The events of 2020 disrupted the status quo for many industries, but few have been hit as hard as those based on personal interactions and personal experiences. Museum visits are mostly interrupted, live entertainment (e.g. concerts) is a no-go, and sporting events are almost impossible for anyone who is not a player. As a result, brands have accelerated their digital transformation and recognized the impact of social media on the customer experience. With social media, brands can bring entertaining experiences into the homes of their viewers and keep fans busy until things get “normal” again.
To keep your audience engaged, you just need to have the ingenuity and insight to spin around and provide a meaningful experience. Sprout Social’s analytics and publishing tools can fuel that ingenuity, uncover those insights, and help marketers bring new customer experiences to life.
Interactive entertainment from the comfort of your couch
Large music festivals like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza have relied on social media entertainment for years and stream their shows. Now that everyone is stuck at home, artists and organizations are finding ways to make live streaming events more innovative, interactive, and accessible.
Recently, Visible, a new phone operator, in partnership with Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado Unpaused, hosted a three-day immersive virtual concert series featuring big names like Phoebe Bridgers, Megan Thee Stallion, Sam Hunt and more. Unlike other virtual concerts, fans could customize their concert experience and interact so that they really felt part of the audience.
Using technology from Visible, a new telephone service, viewers were able to vote for each artist’s encore song. And perhaps best of all, they could also send the bands and artists a message during the game, which was then projected onto the rock walls in the stadium.
Fans also shared their excitement and experience using the hashtag #VisibleXRedRocks, which made it easy for Visible to reach out to those fans later and encourage additional engagement and brand awareness.
A total of 8.5 million people attended the event, which was a huge turnout for the artists and a large audience that may have first heard of Visible during the event. With an analytics tool like Sprout, brands can measure the short- and long-term impact of these types of immersive events on brand awareness. Tracking branded event hashtags like #VisibleXRedRocks can also help brands pinpoint exactly which moments of the show resonated with attendees and apply those insights to their next live event.
The innovative approach to the concert series, the selected artists and the inclusion of their own technology say a lot about the Visible brand itself and will leave a lasting impression on the participants.
Audience-inspired events and content
The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is a local treasure and now a brand with fans around the world. During the pandemic, Wellington and his crew went from penguin friends in the aquarium to internet sensations. While it was closed to the public, the aquarium was open to penguins to explore, which was secured by their social media. It was social media entertainment gold. Since reopening, the aquarium has made sure that Wellington’s content is preserved to the delight of all of its new fans around the world.
Wellington, meet the belugas! 🐳 🐧 This weekend Wellington visited Kayavak, Mauyak and Baby Annik who were very curious about this little rockhopper. Belugas are animals of the northern hemisphere, so they would probably never see a penguin! pic.twitter.com/XrpF3BlKnu
– Shedd Aquarium (@shedd_aquarium) March 30, 2020
The aquarium has a regular schedule of events, but this year they are organizing and promoting virtual events on social networks for non-local followers to participate. The fanfare generated by the aquarium’s social content behind the scenes inspired a new online experience, Virtual Animal Encounters. Fans can still take a look at the animals on social networks, but if they want a virtual meet-and-greet with the animals in real time, they can do so from the comfort of their own home.
Good news: Due to popular demand, virtual penguin encounters have been extended by new times until August 22nd! From Tokyo to Chicago we had participants from all over the world.
Sign up now and meet the Shedd Penguins wherever you are: https://t.co/c9JMzplg3x pic.twitter.com/KWMG7Ng8VG
– Shedd Aquarium (@shedd_aquarium) August 6, 2020
Shedd Aquarium’s success is proof that social media is an excellent testbed for branded content and new initiatives. However, to understand the results, you need social analytics tools. With Premium Analytics from Sprout, you can do post-the-stage research to see what works on which platforms and what resonates with your audience. For example, a destination like Shedd Aquarium could create animal-specific tags for each of its posts. That way, they could look back on the tag report in Sprout to see which animals their audience loves the most and should therefore be included in their Virtual Animal Encounters series.
Live streaming of social media entertainment
Even after the pandemic ends, when companies reopen to the public, expect the virtual events to continue to stay strong. The convenience, cost-effectiveness, and ability to broadcast to audiences around the world cannot be overlooked.
In the Sprout Social Index ™, we found that 55% of social media marketers planned to include more live video in their 2020 strategies. This may not come as a surprise as almost every social media platform has launched its own version of live streaming, and the lack of personal experience in 2020 has made us crave real-time human interaction.
Instead of canceling, New York Comic-Con decided that the show had to continue live on YouTube. The event was free for fans around the world, and even if they missed the live stream, the videos and chat will remain available on the New York Comic-Con YouTube channel.
For marketers, an obvious benefit to starting up is that you get instant feedback from the viewers that you can respond to almost instantly, mimicking a personal experience. This experience is equally important for viewers and fans like the ones at Comic-Con, who are eagerly awaiting the answers of their favorite panelists in the live chat.
When your brand is hosting or sponsoring a live-stream virtual meeting, conference, or event, those in attendance will inevitably want to share takeaways and highlights with colleagues, friends, family, and others. Planning your content and planning ahead gives you the freedom to engage with the audience in real time.
Create a collection of content links, social handles, community questions, and other resources related to the event’s topics and speakers. Then use a publishing tool like Sprout to create social posts around those takeaways. You can either schedule each post to match the time of the speakers they are referring to, or save posts as a draft and publish when you feel the time has come. That way viewers can poke these resources or share them on their own social platforms, which in turn contributes to your social and marketing goals. This is also a great way to find out which points resonate the most with your audience.
New normal? Try the next normal
Using social media and virtual experiences to entertain, increase your brand value, and maintain profitability is not just the new normal, it’s the next normal. If you’re not sure how your brand can or should improve your social presence in order to better serve your customers, consult your social data. Almost everything you need to know about your audience can be found using Analytics. Look back at content with high engagement, reach, link clicks, or any other KPI that fits your goals and be inspired by your future social strategy.
As people continue to seek entertainment close to their home, a localized social strategy is critical to reaching the right audience, especially for businesses with multiple locations. These companies should also consider creating separate social media accounts for their different locations. Complete this free worksheet to determine if your business requires location-specific accounts.