JR Sherman is the CEO of RainFocus. With more than 20 years of leading highly impactful service and SaaS businesses, he is highly regarded for his expertise in SaaS, events, marketing and experiential marketing. Sherman was named one of the 25 Most Influential Executives by Business Travel News.
What Event Marketers Can Learn From TikTok
What started as an app to share videos of friends and family dancing and lip-syncing to popular songs and other mediums has quickly become an all-in-one app for trending news, tutorials and connecting with brands in new and interesting ways. The social media platform is a great example of how communication and marketing have changed in just a few short years, especially as more users spend time on the app. According to a Data.AI study, TikTok is expected to reach 1.5 billion monthly active users by the end of this year.
Some marketers have taken notice. According to a Hootsuite Social Trends Survey published this year, 24% of marketer respondents had considered using TikTok to reach business goals, compared to 3% in 2021 (a 700% increase).
Event marketing leaders can learn fundamental lessons from TikTok to better influence B2B event marketing. Just take a look at almost any trending video on the platform, and you’ll see that the most successful videos offer personalization, interesting content and an experience that is hard to replicate.
Repurposing TikTok’s “For You” page (FYP): Personalize and recommend better
In this day and age, event marketers sending blast emails instead of personalized correspondences are falling behind on providing thoughtful recommendations and possibly icing out current and prospective users.
In the event space, no two people’s reasoning to join an event, no matter the form it takes, should ever be considered the same. Some may join to learn a skill or witness exciting content, while another may want to have a chance to meet an industry leader, and some want a combination of the two. Event marketers must offer all of these aspects and do it exceptionally well (more on that below). An important aspect for event marketers is being sure to add a layer of personalization so consumers don’t think twice about the event’s purpose or why they should attend. Suppose a user engages heavily in collateral that teases a certain element like a virtual networking component. In that case, they must be able to access that networking option and receive reminders until the event takes place.
In order to achieve that synergy, event marketers must invest in better AI and machine learning models that integrate directly into the event marketing platforms. This will enable marketers to easily see attendee data and better understand the customer and where they are in their event journey.
The beauty of TikTok’s FYP is that it enables users to see content they want. Event marketers should enable those same experiences by offering consumers the options and opportunities that make the most sense for them.
Getting inspiration from TikTok: Lessons we can learn to improve content
While we should take inspiration from TikTok’s style of content, removing trivial details and diving into the “good stuff,” we shouldn’t cut speakers’ sessions to 10-30 seconds. But there are steps that we can take now to ensure attendees are being heard. Clearly, time is of the essence. Event marketers who have collected meaningful insights and analyzed attendee data can gauge how long an attendee may stay at one session before leaving for another, effectively gathering the level of engagement. While sound and video quality will always be important, low engagement can always be pointed back to the content. Thankfully, event organizers are beginning to listen. According to a recent Speaking Industry Benchmark Report from All American Entertainment, organizers are beginning to limit virtual presentations to only last 30-45 minutes. In-person event presentations should be a maximum of 60 minutes.
No matter the length or whether you’re hosting a hybrid, in-person or virtual event, content needs to matter for it to be considered successful among your attendees. Though event marketers can invest in various parts of the event, they also must remember what the value of the event is for users: B2B professionals attend events to network and learn. No matter how many frills you add to an event, it can still fail if your content isn’t meaningful and personalized to attendees, virtually, in-person or somewhere in between.
Content will continue to take on an increasingly elevated role for events. It won’t matter, however, if attendees aren’t able to find the content they care most about and then interact with it. It is important that events invest in relevant and thoughtful content that is personalized for each attendee based on their unique backgrounds, interests and even the stage of their customer journey with the brand. My mantra: It’s more important to have 10,000 unique experiences at an event rather than have an event for 10,000 attendees.
Recreating TikTok memes: Creating experiences no matter the physical/virtual location
As the world begins to open up again, there have been more conversations about whether or not virtual and hybrid events will cease to exist. Instead of focusing on what shape an event will take, we should consider what type of event will enable customers to create memorable experiences that best fit their needs and interests.
TikTok continues to find success as it asks its users to pick and choose what they want to experience, putting less emphasis on showing you what your friends/families and followers might be doing. Event marketers should do the same. It willl be imperative to create custom-tailored experiences that blend learnings with brand loyalty.
While it will always be easier to create an experience via TikTok, event marketers should feel the same way about creating an experience via events. By adopting the right event marketing platform, it should be just as easy to put on memorable events.
As event marketers, it’s important for us to look to moments and experiences to help reinvent the wheel in the industry. One such inspiration lies with TikTok’s success creating personalized, bite-size experiences delivered in memorable ways. As more events begin to pop up, we have to be smart and thoughtful around how we deliver and match personalized experiences with our customers, specific to their event journeys. That way, we’ll be able to strengthen and ensure a better customer relationship and ultimately, a long-term business impact.