By far the biggest buzzword to take the content marketing industry by storm over the past decade is “experiential.” But while you may be hearing this term bandied about at networking events, or notice it listed as a category at some prominent awards shows, its exact definition is trickier to pin down. Are dinner parties experiential? Photo booths? Augmented reality gaming?
While industry experts may disagree over the specific terminology, one thing is for certain: The more popular “experiential” marketing gets, the more difficult it is to make an impression.
And experiential marketing is popular, with no signs of becoming less so. 77% of marketers are already using experiential as a core component of their advertising strategy, while another 65% agree that experiential content contributes directly to sales. From 2017 to 2018, total revenue for experiential marketing jumped 7% to $50.6 billion dollars, and that number has only continued to steadily increase. No wonder thousands of brands around the world are eagerly hopping on the immersive bandwagon…and no wonder the results are frequently so mixed.
Think about it for just a second: Your brand could throw the most amazing, ground-breaking experiential tea party in the world, but realistically, how much of your audience will be able to attend? A couple dozen? Maybe a few hundred if you’re lucky, or a few thousand if you really go all out with some large-scale production. Even when you factor in press, how can such an inherently limited turnout provide a successful return on investment (ROI) when the initial costs for activations are notoriously high?
This is where incorporating videography and photography into your immersive activation can become especially important. Video content has already been proven time and again to be one of the most effective ways of connecting with audiences (especially Millennials and Gen Z-ers), generating engagement, and driving conversion. Through the power of video, even audiences who missed the initial event can get a look at your product or services close-up, and experience the experience through their personal screens.
Videography is an undeniably essential building block of any content marketer’s strategy, but in the crush of creating live activations, can often be forgotten or relegated to the sidelines. What struggling marketers don’t seem to realize is that an experiential activation is not the final product of an advertising campaign – it is only the first step on a long-term content journey. 60% of marketers agree that extending the impact of a live experience beyond the experience itself is crucial to the ultimate success of their strategy, so how can your brand find a way to incorporate videography/photography for powerful, engaging activation?
Think Inside The Box
One of the most important aspects of incorporating videography into your live activation must be taken into consideration long before the very first set is constructed or performer hired. As soon as you decide to attempt something experiential, your brand has to ask itself: “How will this look on a cellphone?”
Mobile content is arguably the fastest-growing creative mediums, and just one form that you’ll need to take into account. From the very start of your activation planning process, try to figure out how your experience can be optimized for different types of video content. The more that you know about what you want before you get started, the easier a time your brand will have creating said content during (and after) your experience.
For example, this 2015 activation by Mattel was designed from the bottom-up with social video content as a goal. Hidden cameras were integrated throughout the live portion of the activation to capture authentic responses that they could repurpose for multiple other channels.
Mattel understood that the experiential activation was only the first step in their content journey. The real pay-off was in the post-activation content that they were able to create, and which had a significantly broader reach: 25 million views and counting.
Whether you’re creating a simple recap video for those who weren’t in attendance, enticing snippets for social platforms, or something more complex, like Mattel, your first step should always be to conceptualize ahead of the activation. If it helps, think of your activation as a scenic overlook on your cross-country road trip. Yes, it’s an important part of the experience, but if you choose to end the whole journey right there, you’ll miss more than you ever know. Video is the part that comes next.
Engaging The Masses
Experiential activations don’t need to be private, walled-off events. Some of the most successful activations of the past several years have taken place in public, for passing audiences who were either totally unaware of your brand or would not have been eager participants under alternative circumstances. Video has always played a tremendous role in these open public activations by capturing the inherent spontaneity of a live event – anything can happen at any moment, which makes for perfectly buzzy viral video content.
But “make your activation public” doesn’t always mean “just film a roadside performance.” We’ve already discussed how Burger King won big at Cannes by creating a video case study out of their nationwide experiential activation. Watch again and observe the bold concepts that allowed them to shoot super effective, award-winning content from an activation that might have slipped below public notice otherwise.
The User Generation
When you use videography and photography at your experiential activations, don’t forget to tap into your most valuable resources: Your audience. Thanks to smartphones, everybody in attendance at your branded events can instantly become their own personal videographer and photographer, creating tons of fresh content for social media. In fact, one third of activation attendees have stated that they plan to make posts about their experience. All you need to do is find ways of encouraging the social media-friendly behavior that they are already inclined to participate in.
One of the best methods for taking advantage of an audience’s social media urges is by setting up specific photo backdrops, or even a dedicated photo booth. When given explicit “permission” to take as many selfies as they can and share these as much as possible, your audience almost certainly will. Look how much fun audiences had at this LaCroix-branded pop-up at the 2018 Eeeeeatscon.
As we mentioned, something to always keep in mind is that your pieces of content are individual aspects of your overall content journey. Like rungs on a ladder, they steadily elevate your brand to where it needs to be. Videography and photography are just another part of that journey, working together to enhance your experiential activations. When edited into video content, they take on an array of new possibilities – like one ladder suddenly sprouting into two or three or four.
Video is one of the most valuable tools that content marketers have at their disposal. So take your activations to the next level with a guarantee that even after the experience is over, the brand conversation is just beginning.