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When’s the Best Time to Wow Your Audience?

When is the Best Time to Razzle Dazzle Your Audience?

For the tech market, September is one continuous progressive party of product, start-up, and user conferences, particularly for those residing in or near San Francisco. The month started with Apple and its CEO taking center stage to unveil the latest innovations in iPad and iPhone technology. This was followed by last week’s Dreamforce conference, which was marked by a large Celebrity cruise ship docked in the harbor and filled with business attire guests — not your traditional Hawaiian-print vacationers. This week, the start-up crowd converges upon Disrupt, a TechCrunch-hosted event. It all adds up to a lot of stage time for executives, with significant build-up… and for what? Well, for many companies, these appearances bring with them new orders, customers, and partners, very significant factors that they’ll need if they want to give an encore performance in 2016.

While these conferences always draw major crowds, there’s a significant digital component to these events that also has its own impact. Since Metaverse’s 2007 launch, we have run the digital engagement for many grand-scale gaming, entertainment, and tech events. It’s always interesting for us to see the reaction of the online communities. Some go as planned, with the hype and excitement leading to spikes in social engagement, enthusiastic sharing, and the placement of orders. Yet beyond all of those great experiences, we see plenty that invoke negative responses. In most cases, the reason is simple: The brand has not been mindful of the everyday needs of the digital customer and only shows up to celebrate or talk about themselves. Engagement can’t be one-way in today’s digital environment. Too many companies forfeit back-and-forth customer communications in order to present the next big unveiling. But customers aren’t afraid to let you know how they feel. This sort of launch can result in a few blemishes from neglected customers if their needs are secondary to the announcement.

So what should it be? We’re not advocating that events go away; they’re fun. Heck, we love a good launch event. Companies just need to be mindful that they incorporate a few key elements in their event planning. These cost-effective methods will razzle-dazzle your clients not just at the next big expo, but on an everyday basis.

On-demand expert teams. Sure, this may sound like a plug for Metaverse (which would be understandable), but the problem we solve is real. Just as companies hire extra help during events and launches, companies should assess its seasonal spikes and consider how a few extra engagement experts can make the difference.  For companies with dedicated resources for digital engagement, the addition of on-demand resources can ensure that the company is less susceptible to customer dissatisfaction due to poor or slow response times. As my recent LinkedIn Pulse noted, first impressions are everything, so the incremental cost may save you millions in the end.

Build your own event. Let’s admit it, we are a society obsessed with reality. So why wait until you have the billions in the bank to celebrate with clients or engage users? With tools like Meerkat and Periscope, the ability to open up a small event and make it public to a global forum is powerful. We tried this out for a major news event we had in Northern Ireland as we launched our new European Operations Centre, and it was well very received. And it certainly helped to build a sense of our global community.

Have the right attitude. This element may seem the least time-intensive and the least expensive, but it’s a key factor. It may be hard to imagine you or your executive team members demonstrating that compelling enthusiasm demonstrated in many stage presentations, but with the right training, you can make it happen. Since much digital engagement is done with written expression, training your team to know how to convey the right tone is important. (Don’t assume this to mean that we’re endorsing the frequent use of emoticons and Too! Many! Exclamation! Points!!! Just don’t. You still need the right tone.)

Give your customers some executive facetime. Customer engagement should be the mandate if you want to build long-term relationships, so get your executives involved in the routine. I’ve always been impressed when executives spend some time on the frontline, dealing with customer/audience engagement. Joining an online community group or responding to a social post can really make a powerful impression. It can also give your executive a pulse on customer sentiment.

Next time you’re in the that brainstorming meeting where the event is the end goal, challenge your team to ensure you have that same display of excitement and engagement in your everyday customer contact. It could the difference between an award-winning experience and a flop.

We want to hear from you. What techniques have you used to bring that spirit of a main-stage event to your digital communities? Share your ideas, please.

Mary Lex
SVP Business Development

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