by Daniel Burstein
, Director of Editorial Content, and Dr. Liva LaMontagne
, Editorial Research Manager
For 15 months, between January 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015, Tagkast collected data about customer sharing of branded photos from 2,398 live events with its clients. The events occurred in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Australia. Event size ranged from a few hundred to hundreds of thousands of attendees.
The types of B2C and B2B events included concerts, home and garden tours, fundraisers, bar events, sporting events, festivals, auto shows and conferences. The majority of events were between four and 10 hours long in duration. At each of the events consumers had the opportunity to take branded photos on a tablet and then share those branded photos to either email or social media.
Click here to see a printable version of this chart
On average, concerts and music events (53%), fundraisers (51%), bar events (50%) and recreational activities (50%) achieved the highest sharing rates — approximately every other participant decided to share his or her photos with somebody in their social network.
On the other hand, home and garden events/tours and conferences and expos had the lowest average sharing rate — roughly one in five participants (22%) shared their photos from these events.
Social sharing takes more than being at the right type of event
While the average social share rate in the above chart can give you an indication of which events are more or less likely to help you amplify your brand on social media, the biggest lesson is in the range of social sharing rates. The ranges for some event types are massive, especially for conferences and expos (from a low of 11% to a high of 61%) and bar events (from a low of 23% to a high of 80%).
The most shared sporting events had even more social sharing (80%) than the most shared concerts, and the least shared bar events had less sharing (23%) than the most shared home and garden events. This should be encouraging to every marketer reading this article. Sometimes marketers feel like they are wasting time when forced to engage with events that have been sponsored or planned for reasons outside of a direct marketing KPI — community or business relationships, a bigger partnership with a spokesperson or even the personal relationships and predilections of business leaders.
However, the types of events your brand sponsors, attends and produces do not have to limit the social exposure your brand receives from that investment. In other words, you can still get marketing and brand-building value from events you didn’t plan to get your brand involved in.
For example, the brands that are netting an 80% social share rate at bar events are clearly doing something better than the brands netting a 23% share rate.
This discovery led us to explore the underlying reasons for differences between and within event types, and how marketers can maximize their events’ social sharing potential.
Why do events differ in social shareability?
According to Joe Matthews, CEO, Tagkast, it’s not necessarily true that people are reluctant to share photos from the least shared events. He explained that the least shared events most likely had not made social media a core component of their customer experience and part of their event strategy.
As a consequence, attendees might have enjoyed taking their pictures at home and garden tours, for example, but did not receive a clear call-to-action to share their pictures.
"A hashtag, for example, can work as a call-to-action but, since it is passive, most of the time it is an afterthought," Matthews said.
Bryan Kramer, CEO, PureMatter, and author of Shareology: How Sharing is Powering the Human Economy
, compared social sharing to a wave in a sport stadium. He explained that social sharing is cyclical in nature, and it’s not always possible to predict what people will share at a given point in time.
However, you can develop your community on social media over time, and then reap the benefits of them sharing.
"On social media, they think something will go viral because the art is beautiful or the science is full of deep analytics, but at the end of the day it really takes time to build the community," Kramer said.
Regardless of the type of event that might be best suited for your brand’s audience, we have compiled five tips to help you enhance your event’s social reach.
How to increase your event’s social reach potential
- Link your event to a trending topic
Kramer told us that events can jumpstart social sharing around their brands by growth hacking, or taking advantage of a trending topic with a unique and memorable message pointing back to their brand.
"To be the first to piggyback on a trend or topic requires judicious listening, but it can pay off in spades," he said.
- Create memorable experiences
"Consumers are more likely to share if they’re excited about an experience," Matthews said, adding that, "the most shareable photos are those associated with a memory. By creating interactions — whether it is taste testing a beverage or test driving a car — event marketers can foster relationships to therefore drive social media engagement."
- Ask event participants to share and make it easy for them
As an example, Carole Martell, Marketing Manager, Door to Door Organics, mentioned that the online organic food retailer provides a photo booth and hashtags to promote social sharing of their events among their customers and potential customers.
Similarly, Matthews mentioned that event photographers can encourage guests to share a photo to social media right there and then.
- Provide incentives to share
"When consumers share branded content on their social media pages, they positively endorse your brand and should be rewarded," Matthews said, advising to offer incentives like 50 percent off a purchase or a gift card for those that share branded content.
Martell shared a success that Door to Door Organics had with using the opportunity to win a ticket as incentive to share. The team partnered with the Cleveland Zoological Society for their Twilight at the Zoo event.
When Door to Door Organics shared the event on Facebook, 105 people tagged their friends in comments to win a ticket for themselves and that friend, increasing the reach to over 1,800 people on Facebook. This post also showed up in the sharer’s feed, and increased reach even further.
- Provide post-event recaps of the fun
"A photo album, Instagram posts or a blog is a great way to keep people engaged after an event has wrapped up," Martell said.
She shared that when Door to Door Organics hosts its Customer Love events, where customers can sample the company's local artisanal foods, it invites customers and prospects back to its online shop to follow-up and purchase the products that were their favorites. The team also posts all the recipes of the dishes they served and photos of the event on Pinterest.
Related resourcesSubscribe to MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week
— get the data and discoveries you need to better serve customers and improve results, delivered to your emailThe Most Social Events for Brand Sponsors
(Research report from Tagkast)Door to Door Organics Getting your customers to sell your product for you
— interview with Cambria Jacobs, Vice President of Marketing, Door to Door Organics, in the MarketingSherpa Media center at IRCE 2015
Watch all of the exclusive interviews from the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2015Shareology: How Sharing is Powering the Human Economy by Bryan KramerEmail Marketing: Pinterest-focused email campaign draws a 124% increase in social sharing Social Media How-to: 3 ideas for building engaging visual social media Social Media Marketing: How a small e-commerce company attracted 293,000 Facebook fans
Cambria Jacobs, Marketing Vice President, Door to Door Organics, will be speaking about how it grew its social media fan base 600% in 18 months at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016