How You Can Literally Put Your Next Event on the Map

by Jay Selig, Marketing & PR Manager

Nothing is more impactful than word of mouth recommendations. Why? Because you’re getting a first-hand review from people you know and trust.

As consumers, we rely heavily on reviews to determine what brand to purchase from, which restaurant to dine at, or whom we should hire to make home repairs. Why shouldn’t we apply recommendations to large conventions or events?

The answer is: we should!

Online recommendations have always been impersonal and often unreliable, but Facebook is looking to change that with their new recommendation feature. Though still in its early stages, this feature could change the way people and brands approach brand activations at festivals, sporting events, and conventions.
 

How It Works

Okay, let’s get down to the basics: how do Facebook recommendations work?
 

  1. Post to your timeline asking friends for a recommendation.
  2. Your friends respond by tagging the Facebook page of their recommended brand or establishment.
  3. The recommendations from your friends are aggregated into a map on the original Facebook post.

 

Seems simple enough, right? What’s even better is that these recommendations allow Facebook to more closely tie into the businesses, allowing for reservations and sales to take place through the recommendation.

If businesses can build their e-commerce and foot traffic using this new tool, we’ve got something great on our hands. But I’m more concerned about how this applies to experiential marketing, so here’s how recommendations can impact the interaction between the consumer and the brand.
 

The Consumers

Consumers are always looking for the next best thing. Problem is, they don’t want to take the time to test things out themselves. So, when it comes to large events, how are consumers to know which activations to seek out and spend their valuable time with?

Facebook recommendations could be the solution to this event indecision. Say you’re going to Comic-Con next year and want to plan out your days in San Diego. How will you ever find out the best activations to stop by? A simple poll of your friends!

As of right now, the feature only allows your Facebook friends to make recommendations, but what if it went beyond that? What if Facebook groups or events could poll anyone for recommendations? That way, you could receive the trusted opinions of those who share your passion.

That’s the goal, and it could make life a whole lot easier for event-goers everywhere. But what about the brands?
 

The Brands

At large events, brands are fighting tooth and nail for visibility and foot traffic. Any tactic they can use to stand out to consumers should be taken advantage of—Facebook recommendations are absolutely one of those tactics.

Currently, brands are searchable and available for consumers to recommend as long as they have their own Facebook page with a valid address.

This is perfect for restaurants to be recognized, but for brands activating at events, there is no temporary location to share. For this reason, there needs to be some variance and specificity in where brands can drop their pin.

In the case of Comic-Con, brands are often small fish swimming in a big sea of clutter. It’s a struggle to stand out amongst the crowd. So whether I’m one of many brands in the convention center or one activating elsewhere on its own, I want everyone to know exactly where my activation is located.

As brands, we can share this information through our social networks, but that only reaches our closest fans. Recommendations are an opportunity for our consumers to do the legwork for us and to reach new audiences.
 

What Needs to Happen

Facebook recommendations is not a foolproof feature; at least not yet. It has the potential to impact brands and consumers on a mass level, but there are a couple of changes that need to be made first.
 

  1. Facebook needs to take ownership of real-time recommendations. Whether you’re on Yelp, Amazon, or Google, all of the recommendations you’re seeing are accumulated from years of patronage. For this to impact events, consumers need to receive feedback as it happens.
  2. For this to actually benefit events, geo-tagging tracking needs to be more precise. Brands need to be able to pinpoint their specific location within or around a venue so that consumers can find the best acts at a music festival or see a brand activation they wouldn’t just happen upon at SXSW.
  3. Event recommendations need to expand beyond a consumer’s friends. I’m all for friends being the sole recommenders for restaurants and other services because their opinions are far more valuable than thousands of faceless names. However, when it comes to events, their friends may not be there or may not share the same passion. When you leave your trust in other Comic-Con fanatics per se, you get timely, relevant input that reflects your interests.

 

The idea of recommendations is not a new one by any means, but Facebook’s feature brings a new dynamic to the table. Personally, I think it’s genius to tap into your network of friends for personal suggestions. Hell, I will certainly be taking advantage of it in the future.

However, I think what this feature can do for the experiential marketing industry is special on another level. It takes the guesswork out of building your event or for consumers. Building their festival itinerary. Think of this as a personalized event guide, curated by your friends. Now that’s something I can get behind!