Pre-recorded entertainment is everywhere, from what’s on television to the endless videos you may scroll through while browsing social media, but it does not replace active interactions. All major social media companies have integrated live streams into their platform, and this shows the desire for live and interactive events.
Businesses can learn from this trend. The 2020 lockdowns compelled innovation to take place in the virtual event space, and the potential of business growth is marked by recent virtual event success.
The Adobe 2021 virtual summit hosted over 50,000 companies and drove over 20 million video views. These events can do more than just drive people to your business, they are an opportunity for people to learn and express what your brand is all about.
What is brand advocacy?
Think about some logos you may have around your house. A water bottle, a bumper sticker to your gym, or perhaps you have a jersey from your favorite sports team. It is likely that you talk about the brands behind these items, and that word-of-mouth is brand advocacy. Think about who interacts with your business.
Customers or clients are probably the most apparent interaction that comes to mind, yet they aren’t the only group. Staff members, business partners, and even content creators (influencers) are all additional resources who can be brand advocates.
Your staff have a unique perspective on your brand and will share their personal experiences with their friends and loved ones – they may even make social media posts about it. Business partners will likely promote your brand through affiliation or collaboration. Content creators will likely talk about their experience with your brand and or showcase your product or service.
Use virtual events and membership sites to nurture brand advocates
Patreon, a website that allows users to support content creators of their choice in exchange for exclusive benefits or content for creators, currently has over 6 million monthly active patrons.
The extent to which people advocate for a brand varies from person to person, so it is paramount to invest in the relationships of your current and future advocates. Nurturing these relationships helps to ensure they continue to support and promote your brand. Virtual events and membership sites are a great platform to reward your brand advocates.
What will your audience gain from the virtual event? This could be exclusive content and/or materials like coupon codes, party favors, or a guest speaker. Think about how this experience will foster your brand’s relationships with its advocates.
Regardless of who is attending, it is paramount to keep your audience engaged, and there are various strategies you can use. Some questions to reflect on include, did the attendees feel cared for? What will they share with others about the event? Were they engaged? Was there something to look forward to?
How will you make the event come to life? There are steps you can take to plan an event, and with more and more virtual events popping up, it is in your best interest to create an event on par or better than what is already being offered. A great resource to help your vision come to life is to hire a web developer. However, most developers working today have very minimal experience, so make sure any candidates you consider have a portfolio to look at to see if their work is a good fit.
How to promote brand advocacy
Modern forms of communication are plentiful, and people love to talk irrespective of if the news is good or bad. When it comes to your brand, how and what will people be talking about?
Address your customers by developing hype around your event. Tagging and unique hashtags are a simple and effective way for people to advocate for your brand. It makes it easy for people to identify your brand and what your brand is about. Party favors like exclusive deals, merchandise, content, or meet-and-greets all serve as things people can enjoy and later talk about.
If your staff and partners aren’t advocating for the business they are affiliated with, why would a customer? Workers and business partners are valuable advocates because they have an inside look at how your company operates. You want to make sure you enrich their experience with your business. How can you reward your staff?
There are a variety of fun activities or prizes that can fulfill this goal. For business partners, think about how you can harmonize your work together. You could give them ad space and/or provide affiliate links and/or discount codes to your partner’s businesses.
How to build influencer brand advocacy and encourage customer brand advocacy
Social media personalities are also consumers and can reach niche audiences. Grow your rapport with influencers by inviting them to a virtual event as a guest, guest speaker, or consider putting on an event just for them.
Think about what value you can provide for influencers - affiliate links specific to the influencer or event-specific discount codes, exclusive products, early access to content, networking opportunities, and many of the same strategies used for customers. Keep in mind, the content influencers create is the main way they interact with their audience.
Reputations vary from influencer to influencer, and the more trustworthy a creator, the more likely the audience will follow their lead. For example, a good review, especially from a creator they enjoy, will influence their opinion on a product and could lead them to purchase it.
Even better is if people can see creators use the item they talk about; however, it does not have to be over-complicated. Use of a hashtag and encouragement to use the hashtag can help an influencer grow brand advocacy among their followers.
A well-rounded security plan can help prevent a bad reputation
Hackers will go to great lengths to ensure their payday, and anything on the internet is subject to scamming - this includes your virtual event, its attendees, and your business. A breach in security can cause distrust in your brand - remember good or bad news is still news.
There is no fool-proof method to stop scammers, but a robust defense can increase security. The latest method to improve cyber security is to add encryption through a virtual private network, or VPN. According to cybersecurity expert Ludovic Rembert of Privacy Canada, always go with a low-cost VPN over a free version.
“No VPNs that are completely free should be used or trusted,” claims Rembert. “A lot of free VPNs will boast fast speeds but none of them are going to have as solid of infrastructure as the one you pay for. If you do find a fast one that compares to a regular VPN service it won’t compare in pretty much every other way. There are many cheaper speedy options.”
Virtual events provide opportunities for you to build community with your staff, business partners, customers, and influencers. Your events can build brand buzz, cultivate brand advocacy, and reward your advocates. Acknowledge what type of news you want about your brand because the news is what people will talk about - including your advocates.