Events are a core part of many businesses marketing plans. And for good reason. Events offer a unique opportunity for direct interaction between brands and their audiences. A chance for brand personality to shine through from those representing them. When done well, they can help develop strong relationships with clients, prospects, partners, and even employees.
In the right context, social events are the perfect opportunity to really grasp and amplify that opportunity. By providing a more relaxed atmosphere social events allow all parties to let their guard down and interact on a more human level. In turn, this allows your invitees to build positive relationships more easily with your brand while simultaneously giving you better insight into your audience and what makes them tick.
Back to Social Events
It’s been an interesting couple of years in events with the pandemic bringing in-person interaction to a grinding halt. Thankfully we’re now able to get back to meeting face-to-face, so there’s never been a better time to celebrate with a social event.
Whether that’s bringing your team together to thank them for their hard work throughout these tough times, or simply taking the opportunity to get back in front of your clients and prospects, it’s worth considering hosting a social event right now.
As with any marketing activity, if you’re considering a social event, it’s important to keep your objective in mind while you plan. A social event’s objective will be linked to the audience you have in mind, but should fall largely into one of two camps:
- Brand building – for customers, prospects, and maybe your industry partners. A social event is a great opportunity to demonstrate your brand values and personality. You can leave your attendees with a fantastic impression of who you are and what you stand for.
- Team building – social events are a great way to develop internal relationships too, so they’re perfect for your employees while cementing your brand values and culture.
If you’re planning to run a social event, make sure that you keep that front of mind throughout. If you're inviting client or prospect audiences, you may find yourself veering toward more of a traditional sales and marketing angle, tempted by those invaluable opportunities that events provide to turn them into a pitch… but be warned! If that’s not what people have signed up for then they’re going to feel duped and be left with a bad taste having attended your “social” event.
Make sure that everyone involved in the planning, running and attendance of the event understands what the objective is and that hijacking this for sales messages is off the table. You want no chance of your attendees feeling like they’ve been lured in for a free drink only to be bombarded with the hard sell like something from the sales playbook of a 90’s vacation timeshare. Be prepared to talk about your product or service, of course, but consider only doing so when you’re engaged in conversation with your audience, and it comes up naturally. Larger product or sales-led events may have a social element, but if this is the case, make sure you market this honestly. People who feel like they’ve been hoodwinked into a sales pitch aren’t likely to part with any money and, even worse than that, will associate that feeling of betrayal with your brand. Don’t do it.
If you’ve decided to run a social event, you may be wondering what you should actually do. Again, the content of your event will depend upon the audience you’re inviting. Think about activities that could entertain or excite and, where appropriate, something that will align with your brand values. You have to create something that is enticing enough for your invitees to attend in the first place, and that delivers on that enticement by leaving a positive lasting memory. That memory will be tied to your brand, so make it count so try to come up with social event ideas that work for your brand and stand out.
Corporate Social Events for Customers and Prospects
Consider the demographic of your target audience when deciding what sort of activity to offer at your corporate social event.
If your brand is young and funky consider something equally as young and funky to do – something like corporate hospitality at a gig or maybe even running your own mini-festival. If your brand’s a little more refined and elegant, then reflect that in what you offer – perhaps a dinner, drinks, and entertainment at a well-respected hotel, a Thames River cruise, or a well-known after-dinner speaker.
Think of your audience personas and how, typically, they might want to spend their time. Better yet, ask them! Include a focus group in your planning process or run a client-wide survey to understand what really resonates, then give the people what they want!
Internal Social Events to Reward and Excite Your Staff
After what has been a long hard slog through the pandemic for many, and an uncertain time for the rest, why not celebrate the chance to reconnect with colleagues by running an internal social event.
Since the start of Covid-related lockdowns, the jobs landscape has changed dramatically, with many roles shifting to become much more based from home. As the benefits of remote working have been felt by both employer and employee alike, this has continued even after restrictions have eased. As a result, there may be people in your organization who have yet to meet many of their peers and employees who had previously been office-based missing that crucial social interaction that working in the same physical place provides. Running an internal social event can be a great way to re-establish the team spirit and introduce new starters to the rest of the business and your brand culture.
Social events for internal audiences could include a range of activities, from team building days and interactive games to a much more relaxed evening of drinks and entertainment. For internal audiences, social events may form part of wider business events, such as a company conference. The social element can provide levity and help break up potentially a whole day of company updates into more digestible chunks or give staff the chance to let their hair down and unwind with colleagues afterward. Again, the positive impact of having more of a relaxed interaction can’t be downplayed and can help develop strong internal relationships between peers across all levels of your business.
And just like corporate social events for clients and prospects, don’t be afraid to survey your audience to find out what makes them tick and what type of event is best suited for them. Just because Jim from the event planning team is a huge sports fan doesn’t mean everyone else will be happy going to watch a game. Taking the time to include your internal audience in the planning stage of your social event demonstrates that you’re listening and want to empower your workforce. Such engagement will give you greater buy-in and a better chance of hitting those objectives.
Don’t Half-Bake it
The important thing to remember with any type of social event is that it’s just as important as any other event you might run. In fact, from a brand and relationship-building perspective, it can be more important.
With that in mind, it’s imperative that you put just as much effort into organizing and running your event as any other in your calendar. Even if it’s “just” a relaxed evening of food, drinks, and entertainment, you need to make sure that you employ the same methods and put in just as much effort.
Thankfully, a great in-person event management solution can help you manage everything end-to-end, from initial communications and integrated surveys, through delegate management and on-site registration, through to post-event comms and feedback.