How Can Brands Use Experiences to Fuel Identity, Memories and Connections? Make Them Part of the Story, says Viacom



Experience isn’t new. As humans, storytelling is an integral part of our evolution and now it exists as an incredibly valuable marketing tool.

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In the digital era, social media had made each and every person a storyteller, with the ability to share their lives with the push of a button. This poses the unique opportunity for brands to become a milestone in the life story of their audience.

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During #SMWLA, Maya Peterson, Director, Culture and Creative Insights at Viacom Velocity leads a conversation with Boye Fajinmi, Co-Founder and President of The Future Party and Gabrielle Richmond, Director of Programming and Partnerships at Shopify, discussed this topic at length, exploring how much social media has fundamentally changed the nature of experiences by fueling our identity projection, rewiring our connections, and augmenting our memories.

If you can’t gram it, should you stan it?

“Who has gone to an experience so they could take a picture of it and post it on social media? Pics or it didn’t happen?” Peterson quips, before underlining that as marketers, when you understand how much your audience’s experience experiences because of social media, you have an opportunity to connect with them more meaningfully.

iPhone’s appear to have enhanced the majority of experiences as opposed to detract from them, although keen festival and gig-goers may argue otherwise.

The intent behind documentation can be whittled down to the desire to express oneself in order to reflect your values or what you think you should be doing. This applies to both brands and people.

At events, only 19 percent say they get distracted by the need to find a good shot, however, almost half say dedicated social media areas at events relieve anxiety, which suggests people are inflicting a great amount of pressure on themselves to remain valid.

The experience should be part of the story

When it comes to experience, Fajinimi believes that experience should be part of the story and Richmond agrees, highlighting the five senses and that, if a person is able to interact – touch, taste and hear – as part of the experience, then the desire to share it online will be more organic and purposeful. Authentic too, which is a word thrown around a lot. What audiences see has to make sense to the brand.

Bridging the divide between online & social

Peterson asks whether there are ways other ways brands can bridge the divide between online and social, so it’s not just about finding a picture and Richmond believes this is tricky.

Fajinmi says, “right now we’re in this day and age where we have all these ice cream museums and it’s becoming an overload for people. A big trend is a digital detox. When you’re at the event, you’re actually not on your phone. Focus on experience and share it afterwards.” He also mentions the removal of the like button and how it could possibly give brands anxiety about measuring metrics.

Striking a strong partnership

When 52 percent of young people say that the most amazing brand experience changes their perspective, it can be easy for brands solely focus on creating THAT viral moment as opposed to a representation of themselves online. This can lead to audiences feeling like there’s a brick wall between them and the brand – a disconnect.

They conclude that a successful experience looks to educate people. There has to be a takeaway that has aided, developed or changed the receptor.

“Strike a smart partnership,” Fajinmi nods.

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