Get Real: Adding Virtual Layers to Your Reality
Some people might bemoan the age of distraction that our smartphones and social media has ushered in. You can go to a restaurant and see someone taking a picture of food, or you can go to a happy hour and see people looking at their phones half the time. But I'm not worried about it. I don't buy that the kids are losing the ability to hold conversations, and will end up living in Matrix-style virtual reality pods or Inception dreams. I view all this new technology as an additional layer of interaction, and more interaction is a good thing.
I think people will always need face-to-face interaction. You could probably send a Tweet out to several thousand people and get less conversions than you would from having an event with 20 people in your store. If you have those 20 high quality people there, why would you not give them every opportunity to interact with your brand as well? Instead of "replacing reality" let's call it "augmenting reality." It looks like Google thinks that's where we're heading--just check out Project Glass.
I've posted some tips about how to Tweet at a trade show, and a lot of those ideas can apply to events you're hosting. You should have an event specific hashtag, and promote it before the event so anyone who can't attend can still follow along online. We have used free websites like TweetChat and Twitterfall on different occasions to create live Tweet boards for our events. Either one is very easy to set up, and it reminds your attendees to share what they're seeing.
Once a Twitter board is set up, it runs itself, but how about having someone cycling through Instagram photos or Vine videos on a screen? There are so many options for broadcasting content from mobile devices to TVs, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to set up a few. Schedule a few updates to go out ahead of time, so you're not wasting your time during the actual event. You can use free websites like HootSuite or SocialOomph for that.
Face-to-face is still going to be where you make your best deals, but don't pass up on these extra opportunities to augment the relationship your customers have with your brand. People want to share their experiences--and we know that's a reality. Now let's give them something to talk about.
Related story: How to Find New Customers Using Twitter Searches