Influencer MarketingMay 6, 2024

Event Tactics That Boost Reach By
May 6, 2024

Influencer Marketing

Event Tactics That Boost Reach
CES, the world-renowned consumer electronics and technological innovation showcase, has gained global awareness through strategic influencer marketing. Photo by Christina BeDell / Courtesy of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®

CES, the world-renowned consumer electronics and technological innovation showcase, has gained global awareness through strategic influencer marketing. Photo by Christina BeDell / Courtesy of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®

Today’s corporate and incentive meeting and event attendees are drawn to gatherings that offer compelling topics, unique locales and niche experiences. They also are impacted by influencer marketing techniques whereby meeting and event planners collaborate with influencers — celebrities or those who have established credibility and a large following — to promote events to a target event attendee demographic.

Using influencer marketing to promote events doesn’t necessarily have to involve celebrities. While it is a smart tactic, it can be out of reach for most event planners. Instead, they, along with event destinations, have found another valid approach.

Just last month, Tourism New Zealand launched a new Delegate Marketing Hub to help planners promote their events in the destination. The hub is designed to entice delegates to share their travel plans with images, videos and event technology — Gleanin, InGo and Snöball, Feathr and Hyperise, which are platforms that create customized marketing materials at scale on their social media platforms. The results can be very impressive, ensuring the success of an event.

In her 20-year career, Jennifer Dolnik, owner and president, event operations at Techne Events, has seen extensive evolution from where clients and peers are getting their information and recommendations.

“We have seen influencer marketing grow, particularly in the last five years, as a trusted way to get information and real-time reviews on hotels, venues and destinations. Many clients are now referring to things they have seen on social media that include creative, destination ideas,” Dolnik says. “These can sway a client in a positive — or negative — view by what they have seen. The social media sites that I’m seeing being referred to more and more are TikTok and Instagram. It’s surprising the demographic that are on these different platforms, too — it’s not just Boomers on Facebook.”

In positive ways, influencer marketing is getting attendees engaged much earlier than Dolnik has seen in the past. In her experience, she is seeing less budget being spent on traditional marketing campaigns and more focused online using influencer marketing approach.

“It’s become a more cost-effective marketing tool that sees immediate real-time analytics and reach,” says Dolnik, who also points to the benefits of bringing brand, sponsor and event awareness to a larger audience in a more engaging way.

“They can also bring an entirely new group of people that may have never known about an event or conference,” Dolnik says. “For many years, the standard route of marketing/promoting an event was a combination of print and word of mouth — which can only go so far. Now you have social platforms that are accessible to anyone worldwide and evoke emotion immediately.”

During a number of corporate events that Dolnik has produced in the U.S. and Canada in the past, there has been a strategic approach in inviting media, content creators and influential people to attend.

“This is a great way to further the reach before, during and after the event. Showing behind-the-scenes and the planning/set up piques interest for what’s to come, and when it’s over, helps continue the excitement,” Dolnik says. “The event itself is not the only exciting part. Leveraging it from different angles, before, during and after is what makes it feel different and more engaging. You can take an entirely new event and with the right influencer marketing strategy, put the event on the map. We have seen this happen time and time again.”

As founder and managing director of Spark Social Agency, Kait Shiels has worked with some of North America’s biggest brands and is an experienced advisor in the area of influencer marketing for events, including such high-profile events as Mobile World Congress and the Oscars.

Shiels says the first thing meeting and event planners need to understand is that influencers can range dramatically in scope and scale — from thought leaders with millions of followers on professional networks like LinkedIn, who shape industry trends and insights, to niche experts on YouTube or Twitch, providing in-depth content on everything from technology to education and beyond. “Corporations can leverage a powerful combination of talent to utilize the power of influencer marketing when it comes to supercharging events. Broadly, influencer marketing is becoming an increasingly pivotal element in the planning and execution of corporate meetings and events; its role in extending reach, building trust, engaging targeted audiences and creating compelling content is invaluable in a world that is largely driven by digital and social media,” Shiels says.

In Shiels’ opinion, there are so many benefits to utilizing influencer marketing for an event, but some of the key ways include enhanced event visibility and reach, targeted audience engagement and content creation.

As she explains, influencers can dramatically extend the reach of corporate events by promoting them to their engaged following, and these endorsements can attract a wider audience.

“Influencers often have global reach, which can really boost registrations and participation and they also allow events to target their marketing efforts more effectively,” Shiels says. “By collaborating with influencers whose follower demographics align closely with the event’s target audience, event planners can ensure their promotions reach the right people.”

Influencers also are content creation experts. Shiels points out that by involving them in corporate events, companies can benefit from another avenue of unique, high-quality content that can share key messages and discussions.

“When it is promotional materials, live coverage or post-event summaries that resonate with both the influencer’s and business’s audience, working with influencers keeps the event in the spotlight for longer and extends its lifecycle on chosen platforms,” Shiels says.

From a financial perspective, the draw of influencers can open up new sponsorship and partnership avenues for corporate events. Brands looking to capitalize on the influencer’s reach and credibility might sponsor events or segments within an event, leading to more innovative and integrated experiences that benefit attendees, sponsors and organizers alike.

So what corporate event that used influencer marketing stands out for Shiels in terms of effectiveness and success? Over the last five years, CES, the world-renowned consumer electronics and technological innovation showcase, has gained global awareness through strategic influencer marketing. “By engaging with influencers across various platforms — from tech bloggers on YouTube, to industry leaders on LinkedIn and micro-bloggers — CES has expanded its impact. Armed with highly engaged and diverse followings, these influencers provide authentic, real-time insights into the latest tech trends and product launches featured at the event,” Shiels says. “Their content amplifies the event’s visibility and enriches the audiences’ experiences, offering perspectives that bridge the gap between technology enthusiasts and the general public.”

Toni Ferrara, influencer events strategist and founder of Ferrara Media, specializes in influencer and VIP outreach for events. She says that in today’s dynamic market, influencer presence is as crucial as venue and decor.

“In today’s corporate world, influencer marketing is truly reshaping the landscape of meetings and events. It’s no longer just about traditional marketing; influencers are the secret ingredient for boosting attendance and generating excitement,” Ferrara says. “Especially when targeting Millennial, Gen Z or Gen Alpha audiences, influencers bring that essential ‘cool factor’ to any brand.” Ferrara always advises her meeting planning clients to allocate a budget for influencers and VIPs, as their impact on events is undeniable.

By partnering with influencers who authentically connect with their audience, companies can expand their reach and attract a more diverse and engaged crowd. Ferrara says these influencers leverage their social media platforms to build anticipation and excitement leading up to their events, creating a buzz that’s hard to ignore.

Influencers also have an amazing ability to shape perceptions and build brand loyalty. When a meeting planner teams up with influencers who vibe with an event’s values, Ferrara says it’s like magic — they create a buzz that attracts new attendees and keeps the existing crowd super excited for what’s new and innovative.

“By leveraging influencer marketing, you can tap into new, unique and aligned audiences. With traditional methods not hitting the mark like they used to, influencer marketing opens up doors to fresh leads and potential attendees,” Ferrara says.

Influencer Marketing Know-How

When considering an influencer marketing approach, especially for event planners looking to make the most of their resources, Shiels says there are a few key things to remember. Most importantly, define your goals clearly. Before launching an influencer marketing campaign, know what you want to achieve. Is it brand awareness, ticket sales or engaging a specific target audience?

“Having clear goals will guide your strategy and help you measure success,” Shiels says. “It is also really important to understand who you’re trying to reach with your event, as this knowledge will help you select influencers whose followers align with your target audience, ensuring that your messaging resonates and reaches the right people.”

It is also important to choose the right influencers and look beyond follower count. As Shiels explains, the most effective influencers for your event will have a genuine connection with their audience and a track record of engaging content related to the industry.

“Consider their reach, relevance and audience. Within this, event planners should leverage a mix of influencer types, rather than just focusing on mega-influencers,” Shiels says. “Combining micro, macro and nano-influencers can diversify reach and impact, tapping into various audience segments with different levels of trust and engagement.”

Dolnik adds that it’s important for meeting planners to spend time on social media platforms and find individuals that would suit the corporation’s brand, that stand for the same values. Follow a few individuals you feel would best entice and excite your audience, and reach out directly for a conversation to see how they engage.

“Recent studies show that people trust influencers more than traditional advertising. The same goes for how someone chooses to try a new product or looks for reviews on something they want to purchase,” Dolnik says. “Influencer marketing is a new way of having available the latest content, and its approach is built on relationships which feels more personalized.”

This could also relate to gifting, giveaways and incentives for attendees.

Dolnik also advises that planners do the research. Does an influencer have a strong following and engagement within their community? Do they align with the company’s message and brand? Think about the current attendee and the future attendees. You would want to make sure that you are thinking about the future; this strategic approach is important to consider.

“Don’t be afraid to spend budget on a good influencer campaign. A misconception would be that it’s too much of a financial investment,” Dolnik says. “While true in some cases, it’s good to remember that these individuals have worked hard to curate relationships and gain a trusted following. That did not go without hard work. Be clear about your goals from the beginning and invest in people’s worth. This in turn is a win-win for all parties and makes everyone feel valued.”

It’s also important to partner with the right influencer and ask questions such as where the source is coming from, their target audiences, following and impact they have. Don’t be afraid to ask for their insights and analytics, too. As Dolnik stresses, make sure you’re looking closely at their numbers.

“It’s no longer just about the number of followers, it’s about how deeply their community is engaged with their content,” she says. “You’d be better off having a niche, micro-influencer with a highly engaged community than someone with over-inflated numbers and low engagement. Plan ahead for your strategy before embarking on this influencer approach.”

Ferrara also suggests meeting planners ask, “Is there audience alignment?” Ensure that the influencers you choose align with the event’s target audience and brand values. Look for influencers whose followers match the desired demographic and whose content resonates with the event’s theme or message. For example, Mazda always hosts an event with influencers and they make sure their demographic and target audience of a mix of singles and parents are included.

“I also would suggest developing a comprehensive engagement strategy that goes beyond one-off sponsored posts. Consider collaborating with influencers on pre-event promotions, live coverage during the event, and post-event content to maximize engagement and reach,” Ferrara says. Be very clear with deliverables. Another suggestion would be to ask to own their content to be white-listed for ads or boosted content post event.

Also be sure to set clear goals for the influencer marketing campaign and establish metrics to measure success. Track key performance indicators such as reach, engagement, website traffic and conversions to evaluate the effectiveness of your campaign and make data-driven decisions for future events. “A planner should also be able to give these details in a post event wrap up,” Ferrara says.

And remember that one of the common pitfalls in influencer marketing is not allocating a sufficient budget. Influencers often anticipate a certain level of VIP treatment. That’s why Ferrara prioritizes accommodating influencers by providing Uber codes for local transportation and handling all travel arrangements, including hotel, lodging and meals, for out-of-state events.

“Another frequent oversight is the lack of clarity on deliverables outlined in a written contract. It’s crucial to clearly define expectations to streamline communication,” Ferrara says. “For instance, are we looking for one Instagram Story every week leading up to the event, followed by an Instagram reel recap, and a TikTok video afterward? Or perhaps it’s a collaborative Instagram post shared on both the corporate event and the influencer’s feed. Clarifying these details upfront ensures alignment and success for all parties involved.”

The Future Role of Influencer Marketing

Powerful influencer marketing strategy can engage audiences globally, making events more inclusive and accessible. And by using influencer marketing, corporate brands can combine in-person and digital experiences even further, creating cohesive experiences for all participants, regardless of their physical attendance.

“Influencers, at their core, are familiar with engaging audiences in diverse ways, and this could introduce new interactive elements, gamification or storytelling techniques that make corporate events more dynamic and memorable,” Shiels says.

Looking ahead, Ferrara says the future of corporate meetings and events will include expanding upon influencer marketing with artificial intelligence (AI).

“The collaboration between influencers and AI holds immense promise for the future of influencer marketing. AI-driven tools are set to revolutionize how brands and influencers connect with audiences,” she says.

“With AI’s ability to analyze vast data sets, brands can pinpoint the perfect influencers for their event campaigns with unprecedented accuracy. From predictive analytics to sentiment analysis, AI provides invaluable insights into audience preferences and behavior in real-time, enabling more targeted and personalized strategies.” C&IT


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