The rising panic around the COVID-19 virus and the uncertainties that come with its level of transferability and mortality have stuck a stake in several marquee spring events. Some, like ShopTalk, have smoothly managed the hiccup, promptly rescheduling for a future date (made possible by taking over the dates for Groceryshop, a sister conference with a smaller audience that is being pushed out to 2021). Others, like SXSW, have publicly floundered with their cancellation plans while weighing how to mitigate both the risks of spreading the virus against the slew of speaker and sponsor cancellations that would adversely affect the experience for attendees who might choose to attend despite a virus scare. After a week of waffling, SXSW ultimately did cancel the 2020 event with the city forcing its hand, and the blowback for both Austin and conference will undoubtedly be felt for months and years to come.
While the reason for canceling these spring 2020 events is due to an unforeseen pandemic, it’s hard not to step back and look at the overall landscape of events and see a crossroads. Face to face is always going to be the gold standard for networking, but the strength of virtual platforms has rapidly expanded, thereby opening the possibilities of interaction around live events. The rise of thought leaders sharing content via TikTok, podcasts and Instagram has lessened the exclusivity offered by industry and entertainment events by increasing access. This digital evolution would continue to peck away at live events regardless of a virus scare, so how can savvy event producers embrace the duality rather than reject it at the expense of their event’s livelihood?
A look at NYFW
In its heyday, nothing was more glam than scoring a seat at a New York Fashion Week show in the Bryant Park Tents. The shift to Lincoln Center came with a loss of designers interested in showing and a more obvious deference to the whims of our corporate sponsor overlords. Socialites in the front row gave way to first wave (Tavi, Garance, et al) bloggers, eventually giving way to the cohort of influencers filling seats at venues that could only be referred to as tents in the most metaphorical sense. New York Fashion Week is not the only event that has suffered in magnitude as consumer interest has changed, but it is one of the most obvious.
The shift in events like NYFW popularity can be attributed to several factors: notably, a shift in industry requirements and changed consumer behaviors. Big designers no longer need to show on the runway for their collection to be seen, and as such the more interesting story has become what designers are doing to reinforce their presence on the scene without physically participating in the shows. Tanya Taylor has been showing her collection off-runway for a few years, but for Fall 2020 stretched her creative wings by showcasing her collection via a collaboration with four women comedians. The 2-5 minute videos allow the collection to be the main centerpiece to the storyline each comedian is central to, creating a zippy overview of this season’s prints and designs and cementing her status in the fashion scene even apart from the once requisite runway.
Inclusion over Exclusivity
If fashion brands are able to maintain their entire presence via digital engagement while simultaneously expanding their fan base, we feel festivals and conferences should at least have a significant enough digital component that an unforeseen circumstance like COVID-19 doesn’t completely derail the event from occurring. While there is no question that the preferred level of participation at an event like SXSW or ShopTalk is in-person, a baked in way to partner and share content and reactions could expand the reach of the festival even when there isn’t a wave of forced seclusion. Driving external participation also brings in an element of inclusion when people can’t afford or have physical limitations in regard to traveling. While some could argue this diminishes event exclusivity, we believe that it in fact creates an opportunity for tiered participation levels that incentivize more attendees and additionally expand monetization opportunities.
The cancellation and potential rescheduling of these two major industry events is going to have countless negative financial implications for many people involved. The independent film community is notably reelingfrom the loss of SXSW and the very real threat it has to the perpetuation of the event as a whole. An established digital component here would be particularly valuable as film is one of few areas where home access now rivals theater releases in compensation, if not quite prestige. As brands and event producers begin to pick up the pieces from the wave of coronavirus cancellations happening now, these takeaways around utilizing new digital trends and embracing a model that supports platform diversification will define in part how the conference and events industry rebuilds.
*Until we reach that euphoric hybrid digital/event state, here is a compilation of ways to help artists and event producers in Austin working to offset the financial losses of SXSW
In the wild, wild, west of social media marketing, you might be wondering how much should you be focusing your efforts on the influencer segment and what your spend should look like. It’s different for every industry, but social media budgets across the board arerising, seemingly with positive results for brands and independent creators alike. As such, we’ve developed some best practices and thoughts to keep under consideration when engaging influencers and using social media in your marketing efforts.
For the purposes of this blog, when we refer to influencers- we’re speaking in regard to creators who exist primarily on Instagram with a follower count ranging from 2,000 on the low end to just around 30,000 on the high end. A creator with this range of follower count is typically referred to as “micro-influencer” in the biz and based on the associated costs and ROI, we find this to be the most approachable and effective segment to engage for most brands. This is for several reasons, the first of which will be of no surprise, is cost.
Thankfully, as the social media industry grows, the science to determining how much brands should be paying influencers and how much creators can be charging for their services has evolved. According toLater,an Instagram marketing platform, a creator can expect to earn about $.01 cent for every follower they have- meaning an account with 10,000 followers can expect to earn about $100 per post. Fake followers can obviously affect this equation, but engagement is fairly easy to assess and is another key factor that bolsters our philosophy of engaging micro-influencers more frequently than paying big bucks for a one off post by a mega-scale influencer.
Tell me more, you say. Engagement rate can be calculated by averaging the comments + like count on any given post and dividing the result by the overall follower count. Multiply this number by 100 to see a digestible percentage. See handy dandy graphic below for a clearer (I think) visual.
Because that would be too easy, engagement rate isn’t the only factor to consider here because aside from ensuring you’re not working with a creator who has purchased the majority of their followers, you also need to be looking at other key factors to determine if this influencer is a good shepherd for your brand. These include, but are not limited to, brand fit, personality, and ratio of sponsored to original content. Unfortunately, there is no formula to plug in here as this is a little bit more of an art than a science.
Keeping some perspective around your brand and how big of an ask it is for the creator you’re targeting to work your product or service into their feed will help in answering these questions. Are you a natural fit, say, asking a food influencer to promote a probiotic juice, or is your service a little more dry in nature? If your brand is on the less glamorous side, you may have to get comfortable paying a little more and diversifying the deliverables; for instance interspersing stories and Live videos as a way to ensure your message and partnership comes through authentically.
Where are these perfect partners?
Finally, the last topic on deck in regards to micro-influencers is…how to find them. Accounts that hold your interest are seemingly everywhere when you’re browsing your own feed, but stepping back and taking a thousand foot view when you’re evaluating creators on how they could potentially relate to your brand can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack.
This is when scale comes into play- do you need one influencer posting 6 times over the course of a few months or do you need 50 concurrent posts from unique creators to help with a new launch? Dependent on your goals, there are any number of platforms that can assist you in collaborating effectively which is why it’s important to set overall campaign goals prior to beginning outreach.
If you’re curious about how a micro-influencer program might benefit your brand or how to get started laying the groundwork for a successful campaign, give us a shout. We’re happy to walk you through the process and help determine your next best steps as well as how it corresponds to your overall consumer experience.
by Melissa McNutt / originally published on LinkedIn
Summer is just around the corner and we all know what that means, right? Rosé all day! Errr, about that…For the last several summers we’ve been bombarded with a certain style of cultural cliche, one with a synthetic aesthetic that permeates social media and events created to be used on social- and if you’re feeling what I’m feeling, you’re over it. Like ourselves, consumers are sick of canned moments and lining up for engagements with a more genuine feel. Transitioning away from curated monotony and working to deliver more authentic content for your followers is a great way to stand out in a crowded space no matter which marketing channel you’re using to deliver your message.
Here are some thoughts on how to keep your brand messaging authentic rather than contrived:
Don’t be a clone
Summer events are hot, fast and fun and can give your brand a real boost if you’re picking the right places to activate. I’m a big fan of attaching activations to cultural moments to bolster brand marketing, but to really make this work requires some deep thought around execution. Nothing is a bigger turnoff than a sponsorship that blatantly lacks the context to tie your brand into an experience or worse, you look just like every other brand on site. You have to come up with a concept that is unique to the event you’re associating with and not an obvious rip off of something consumers will recognize. Tie into the event, but put your own spin on it and make sure you’re approaching the concept with a sense of humor and an appropriate level of self awareness.
Pick partnerships with shelf life
A well crafted influencer or fellow brand partnership is a great way to give legs to an activation, but you have to ensure the engagement rings true to both sets of followers as this is the audience you’re looking to convert. If you want to give a genuine feel to a partnership with an influencer, you need to agree on a set amount of guidelines that go beyond just promoting things onsite at events. Your partnership should extend pre and post event via channels like social media and any custom content they are publishing. When thinking about structuring your partnership strategy, be sure to factor in activating online and IRL and how you want that to look to ensure it’s an authentic partnership that resonates with consumers.
Engage on a genuine level
What motivates you to get out of the house on the weekend? Chances are, your Saturdays are consumed with socializing, parenting and dining out like most everybody else. But when I pull up social media, I’m inundated with glamorous, posed families and serene women embarking on wellness journeys and frankly it just ties in to my life less and less. Life is messy and brands can absolutely keep it real while selling a lifestyle. As a brand creating messaging, factoring in your audience to determine content creation can save time and money in addition to helping you stand out. There’s a way to sell an aspirational lifestyle without alienating your audience, it just requires thoughtfulness and authenticity. Your audience wants to relate to you and moments that are too magazine ready just make you look out of touch rather than genuine.
Authenticity in marketing is not a new concept, but learning how to spread it out over the channels you use to engage with consumers is something that can be a challenge if you’re stuck in a rut or falling down a rabbit hole of clichés. As you evolve your messaging, be sure to weave your polished brand persona amongst efforts that show you’re real people behind the curtain. Your audience is savvier than ever, and updating your experiential channels to incorporate genuine moments is going to result in more loyalty in return.
Melissa McNutt is a Co-Founder and Head of Strategy at One Two Collective, a consultancy that helps brands enhance their consumer experience. Prior to that, she was Head of Brand Experience at mixed reality startup Magic Leap and Head of Experiential at Samsung. Email her at email@example.com.
Doubling down on efforts to reach your customers as individuals is a smart way to stretch budgets and establish relationships.
by OTC Staff
What two evergreen challenges are faced by growing brands no matter the sector?
You’ve got it- budget and competition. Both are regular concerns brought up in initial client meetings, and there’s no silver bullet to eliminate them completely. Instead, we frequently recommend refocusing and doubling down on personalization in your marketing as a great way to combat these obstacles. Reaching customers in their inbox without a previously established relationship is pretty much a pipe dream, so what do you do to increase your brand’s reach to customers on an individual level? You need to personalize your brand’s consumer experience in a more holistic way.
It’s time to get busy. Rather than leaning into one channel, a holistic approach emphasizes utilizing a variety of resources to enhance every touchpoint consumers have with your brand and creating opportunities for them to do so. Email fatigue is at an all-time high and creating a more authentic experience to represent your brand will tell customers way more about who your brand is than an ad following them around on the internet. Settle in and let’s get personal on how to deliver more individualized messaging.
But I’m an influencer!
It’s not just a buzzword; it’s a lifestyle. Seriously, it’s probably only minutes away from being a college major because it’s totally a legitimate career and it’s not going anywhere. Why? People follow influencers they like, and as long as their opinions can be monetized, brands are going to work with them. And since influencers attract a following by sharing their personal opinions, influencer marketing is inherently personal. The scope of your influencer program can be as large or small as you want, but developing authentic relationships with your influencers is a great way to get bang for your buck because of their reach and because they’ve already done the hard work of cultivating an audience.
At the core of it, the influencers you want to be engaging are successful because they’ve developed a core audience of people who trust their personal opinions and that audience aligns with your target demographic. Revolve, the online retailer who could give a masterclass in creating an influencer program, relies on influencers to get customers to their site. Personalizing the brand, the lifestyle, and the clothes for their core audience has enabled them to develop credibility and amplified the message Revolve is looking to get across. This savvy positioning has resulted in their influencer program being responsible for 70% of all sales.
Let’s get experiential.
Experiential is everywhere and it’s hot. Being intimidated by a mega-trend is a normal reaction, but crafting unique experiences for your customers is something that good marketers have been doing natively for ages. Finding the tipping point for turning an observer into an active participant is the key to creating an experience that connects with your customer on a personal level in a way that a passive digital engagement does not. If you’ve stepped foot in a public space in the past five years, you’re likely aware that the core challenge here is thinking about how to get people to look up from their phones. The good news is, this isn’t as much about how big your budget is so much as your penchant for creativity and how well you understand the motivations of the demographic you’re going after.
Are you demo’ing at a chain of stores? What makes your guest experience different than the standard? Are you sampling in a local coworking space? How are people interacting with your product in the moment and what does their follow-up touch point look like? Try and develop an experience that gets these new potential fans excited about the next time they hear from you. Even better? Leave them so incentivized from your interaction that they initiate the follow up.
Larger experiences are a great way to establish a tentpole event for your brand and connect with your consumers in a uniquely personalized way. For instance, Refinery29 has done a great job of this in their 29Rooms pop up exhibit and is now rolling it out to more locations to deepen connections with consumers in more diverse regions.
A few tips:
Make sure you’re creating an experience around your brand that matches the tone of your overall outreach, otherwise you’re risking your credibility. If you’re not going all-out in any other capacity, it doesn’t really make sense to here, either. Also, don’t assume you’re hitting the right people just because you get a lot of traffic. The key to experiential marketing is creating experience that YOUR customer will enjoy, not just looky loos. Also, experiential marketing has become a defined marketing channel and to ensure you’re getting the most ROI standardize your data tracking so you can compare and improve your experiences over time.
It’s our first correspondence of the year and we can only assume you’re as excited about it as we are. If you’ve received this letter, we were in each other’s orbit in 2018. We worked together, sat by each other at an event, or you’re a brand or person we admire and we’re reaching out to make a connection.
If you haven’t recently, stop by our website and check out what’s new. Our 2018 was great. We formally launched, one of us had a baby (Hi, Rowen) and we worked on some really unique projects with brands doing interesting and special things in their respective industries.
Now, for why we’re here:
We’re sharing our takeaways from 2018 and insights for 2019 from the perspective of an industry chameleon. Thanks to our diverse expertise, we’ve imbedded ourselves in a wide variety of industries and we’ve developed a pretty unique grasp on what people and brands are doing to reach consumers and how those efforts are being perceived.
Since we work on all components of marketing off the screen, we pay special attention to how brands are expressing themselves physically and how they relate to our business pillars. See highlights below and click through to read the full content and see links to other worthwhile articles and insights.
Thanks! The One Two Team.
I see your micro and raise you a nano.
The word “micro” was as prevalent in 2018 marketing conversations as Bird scooters were, well, everywhere, but what did it mean? Simply, that brands discovered they no longer had to rely on the Kardashians of the world to get their products noticed. Turns out, influencers with as few as 2,000 followers could result in significantly more conversions simply due to authenticity.
So what does that mean for 2019? Good things for marketers. More authenticity, for one. Since believability is what actually sells, influencers will have to focus on storytelling when creating content which automatically elevates those with something to say. In turns, brands will be more easily able to select partners with the best ROI for their brand. Consumers will be rewarded, too, because not only will the advertising/content ratio start to work in their favor, less #FlatTummyTea is best for everyone.
OK, that’s all well and good, but what does an effective influencer + brand relationship look like? For brands just starting to dip their toes outside of the digital universe, influencers are a great hybrid option for ramping up brand awareness at a low cost. According to Tony Robbins (yes, that Tony Robbins), on average, it now takes a person 16 exposures to an ad before they take action- quite the leap from the four required just ten years ago. This article from his team succinctly breaks down how influencer marketing can add low cost exposure within your target market. Additionally, read through for more on key areas to consider when considering approaching new influencers or evaluating the effectiveness of those you already have engaged with your brand.
Overall, it’s clear influencer marketing is here to stay. In 2019, we think we’re going to see some great strides made in the market thanks to increasing transparency from brands and influencers, more storytelling contributing to authenticity and a deeper pool of quality candidates to pull from for campaigns.
It’s the retail-NOT-copalypse, am I right?
Retail is definitely not dead, consumers just expect more from retailers. Point blank. As shopping becomes more of instant gratification by clicking on a link, retailers are having to shift how they engage with their shoppers. Brands and commercial spaces spent 2018 learning that nothing is more important than the experience you provide. This not only includes the store atmosphere, displays and engaging with educated staff, but is expanding to the point of how a brand makes you feel. Are you investing in causes and experiences that matter to your consumer?
Well, once again it’s important to explore what that means to your brand, why it matters to your customers and why it should matter to you. Borrowing a point from the influencer section above, modern consumers have made it clear that advertising to them is a multi-touchpoint endeavor and a targeted ad campaign or site takeover just isn’t going to cut it on its own. So now you need to build out the story you’ve already started telling in the digital space. Bringing your brand into the physical gives people the unique sensory experience your brand deserves.
Now we’re in agreement that the retail experience for your brand is key, but where do we go from here? The answer is surprisingly obvious- keep it simple. In 2018 we saw the rise (and seemingly quick death) of the Instagram Museum pop up concept; i.e. creating a space that existed purely to be featured on social media. The lack of authenticity in these spaces is glaring and while there may always be space for the most creative versions of these like the Color Factory, for most brands and retail developments, sticking to the fundamentals – simple, organized and intuitive – will always be a better extension of your brand than a gimmick.
This on-the-nose Fast Company article explores other trends that will be emerging in 2019 in retail and how it will affect bricks and mortar as well as the path from digital to physical purchases. This article calls out an emphasis on sustainability as a brand trait that is becoming more of a requirement; we think this is just one example of how the consumers of this era have higher expectations of themselves and the brands they support. Set your standards high for yourself and then create an experience for your brand that is an extension of those high standards in every touchpoint that reaches your consumers, digital and physical.
So, is this the year we start a podcast?
As emerging technologies continue to permeate our lives and influence how we interact with one another, it’s only logical that it would transform the way we consume thought leadership content. Podcasts are nothing new, but as they’ve become more mainstream, it has become easier for brands to align with smart content that lends authenticity to their product or service. This approach is twofold as brands can participate in the podcast ecosystem as either on-air talent or by purchasing advertising around existing series and hosts that fit with their brand goals. Additionally, as data from the platforms hosting podcasts becomes more refined, brands can rely more on podcasts as another piece of their storytelling arsenal.
So how does developing the thought leadership arm of your brand via participating in podcasts enhance your storytelling efforts? The Atlanta division of the American Marketing Association published a white paper in 2018 defining the three main components of brand storytelling as authenticity, evolving your approach to marketing, and exploring emerging technologies as an extension of your brand. Understanding who on your team is articulate enough to converse regularly and with authority contributes to the multilayered story you need to provide consumers. Consider it one of the multiple touchpoints we discussed above required to reach your audience.
Fine! If Spotify’s leaning into podcasts, we can too. Or at least explore the idea that effective thought leadership doesn’t exist in the same old vacuum it always has. Whether you’re inclined to launch your own series, guest host or advertise with existing series- the preparations for success looks similar to other thought leadership platforms. It’s also perfectly acceptable to take the thinking behind our logic with podcasts here and apply it to the emerging technology that makes the most sense for you. And luckily, there’s a lot of it. Community building? Voice powered services? Thought leadership is a space that yearns for innovation and rewards preparation.