Since the beginning, promoters have relied upon a wide variety of tactics to attract crowds to events. After all, you may have the Greatest Show on Earth on display (aka Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus), but unless you’ve properly marketed yourself, no one will come see it.
As society (and marketing) has evolved, these tactics have also evolved and now we are in an experience arms race for modern events: welcome to the experience economy in full swing.
But, in a world of near-constant change and a million and one different diversions vying for our undivided attention, which tactics can B2B marketers deploy that will both resonate and also enhance the experience of our audience?
One area is influencer marketing. Not only is there demonstrable ROI, but the industry is growing rapidly and on target to reach $10 billion in 2020 (1).
Think about influencer marketing this way: assuming the influencer is someone who your audience admires and trusts, then their endorsement is a nitro fueled peer-to-peer review.
After all, everyone has people, celebrities or not, that they admire and look-up to. What better than to see an endorsement from one of these people for a solution or offering that you might have been considering buying. Such endorsements have the power to remove the psychological barriers to making a change and potentially trying something new.
That’s where the power of influencers at events comes in, but how exactly do you capitalize the most on this attraction? Read the list below to find out.
1. Get Influencers to Actively Take Part in Gamification
In simple terms, gamification is the process of rewarding participants for taking certain actions.
One example from the B2C world of a company using gamification in this capacity is Peloton. Executing this to extraordinary success, they’ve managed to bolster their client ranks by focusing on an array of primordial switches such as points, achievements, badges, diverse weekly challenges, and most importantly, their global leaderboard. This leaderboard acts as an interactive platform for millions of users, allowing them to challenge friends, aim to beat past records, and reach prominence in the eyes of millions of fellow athletes.
All of these switches incite universal human emotions—curiosity, excitement, competitiveness—and, what’s more, reward a player in a methodical, linear fashion. So, if a player puts in 3 hours of work, they can always expect to be compensated in the virtual world for 3 hours. This same fair, albeit unrealistic, reward system is not mirrored in real-life and subsequently creates an addictive environment for players.
So how can you deploy influencers in gamification?
- Have your influencers front and center in the event app documenting their gaming achievements and urging attendees to compete with them to see who can score a better record.
- Fans of the influencer will undoubtedly have difficulty refusing such a challenge, especially since the badges, points, and achievements are all related to their industry of interest.
2. Influencers as Speakers
Events usually have two different types of speakers: main stage and sessions. Each type has a different purpose and audience, from the broadest (attending main stage) to the specific sessions with niche audiences. Both of these speaker opportunities present an opportunity for carefully considered influencer marketing.
From a main stage perspective, the audience is very broad, encompassing a range of interests and needs. Is there a chance to have someone who is well known or can quickly gain credibility with the audience, to either raise awareness of the problem you solve, or lightly endorse your company or product/offering? This can be a great opportunity to leverage the influencer’s unique skill set, opinion, or experience within the industry.
When it comes to the second type, the session speaker, the goal here is different. Namely to provide a deeper and more specialized level of knowledge and information. Here it becomes critical that influencers have first-hand experience within the industry, of the expertise or of the solutions/offering. At this level, the speaker is less likely to be a celebrity, and more likely to come from within the industry or even your client base (see here to find out how to choose your influencer).
How you can deploy influencers as speakers:
- Match speaker to the environment — if main stage, then general credibility might be acceptable, and if in a specific session, deeper credibility and first-hand knowledge is a must.
- Be clear about what the influencer is endorsing (and that they have the required credibility).
- Think about how to find micro-influencers within the industry (see X to find out how to discover potential influencers).
- If you think you have the right mixture of authenticity, celebrity and audience, then do not be afraid to use FOMO to your advantage.
3. Live Streaming the Influencer
In recent years, live streaming has grown in popularity, with the medium allowing fans to interact in real-time with celebrities in a convenient manner.
Living vicariously through the influencer by watching their day-to-day life, asking questions, and posting comments are all part of the interactive, live streaming process.
Why not allow this powerful platform to boost your event by forging a connection between the influencer and your attendees?
By having your influencer’s livestream highlighted in your event app feed as they engage in various activities at the event, your attendees will be roused to participate in the festivities, creating a sense of camaraderie and unification across the community.
Here are just a few possible examples an influencer could participate in while live streaming to engage attendees:
- Q&A – There’s nothing more popular to a fanbase than giving them the opportunity to speak their mind openly with the person they admire and ask them anything. The process allows fans to engage with the influencer in a transparent, authentic fashion that strengthens their bond.
- Live stream them taking part in the activity they’re famous for. So, if it’s a videogame influencer, have them live stream playing a popular video game, if it’s a beauty influencer, have them live stream their makeup routine, etc.
- Vlogging their event experience as they go about their personal itinerary. What does their personal schedule look like compared to others and what are their thoughts/reactions to the different presentations? Other attendees will be curious to see if they have different opinions.
- Behind the scenes tour of the event. Many people love getting a behind the scenes look at how an event is run and a charismatic influencer is the perfect host for such a show.
4. Have the Influencer Show Off Their Calling Card
The only thing better than seeing an influencer in person is interacting with them in their respective trade.
For example, whether the attendee is getting the chance to play videogames with a video game influencer, have a beauty influencer do their makeup, or having a business leader and tech titan download and use an app on their smartphone, when people see someone they’ve admired and followed for a long time online, they want to bring the fantasy of that larger-than-life personality to life.
There’s no better way to facilitate this then allow them the chance to interact personally in the medium the influencer is famous for. Not only is this an enormously educational moment for an attendee, it makes for a great story later.
Who wouldn’t want to tell their friends how they shot basketballs with Michael Jordan or played Fortnite with Ninja?
Gary Vaynerchuck is often hired by companies to give live stream speeches in order to inspire their employees. And, in person, it isn’t uncommon to see experts in their field like Brian Fanzo or Ann Handley brought in to tech companies to give marketing workshops for up-and-coming executives.
Be assured if you do choose to have your influencer host this type of meet and greet, it will be responsible for one of the longest lines at the venue.
5. Influencers that Exhibit
Exhibitions are another great way to utilize your influencer to their fullest. By having them showcase future products in their respective field/industry, you immediately bring attention and credibility to the product.
Furthermore, if you have a famous influencer exhibit and endorse a new device to be released sometime in the relative future, you can almost guarantee there will be a decent number of pre-orders.
Remember, any product the influencer is exhibiting should be consistent with both their background and your brand’s image.
As the event industry continues to mature and endure growing pains, there are several notable patterns that can be deciphered in its wake that reveal what will guide its future: the importance of who’s backing the event, the power of an event’s content, the potency of an event’s international unity, and the tremendous influence a small group of people can wield when properly articulating their views on an event’s presentation stage.
With the industry changing so quickly, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and daunted by the idea of putting on your own event. Fortunately, one thing is adamantly clear — the day of the influencer marketer has arrived and incorporating them into your event, if not a must, is increasingly seen as a beneficial move.
The ways an event planner chooses to take advantage of such a great asset is only limited by their imagination.