There are two things every brand has to do to stay ahead in the age of audience-centric marketing:
1. Create experiences for consumers
2. Make sure they're ones people actually want to share
Why? As Creative Guerrilla Marketing says, "In the end, the goal of experiential marketing is to form a memorable and emotional connection between the consumer and the brand so that it may generate customer loyalty and influence purchase decision."
But, to address the first item on the list, creating an authentic and memorable experience is not an easy task – especially with savvy consumers expecting more all the time. In this "me"-centric age, consumers may constantly tell brands what they want via social media – but how do you apply that social intelligence to creating an experience?
Tell a story.
A new approach to storytelling
Storytelling in marketing isn't a new concept, and it's something entertainment marketers are especially familiar with, as what they're often marketing are stories: the plot of a new film coming out, the underdog story of an up-and-coming performer, the behind-the-scenes story of your favorite TV show.
These vignettes are what bring entertainment fans into the personal stories of the artists, and make them care about the work being produced.
All marketers now have to incorporate storytelling into their strategies if they want to tick off item two – shareworthiness – on the list above. And the goal of a shareable experience, according to RPM Creative Director Franz Aliquo, speaking to Forbes contributor Krisztina 'Z' Holly, is always: “Something that turns their mundane day-to-day into something magical.”
Doing that takes a little something extra, which requires a slight shift for entertainment marketers as well: The stories must be about the consumers. But to a certain extent, this makes your job easier.
Make consumers the stars
It's a simple quid pro quo, really. Create an experience that gives consumers the starring role, and they'll spread the word. User-generated content (UGC), at an all-time high thanks to the internet and social media, is your way in here.
An example of a brand leveraging UGC smartly is “The Walking Dead” franchise. Each week the show's live after-show, “Talking Dead,” features fan-submitted artwork during the broadcast. They also highlight three tweets using the hashtag #FreshBuzz, which is a call-out to Subway, one of their sponsors.
Clearly AMC, “The Walking Dead,” and Subway love these successful engagements – but most of all fans love them, creating art and tweeting week after week in the hopes of being featured.
One could argue “Talking Dead” is an experience in and of itself – a live, weekly, interactive party designed to promote “The Walking Dead,” and now “Fear the Walking Dead.” The emergence of “Talking Preacher,” the third live after-show in support of AMC's newest series, “Preacher,” is solid evidence it's a strategy that's working.
But you don't need to take things that far to succeed. Use the right platforms to connect with your audience and they may bring the experience to you. Tribute tumblrs, cosplay Vines, recap blogs – they're all out there. All you have to do is feature them and you've given consumers a story to tell.
And following the progression of trends like personalization and consumer-centricity, stories are the future of marketing. There are even new apps being designed around this idea, like Uriji Jami, a social app where users share their stories, experiences, and dreams. The app matches users with "the most suitable stories to help you fulfill your dreams." It's sharing for the sake of inspiration – which is also what marketing is at its best.
Experiences are live and mobile
Another growing trend is livestreaming, an easy way to bring consumers into an experience they might never otherwise have. What's it like to be on set during dress rehearsal at “The Tonight Show?” We know now, thanks to Jimmy Fallon's Facebook Live post.
With apps like Facebook Live, Periscope and Meerkat there's also the benefit of immediate feedback — and the opportunity for live give-and-take. Jimmy Fallon saying hi to a fan in real-time is an experience born of that fan's participation. Fans who catch the video on replay will want to be there live the next time – so they'll "like" the page, and pay closer attention. What more could any brand ask for?
But livestreaming isn't the only alternative – and entertainment brands aren't the only ones who can make use of these tactics. Liveblogging is also being streamlined with apps like Pressimus that are fun to use, easy to peruse (not like the live blogs of yore), and all about social sharing.
Pressimus pulls in posts from around the social web to inspire and create a bigger picture for users, essentially turning them into on-the-spot reporters. Get them talking about your brand — in a good way — and you're golden.
And that's always the goal. Since audiences are not just talking on social media — they’re living on it — success is there for the taking when you have the right focus, i.e., the consumer. With live publishing apps and livestreaming gaining in popularity, experience marketing will only become, well, more of an experience for everyone. Take advantage of it.