You know those days when you receive 10 party invitations on paperless post and have no idea who any of the people are that invited you? Or when you receive Facebook event after Facebook event that have nothing to do with your interests? Everyone is inundated with event invitations, which is why it is so important for brands to create experiences that not only attract the right people, but engage them when they are in the room.
Engagement is a tricky word, as it is overused and usually relates to online interaction with a brand. How many likes have I received? How many retweets? This is one assessment, but is not the whole picture.
According to the Cause Marketing Forum, companies are spending 1.84 billion dollars on cause marketing campaigns. Why? Because Millennials want to interact and engage with brands that care about the world. Center for Giving.Org reports that Millennials are much more likely to trust a company that is socially responsible (83%), as well as purchase from a company that makes a difference, (79%).
This is all wonderful news, but how do brands actually create experiences that share the impact they are doing in an engaging and compelling way? Here are four lessons that every brand should implement to stand out from the competitors and keep their target demographic coming back for more.
1. Start with an objective that makes sense to your audience. The event you create and the people you choose to speak on behalf of your brand must have a shared connection with your values. You may have a big name speaker or partner that promises to "get you online engagement," but if they are not authentically connected to your brand, it will not be a success. It is crucial to identify how to match the right speakers and partners to your brand's core messaging.
2. Think outside the box. While this may seem conventional, it is crucial. When people get invited to hear about a brand talk about their impact, they don't want to just sit and listen. They want to feel heard. They want to feel immersed in the story and become a part of the experience by sharing their own stories.
3. Invite the local community. Always invite local community partners to be a part of your events, whether they are local food and beverage partners, or local speakers that may want to attend or even give a talk. It is important to make the local community feel just as important as the global community that you are trying to reach. By tapping into this grassroots connections, you are in a position to share your message in a more authentic way.
4. Don't forget the human connection. While social media is important, creating authentic, interpersonal human connections is even more crucial. When guests are present enough to truly engage, they are far more likely to share online. You want to create experiences where people want to connect with each other before they grab their phones to connect with their followers.
In sum, whatever experience you create, add a sense of humility, humanity, authenticity and vulnerability into the mix. We always ask our speakers questions before they speak like, "what was a pivotal moment that changed the trajectory of your life?" or "what did you want to be when you were 8 years old?" By asking people who they are and not necessarily what they do you open them up to form connections with each other that matter. No one brand knows everything, so why not include your audience in the conversation? The more opportunities you create to engage and make your audience feel heard, the more likely you are to bring them from bystanders to brand ambassadors.