3 Keys To Social Success At Your Next Event

Starbucks and the 2012 Pivot Conference approached their events a little differently this year. They decided to engage their audience by putting them front and center by highlighting curated social conversations. These event experiences illuminated several key best practices for brands aiming to engage consumers.

1. Show them their voice is being heard, even in a large crowd.

At the Starbucks conference from October 4th-7th in Houston, Texas, social content quite literally took center stage. Starbucks and Mass Relevance displayed Twitter Streams on a Jumbotron suspended in the middle of the Toyota Center (home of the Houston Rockets). While waiters delivered cups of Thanksgiving blend coffee to the nearly 10,000 Starbucks managers in attendance, the caffeinated crowd channeled their excitement to Twitter. Enthusiastic Tweets streamed overhead as attendees listened to speeches by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey (there to announce the partnership between his mobile payment service, Square, and Starbucks). Highly visual and immediate feedback caused Twitter engagement to spike to 49 Tweets per minute. One person attending the event Tweeted: “It’s amazing. Everyone in here can make mochas!” A photo wall containing pictures that partners Tweeted also proved wildly successful, prompting extremely high levels of engagement (48 Tweets per minute) at its height. The main takeaway from the Starbucks conference is that people like hearing their own social voice in a crowded room, and providing a variety of ways for people to express themselves (whether it be through photo or text) will ultimately maximize participation.

2. Tailor the experience to fit the behavior of the end user.

One week after the Starbucks conference, we turned our attention to stimulating social engagement in our own backyard for the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Mass Relevance launched the ACL Social Viewer to allow people to socially engage in the festival, even from outside its gates. The ACL Social Viewer represented one of the first mobile-centric campaigns done by Mass Relevance. In addition to allowing users to Tweet about their ACL experience (using the ACL hashtag) and upload photos, the ACL viewer also helped with parking, showcased who would come on stage next, and even alerted users of surprise performances. Since ACL goers tend to move around quite a bit, we pursued a mobile strategy that allowed users to carry the experience in their pockets—no matter how close they made it to the actual stage.

3. Turn spectators into active participants.

Mass Relevance powered the social media aggregation and curation display at Pivot Conference in New York City on October 15th and 16th. Similar to the mobile viewer for ACL, the PivotCon Social Companion not only allowed users quick access to all the social buzz around the conference, it also let users contribute to question and answer sessions by asking their own questions via Twitter. Content from the Social Companion was also shown in real-time on screens at the conference. When asked why he had been writing so much about PivotCon, one prolific Twitter user responded: “I can’t help it. I love seeing my Tweets up on the viz.” The Social Companion experience is intuitive, engaging, and far-reaching, attracting sponsorship from About.com. The October 16th panel featuring Mass Relevance CEO, Sam Decker, highlighted the versatility of the Mass Relevance/PivotCon relationship. Sam selected spotlight questions from his tablet to be featured in panel discussion in real-time. Sam’s spotlight with sophisticated moderation allowed for the greatest editorial control while still keeping the conversation fresh and interactive.

How have you engaged your audience at past events? Let us know in the comments below.

wgriggs@spredfast.com's picture

William Griggs

William Griggs is a Field Marketing Manager at Spredfast who specializes in pipeline generation.