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Chris Cavanaugh of FreemanXP

Strong and getting stronger: Using social media to build brands

Chris CavanaughIf you have the feeling that the integration of social media and brand experience is a powerful combination for amplifying your message and engaging target audiences, then you are right. Our latest research indicates that well-defined social media strategies integrated with event portfolios continue to grow in importance for today’s leading brands.

Brand experience agency FreemanXP and the Event Marketing Institute have just announced the results of their joint study of leading event marketing and brand marketing executives: “The Viral Impact of Events: Extending and Amplifying Reach via Social Media.

SOCIAL MEDIA A MAINSTAY: According to our research, a majority of marketers acknowledge that attendees are increasingly participating in and sharing content before, during and after events through various social media channels. Furthermore, those surveyed believe that content co-creation and dissemination, through the right channels at the right time during the customer journey, have a direct and material impact on the success of their programs. And the importance of this trend is continuing to grow as marketers use social media to amplify content, allowing marketers to reach a broader audience for an extended period of time.

The study provides estimates of the social media impressions generated at past events, the most impactful social channels, and guidelines for enhancing social content.

This research proves what we’ve been saying all along: The integration of social and live marketing channels is becoming one of the most powerful tools for brand marketers today.

START WITH A PLAN With the right planning and a robust content-marketing strategy, brands can use the integration of social media and live events to engage audiences and extend the reach and frequency of their messages before, during and after live events.

Other key insights from the study include:

·                  87 percent of marketers surveyed believe attendees and visitors actively share event content.

·                  Approximately 50 percent of leading event marketers specifically budget for social efforts, and 97 percent expect to increase or maintain their spend levels in the next budget cycle.

·                  While a total of 70 percent of the top brands ranked social marketing related to event programs as “extremely” or “very important,” only 16 percent of the survey respondents say they are “very effective” at generating viral impact from their events and exhibit programs--and only 21 percent say they are “effective.”

·       Top brands that serve both B2B and consumer markets believe the most effective social media platforms are:

·                  Pre-Event: Facebook – 77 percent

·                  During the Event: Twitter – 73 percent

·                  Post-Event: Facebook – 55 percent

·                  Only 13 percent of B2B marketers believe their organizations are “very effective” or “effective” at generating impact from social efforts, yet almost two-thirds believe this marketing effort is a top priority (“very important” and “somewhat important”) to their businesses.

·                  Survey respondents reported the average social media impressions total is nearly 1.4 million per event, and for companies with over $500 million in revenue, the average is a significant 1.8 million per event.

Our research partner, the Event Marketing Institute, points to the importance of social media sharing as a component of face-to-face marketing.

“The research confirms that face-to-face marketing is one of the most powerful ways to amplify connections between brands and customers,” says Event Marketing Institute senior director of member services Kevin Ritch. “It’s just another reason that event and experiential marketing is growing as quickly as it is.”

Fielded in late 2014, the study surveyed brand marketers and event marketing executives at 100 large corporations, representing a range of industries, including information technology, health-care, financial, automotive and consumer products. The full study can be downloaded on the FreemanXP website. It also includes recommendations for brands on the best practices for social media engagement from FreemanXP.

Chris Cavanaugh is executive vice president of brand strategy and insights at FreemanXP, a brand experience agency offering a full range of marketing solutions from strategy and creative services through event/production management and measurement.

The Event Marketing Institute, based in Connecticut, serves the information needs of Fortune 1000 marketing departments and top marketing agencies, providing member companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, Oracle, Coca-Cola, Toyota, HP and others with comprehensive education, research, and analysis related to event and experiential marketing. 


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