With more than 7.5 million followers on Twitter and millions of likes to his Facebook posts, Ashton Kutcher is definitely a social media heavyweight. Details magazine, in its September issue, also described the actor who played Kelso in "That ’70s Show" (and recently replaced Charlie Sheen in "Two And A Half Men"), as an “oracle-in-training” on the future of tech.
In the article, Kutcher prognosticates that the next big wave will be “no-touch” technology: “high fashion bracelets that track your health. Your movement. Your sleep. Your activity.”
That future, it appears, has already arrived. At an event called Espacio held earlier this year, our partner agency in Mexico, Levytation, used coded bracelets to enable attendees to update their Facebook pages with a mere flick of a wrist. With a third of the 15,000 people in attendance outfitted with bracelets, Levytation created a ripple effect online that is estimated to have reached hundreds of thousands of people.
The blending of the in-person and online experience represents an opportunity for marketers to get more bang for their buck from special events -- before, during and after.
Most marketers realize the power social media tools like Facebook and Twitter offer for building buzz about concerts, conferences, parties, etc. Facebook invitations are a great way to both spread the word and provide an individual page to link back to from all other social networks.
Twitter hashtags allow attendees to live Tweet an event, letting all of their followers know where they are and what they’re doing. By following these hashtags, people not in attendance can monitor, and even participate, in the virtual conversation. Just be sure to assign a specific hashtag for the event far in advance and include it in all promotional materials. You can jumpstart the online conversation by assigning someone from the organizers or its PR firm to Tweet live. Another way to encourage live Tweeting is to set up a large screen to display all the Tweets that include the event hashtag -- some people will Tweet just to see their post appear on the screen.
While Twitter, and even Facebook pages, can be updated on the go, thanks to mobile apps, the easier you can make it for users to reach out to friends, the more likely it is to happen.
Levytation made Kutcher’s prophesy a reality at Espacio by inviting attendees to register and receive a free radio frequency ID (RFID) wristband. The wristbands, which were unique to each guest, were linked to their personal social networking profiles. Throughout the event, guests could simply swipe their wristband at kiosks located throughout the venue if they liked what they saw. Doing so automatically posted specific messages, unique to each station, to their Facebook and Twitter profiles.
The technology helped Televisa, the organizers of Espacio, illustrate the theme of the event, “digital wave,” while integrating technology and social networking into the experience.
Levytation estimated that by employing the RFID bracelets, they reached about 650,000 friends and family with news from Espacio. While no measurement system is perfect, they arrived at that number by looking at the average number of friends and followers for Facebook and Twitter and multiplying that number by the number of posts from the event. This is a conservative estimate because users within the age range present at the event tend to have more social media connections than the average user. Another consideration is that the estimate may contain duplicates and it’s difficult to determine how many of the friends or followers actually viewed their profiles that day.
Still, those are results that even Kelso would be impressed with.
Schmid is the managing partner of Cook + Schmid, a San Diego-based marketing and public relations firm. Follow him on Twitter @jschmidpr, or read his blog at www.cookandschmid.com