08.03.2016

TO SHARE OR NOT TO SHARE; HOW THE LIVE EVENT IS EVOLVING

There are two types of people in life; repeat social sharers who communicate life experiences through their phones or tablets and covert non sharers those who prefer to experience life in traditional ‘real time’ away from the screen. So what does this mean for brands and rights holders looking to engage consumers or fans? Is there a way to keep both personality types happy?

Let’s consider the social sharers to begin with. On arrival at a stadium or the theatre for example, their first action is to see if there is free Wi-Fi available. They will then check-in, tag their friends in a photo, record footage as the event unfolds, or simply update their status.

Brands love social sharers. They rely on them, they create campaigns based around their previous habits, opinions and arguably the most interesting of all, they even use them as a way of measuring campaign success - how many likes, shares, downloads, interaction, website traffic, etc. has the campaign achieved? Brands accept the influence of the consumer, they also accept their key role in justification of sponsorship, advertising or activation spend. Quite simply, if a campaign doesn’t resonate with the target audience (hopefully supported by uplift in product and service sales?!) it will not be deemed successful.

For the traditionalists, i.e. the non sharers, on arrival at a stadium or the theatre, their first action is probably to take a moment to embrace the atmosphere, familiarise themselves with their surroundings and perhaps discuss their initial thoughts in person with the group they are sharing the experience with. This poses an initial problem to brands. How can they monitor any of these ‘private’ conversations? How can a brand determine success or potential areas to improve if they are unaware of what is being said? This ignites a different kind of power to the consumer and one that fortunately continues to drive brands to be more creative with their campaigns as they look to entice wider audience engagement. Brands have evolved to become fan-focused, in order to increase engagement, however there will still be those who prefer to put their phone down and live in the moment seemingly oblivious to the lure created from connecting with brands and building an online social presence.

It is unlikely that people will swap from being a social sharer to a non-social sharer (regardless of their preferred social media platform), although there may be more variance depending on the activity – I may be more inclined to share an experience from a rugby match compared to a theatre performance for example, but this is determined by my level of engagement with the specific activity. 

The first step for brands looking to appeal to both personality types is to encourage an attitude shift. We as fans or consumers unfortunately (or fortunately!) have to accept the commercialisation of sport and entertainment. If we want to see the best players at our club, enjoy quality products on offer, make the most of member benefits, have access to priority tickets or simply be able to watch our team or favourite show, we have to understand the need for our favourite teams, venues or brands to operate like businesses. Without a sound commercial business set up (and that includes sponsorship, corporate hospitality, broadcast rights, etc) clubs wouldn’t be able to buy those game changing players for example, which arguably would mean that the team wouldn’t be able to create those priceless moments worthy of sharing.

Secondly, we should consider whether technology can provide a solution. Perhaps there is a way of minimising the intrusion of people videoing and sharing content in real time? Whilst more relevant in the arts world, a form of a light reflection reduction screen would mean the audience could enjoy the production without enduring the glare naturally created by smart phones or tablets.

Or, does the responsibility fall back to the brand or rights holder?  Is there an opportunity for a brand to create more exclusive content for attendees via Apps, website downloads or even via iBeacons? The content could be shared in real time and would remove the need for attendees to take their own photos or record the production.

Issues with set-up time and an agreement to only share pre-prepared branded content is not however likely to be well received. Theatres or stadiums that section off a particular seating area, allowing or encouraging fans to create their own content, could keep the two personality types happy. You could even pitch the area as exclusive ‘ Priority Seating’ and therefore charge extra for these premium seats (if you are feeling brave and there is a confirmed appetite). Priority seating could also allow you to develop, broaden and enhance your own digital prowess by using (licence/ownership depending) and exposing a different authentic perspective to the match or performance that you may not have been able to capture previously. Not only would you get a new digital take on your event but you would also be able to reach and unlock new audiences who could be targeted with focused and bespoke campaigns.

We may also see the emergence of more of the ‘secret’ entertainment offerings such as secret cinema, secret restaurant or production shows like You Me Bum Bum Train whereby the art of discretion is of paramount importance in terms of keeping the experience exciting, exclusive and secret. A powerful concept that could continue to grow as people look for alternative forms of entertainment and brands look for creative ways to engage consumers and stand out.

We are seeing a shift amongst brands and rights holders who feel that it is their role and responsibility to create platforms that are fan centric. They need to create experiences that people want to talk about and share, and therefore their strategy should focus on encouraging as many people as possible to become brand advocates first and foremost, regardless of whether they are real time sharers or not.

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