Marketing & Data

How your event can produce engaging, trustworthy social media content all on its own – via your visitors

Zilla

Who am I? I’m a twenty-something from north of London, a singer in a semi-pro rock band with a penchant for puns and Japanese food. I have a day job but I rarely mention it. I fill my spare time with all kinds of fun, social activities and I’m in a long term relationship with someone brilliant and interesting.

This is me – as the sum of my many social media accounts, and since I’m not in the habit of making things up, it all happens to be true. It is, however, a heavily filtered and idealistic view of my life. It’s true that I play music – but what my Facebook account won’t reveal, is that it’s carefully balanced with a career that I take very seriously. I have to carefully construct my 140-character wisecracks before they hit Twitter.  The visits to Japanese restaurants and the good times I post to Instagram aren’t as frequent as they are made to seem – and my partner? Well ok, she’s perfect – and saying that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she may well read this article.

I am projecting a selective digital persona – and I’m not really doing this consciously. The most interesting, exciting and vibrant parts of my life end up on social media, and I simply don’t post about the boring bits because I don’t feel compelled to share them with the world. Millions of people are doing this every single day, and millions more are reading, engaging with and trusting all of this personal content.

This is something that was brilliantly demonstrated by 25yo student, Zilla Van Den Born, who recently took a five-week trip around Asia… while sitting in her bedroom in Amsterdam! Using a few props, some handy Photoshop skills and the right social media behavior, she successfully convinced her family that she had been to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos! The people who were closest to her didn’t think twice about the authenticity of what she was posting.

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One of Zilla’s Fake Holiday Snaps

Take your visitors for example. Why did in excess of 100,000 people turn up at MCM Comic Con, ExCeL London – having put blood, sweat and tears into their lavish costumes and each fill their Facebook pages with hundreds of “selfies”? Why did 60,000 people pay £53 to see the 30-year-old ‘Back to the Future’ at Secret Cinema in the summer and then cause #secrethillvalley to trend with thousands of their photos and comments? Why do SO many delegates at your B2B conference feel compelled to share snippets of your speakers’ wisdom via Twitter and LinkedIn? (I’m looking at you, fellow #eventprofs!)

#secrethillvalley

#secrethillvalley

It’s all because people want to share great things, and thus build a great online profile. Your event content and experience is no longer limited to what happens on the day (and subsequent word of mouth) – it is serving as tangible content for your visitors to add to their carefully-curated digital persona.  If you deliver that exciting, interesting, and vibrant experience that makes people want to say ‘I was there’ – you’ll become part of your visitor’s story.  Be boring and you won’t exist at all – and the social impact of a negative experience is a post for another time.

While we may tend to view social media as something our marketing team generates – some of the real power of social lies in visitor-generated content that you do not control, you did not encourage and may never even be aware of. The next time I post photos myself having a great time at a classic car show, this part of my story will be more compelling to the people I influence than any marketing message. As long as the Wi-Fi works and the experience is great, why wouldn’t I post about it? If you’re lucky, I might even mention the name of your event.

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