped to see an experiential piece I’d only read about before – the “Hug Me” Coke machine. It’s pretty simple – you walk up and hug the Coke machine, and immediately it starts to click and whir. Seconds later, a Coke comes out. It’s perfect. As a colleague of mine put it, “I don’t like to hug, but that really just felt good.”

That visceral feeling is what Coke was looking for – associating their brand with a positive feeling.

I immediately started snapping pictures of strangers at the machine before my colleague embraced it. I took a picture of her and shared it on Instagram and Twitter, but since I don’t follow Coke on either of those accounts I was left with whatever hashtag I could come up with at that point (and definitely no at-mention). The promotion was missing something.

We’ve done executions in the past with a photobooth, and while I love them, it’s insanely clunky. Someone takes a picture of you and hands you a card with a URL and a number on it; you then go home and download your picture and can share it elsewhere. That can be clunky and costly, and worst-case scenario, your cards get out-of-order – meaning that everyone gets the wrong pic.

Other companies have pitched us on the idea of a photobooth execution with iPads in place, where you log in and post to your networks from the event, immediately log out, and the picture is shared with your networks and on a gallery on the organization’s site. Again, that can get a bit complex. Your audience may have issues with trusting the device (they’re entering their password into someone else’s iPad), and if brand ambassadors aren’t trained appropriately they may have difficulty assuaging the concerns of the audience. It’s also not a quick process – for a four-hour execution your best-case scenario is 80 pics per iPad (20 per hour, 1 every 3 minutes.)

So if you don’t want to incur the costs, but you want people to share your message, what can you do?

  • Encourage them to follow you while they’re waiting in line. Do they know your accounts? Can you get them to follow you on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – so they can then tag you in the pictures? If they don’t, provide signage and other information to let them know how they can find you and tag you.
  • What’s in it for them? Is it a contest (share using the hashtag #wincoolstuff to win)? Is it the chance to be the fan of the week on their social media pages? You need to inform them about why they should a) take a picture, b) why they should tag your organization and c) why they should use your recommended hashtag.
  • Speaking of what’s in it for them – how can you make the experience cool and consistent with your brand? Can you have props where they can quickly get dressed up – if it’s a beach-themed event, can you have palm trees, a Spicoli wig, a cutout or a huge flipflop? Promo items for them after they participate? What’s going to make it fun for them? This will define how they consider you and your brand.
  • And after they’ve taken the picture – will they know what your desired hashtag is? We used a bunch of random hashtags (#HugMe and #Coke) but nothing we did was going to strengthen their brand. Inform them about the hashtag and how they can share the picture using that hashtag. This is about them – but it’s also about you and your brand.

There are definitely other ways your audience can share your experiential execution. If you’ve got more – share them in the comments below.


Note: This post is a guest post from a member of our DMR Insider Community.

Image credit: Kārlis Dambrāns via flickr