Today’s guest post is written by Barbara Maldonado.

I have spent my career creating events to connect brands with consumers.

I love events because they give people opportunities to experience the brand through their five senses with a healthy dose of emotion and excitement tied in.

These meeting moments have evolved further with social media. They allow us to take live offline experiences to online communities that facilitate enriched experiences and conversations.

The brand truly comes alive at this intersection of “In Real Life” (aka IRL) and online; with the voice of your brand ambassador, the thrill of a unique experience, and online engagement that inspires brand loyalty.

As I develop experiential and social campaigns for clients, I draw inspiration from the passion and excitement I have felt when my favorite brands intersect with my own lifestyle.

For instance:

  1. I loved when Absolut Vodka took “my” bus shelters in Chicago and stylized them with unique décor to transform the ordinary into the stylish.
  2. I felt like a kid when touring the hallowed halls of the Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta.
  3. I remember the times, early in my career, seeing faces light up in the audience as a major rock band took the stage for a private concert I helped produce.
  4. I refer to that burst of energy you feel when you see a long-lost friend walking toward you or when you meet the person you have been exchanging tweets with for months – you feel it in your heart.

These are all feelings that are real and true, and hopefully linger in memory.  IRL brings it all together. In small ways and significant moments, brands can deliver this type of connection. It isn’t easy but it is probably one of the most rewarding when you achieve it.

Five Ways to Make a Connection

  1. Be welcoming. Staff programs with brand ambassadors who are friendly, great communicators, and exude a positive attitude.
  2. Timing is everything. Think about your audience and when they will be most open to meeting you. Don’t overstay your welcome by keeping them too long. This is especially true as your brand makes its way through social media channels, as well as the live intercepts planned for brand engagement.
  3. Relevance is key. You have your audience in front of you, make the best of the opportunity and deliver a meaningful message, not a sales pitch.
  4. Give them a path for more. Whenever possible, connect your campaign with the social channels that provide information, extended brand content, and offers.
  5. Remember, we are all people first. The connecting force for humanity is each other. Focus on honest experiences.

What are some of the ways you have seen IRL brand moments come together?  What are some of your thoughts, both as a consumer and a professional, to continue evolving these experiences?

Barbara Maldonado  is a social media strategist, community manager, and blogger.  When not at work, she volunteers her time as a board of directors member for the Chicago Chapter of SHRM and to the Kendall College School of Business.  You can find her on LinkedIn and on Twitter @bmaldonado.