Throw a spaghetti noodle at a wall. If it sticks, does it mean it’s done? No, it only means your noodle is sticky. Since the outside of a noodle cooks first, a wall test can give you the impression it’s ready to eat. Yet, to really know if a noodle is ‘al dente’, you must use one of your human senses – taste, proving that just because something appears to be one way doesn’t make it so. The same is true when determining how to go viral with brand experiences.
Just ask YouTube influencer Tana Mongeau. Feeling neglected by organizers of VidCon, an annual convention for YouTubers, Mongeau decided to launch a more intimate event, TanaCon, on the same weekend as VidCon. And, people loved the idea so much they came in droves. In fact, an estimated 15,000 more people than her venue could hold showed up. This made for long waits in the heat, even for VIP ticket holders who would only see the inside of TanaCon for a few hours before it was cancelled. Mongeau’s brand experience would go viral – but for all the wrong reasons. And, it all came down to consumers’ emotions.
Jonah Berger is a marketing professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and best-selling author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On. In doing research for his book, he learned that “emotional arousing drives sharing.” Whether getting people angry or excited, they are more likely to share. This is versus those who are content. It’s why Berger says, “Virality isn’t born, it’s made.” When considering how to go viral with brand experiences – and in the right way, a positive way – we must influence the outcome. And one article points out a critical element missing in the successful activation of TanaCon. That’s “experienced, organized people”.
An Inc. article breaks down common misconceptions of viral content. Instead of these wins being a product of luck, it says, they are instead a product of hard work. The efforts of marketers to create and polish a story that evokes such an emotional response to propel it viral is hard work. Still, they’re not guaranteed success. In the case of brand experiences, there is one human element often overlooked when planning how to go viral. That is the people on the front lines – the event staff.
On paper, event staff may appear to be just one detail in what is a tremendous list. But, when it comes time to launch activations, each individual plays several roles, many of which can help a brand experiences go viral. Consider these best practices for achieving virality with the help of event staff.
You may have heard about the fake pop-up shop Payless activated last year, dubbed Palessi. The PR stunt targeted fashion influencers, inviting them to the exclusive opening. Inside, a sleek, modern backdrop gave new life to Payless shoes, prompting guests to pay hundreds of dollars for footwear usually priced ten to twenty dollars. Though the setting helped tell the story, sophisticated brand ambassadors dressed in all black did the heavier lifting. They personified the “Palessi” brand to make it believable, while assisting guests with their purchases. Other event staff served as the media, capturing guests’ impressions of the brand as well as their surprise after the reveal. Without the right professionals to fulfill these integral roles to a successful brand experience, the stunt wouldn’t have had the same impact.
Did you know that emotions are contagious? Centuries-old research shows who we hang out with affects our emotions. Happy people help us be happier and feel better. And, more recent research reveals that “happiness spreads through social networks, much like a virus”. This allows people to be “infected” by those they’ve never met. That makes it important to know that experts believe negative emotions are much “easier to catch” than positive emotions. And, that shows the weight people on the front lines of brand experiences can have on the feelings consumers take away. This is especially true knowing that emotional arousing drives sharing.
An EventTrack report makes a critical point. Brands do not place as much importance on capturing and creating content related to brand experiences as consumers do. It reports 98 percent of consumers will create content at events and experiences, and 100 percent will share it. This is while only 35 percent of brands do the same. But, since 83 percent of consumers trust peers more than advertising, the consumer-focused content could serve marketers well. It would make social media advertising more relatable and give their brand experiences the means to go viral.
Some brands place a primary focus on content creation as part of brand experiences. Such was the case with clothing brand Forever 21. Its brand ambassadors staked out a mural to surprise people taking selfies, who then got to enjoy a makeover, use of clothing, and a full-blown photo shoot. Putting brand ambassadors and other event staff at the core of content creation helps encourage its development and sharing, while naturally setting the right emotion to convey.
The Inc. article also tells that viral content will have been given a “strong initial ‘push’ by its publisher” in several ways, including paid ads. But, after taking these measures, marketers are left to see how the brand’s “close circle” will respond. If they like it and share it, it should have a snowball effect. That makes it a wise practice to hire event staff with brand-relevant followings to help propel your event to go viral. When hiring professionals, these individuals will want to see your brand experiences succeed, knowing your success is their success.
At Elevate, your success is our success. That’s why we hand pick event staff for every brand experience we’re called to staff. Let us provide intelligent, capable individuals to take your marketing efforts to the next level.