Like any successful business model, the event world is constantly evolving.In the 1980s, the phrase "event industry" meant weddings and bar mitzvahs - imagine how many millions of dollars were spent on tulle and hairspray alone. In the 1990s, it was all about trade shows and corporate events. Instead of a sad continental breakfast spread in a hotel ballroom, trade shows became multi-day, multi-location destinations, complete with high profile speakers and even a concert or two. Now? The event industry is an umbrella term for the traditional wedding or trade show, but also brand sponsorships, activations, music events, marketing stunts, mobile tours, mall pop-ups, and everything in between. Google "event trends 2016" and you will find a casual 150 million results.
While following these "trends" in the event industry were an important part of keeping your events interesting, relevant, and aspirational to the consumer, most became stale very quickly. There's nothing worse than spending thousands (or millions!) of your client's or your own precious marketing budget on an experience that will leave people passing over as they say, "been there, done that."
Check out three outdated event marketing trends and follow our guidelines for what your brand can do instead:
1. Creating videos with the goal of "going viral"
The video racked up over 41 million views in just three days. However, when Wren Studios released a follow-up video with CEO Melissa Coker, revealing that the video was an ad for the new 2014 collection, only 100,000 people viewed it. Spending time and money with such a subjective goal as "to go viral" is a gamble few brands win.
Instead: Give people a reason to share your content. Host a retweet contest in which your brand's Twitter followers are encouraged to retweet a post or photo from your account for a chance to win prizes at your event. It widens your social engagements and impressions more authentically than a Twitter Ad.
2. Fostering inauthentic partnerships
Brand partnerships, when done well, elevate everyone involved and create instant connection with your consumers, but it's a tricky business. You have to partner wisely. Consumers are savvy and quick to identify a brand partnership that seems to exist only for the hype.
In 2014, Lady Gaga performed on the Doritos Bold Stage at SXSW. Fans were encouraged to share videos of themselves doing #boldchallenges to win tickets to the show. On stage, Gaga never mentioned the sponsor’s name, let alone a hashtag. In fact, she passionately chided big business, telling the crowd that you don’t need corporations to be an artist. “I won’t play by your f*cking rules,” she screamed. Later Gaga pleaded with fans to put their phones down, which would of course prohibit them from tweeting #bold things. “When you leave the earth no one’s gonna care what you tweeted.” Ouch.
Instead: Do some market research about your consumers. Who are they? Where do they live? What music, shows, movies, or brands do they love? Ensure that if you partner with an artist or another brand, the two go together better than Doritos and Lady Gaga.
3. Falling into the auto-posting trap
All marketers are guilty of this. When we’re pressed for time, especially leading up to and during an event, auto-posting makes it quick and easy to post the same message across all of our social-media networks. This doesn't always work for two reasons:
1. Each social network serves its own unique purpose and attracts a unique audience. The same message usually doesn’t work on four or five different networks.
2. You need to be able to react and post on the fly during your event. Experiential marketing can often be a lesson in Murphy's Law, so it's important that your social messaging reflect what's actually happening on the ground, not what you planned to happen.
Instead: Auto-post with wiggle room. Go ahead and schedule pre-event announcements, contests, and hype posts. Even feel free to squeeze some in during your event that encourage attendees to share your hashtag or comment with their favorite element, but leave room during the biggest activations (such as a performance, unveiling, or surprise stunt) To keep your content relevant, tailor it specifically to the network you’re posting to.