TikTok isn't just a platform for sharing fun dance videos. It's an all-in-one app full of cooking tutorials, celebrity gossip, venture capital chatter... and fun dance videos. It even holds lessons for B2B event marketing.
The app was the No. 1 most downloaded app globally in Q1 of 2022. If you've happened to see The Washington Post's TikTok page recently, it's clear that communications are changing rapidly and organizations of all kinds are hard-pressed to keep up.
You don't need me to outline the importance and reach of TikTok. But there's no denying that the app is critical for information-sharing and culture-building, and it resonates strongly with people from all over the world.
No matter what "side" of TikTok you're on, we can learn fundamental lessons from it that can positively affect B2B event marketers.
Most TikTok videos are 10-30 seconds long, with a brief description, and they incorporate storytelling elements, such as music or other audio, to get their message across.
Of course, for B2B marketing events, which serve as a critical step in the customer journey, it's not realistic for a guest speaker to unravel the complexities we find in our industry in 10-30 seconds or to the tune of trending audio. However, content is critical to hosting successful in-person, hybrid, and virtual events.
Although event marketers can spend on the frills of an in-person event or experiment with various online capabilities, they must remember the core value proposition: B2B professionals attend events to learn and network. Even the flashiest event can fall flat if the content isn't of the highest quality.
Furthermore, time is of the essence. One positive of virtual events is that event marketers have collected meaningful insights on how long attendees might spend on a session before jumping somewhere else, and they can gauge their engagement level. Sound, video quality, and the like must be up to par, certainly, but low engagement nearly always has to do with content. Gone are the days when sessions at an event spanned hours each.
It's up to us as event marketers to package the highest-quality content in the most concise and digestible way possible if we want to ensure our event is an effective touchpoint in the buyer journey.
Event marketers sometimes consider automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to mean copying and pasting data into Excel. But today's event marketing capabilities far surpass that, and Excel is just the tip of the iceberg.
By instituting true machine-learning and AI models into event marketing platforms, attendee data can exist in a complex ecosystem that helps to understand customers and where they are in their journey. For instance, if a prospect clicks on a marketing email about topic "X" unrelated to the event at hand, that prospect should receive recommendations for a speaking session or panel covering topic "X."
From there, event marketers should be able to see attendees' real-time engagement data, the questions they asked during the event, and beyond—all important indicators for the sales pipeline.
It's often said that TikTok is "always listening," because how else would it know I was just at Home Depot buying summer plants and would be interested in gardening tips and tutorials? Event marketers should aim to yield that same reaction from attendees: "How did they know I'd be interested in the best demand gen tips for small businesses?"
There's been a clear fixation on the medium of events in the event marketing world rather than the experience itself. Is in-person better, or do attendees prefer the convenience of virtual?
Such questions are fundamentally flawed. It's not about the event, but rather about the customer and creating a memorable experience that fits their interests and needs.
TikTok broke away from Instagram and Facebook by placing less emphasis on friends and followers and making the experience about the individual user. When users open TikTok, it asks, "What do YOU want to watch today?" instead of "What are other people watching and doing today?"
Similarly, by creating a customer-tailored experience, it's more likely that takeaways from event content will last long-term and bleed into brand loyalty.
Creating compelling videos on TikTok is easy—so easy that seven-year-olds can do it. For event marketers, if they adopt the right event marketing platform, it should be just as easy to put on memorable events.
Even two years ago, it seemed unlikely that the Washington Post's 30-second TikTok video explaining the potential end of Disney's special tax status to the theme song of The Wizards of Waverly Place would garner 200K views, but it has, and that's how organizations are finding success. More important, users want to learn about pressing national issues through quick, easily digested content.
In the same vein, event marketers must meet B2B buyers with stellar personalized content at the right time if they want to create outstanding experiences that satisfy the desire to grow and learn as industry professionals.
As event marketers, it's time we take note of the elements of TikTok's success: bite-size, personalized content and memorable delivery. As event marketers, we now have the ability to match relevant content to unique customer journeys and deliver that content within memorable experiences to strengthen customer relationships and ensure long-term business impact.
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