For four days in late August, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre looked like Brian Posehn’s fantasy mixer, as Wookiees and undead pop stars from all around gathered for Fan Expo 2014. As much as fan conventions mean to steampunks, Bruce Campbell fans and Burt Ward, they get brands just as excited. With massive concentrations of consumers from the lucrative hobby market all in one place, fan conventions give brands a unique opportunity to demo products and increase brand presence in a key demo. Moving product is definitely a priority, but smart brands are also using the face time to foster long-term relationships with their consumers.
Fandom acts of kindness: Sennheiser gets social
Sennheiser is one such intrepid brand. While it did use Fan Expo to preview its soon-to-be-released headphones and its gaming line, Sennheiser also used social media to build affinity and nurture its brand community.
At the center of the operation was #SoundCrew, a brand-owned social photo platform that showcased the best fan photos from the event. The real-time gallery was set up on an interactive touchscreen, making browsing easy and intuitive. The best part, though, was that with social sign-in boosting its user database and embedded product links driving purchases, the platform was much more than a shiny object for people to play with between rounds of the Settlers of Catan Championship qualifiers – it was its own brand engagement engine.
The #SoundCrew gallery, as displayed on the touchscreen at Fan Expo.
As the ice bucket challenge has clearly demonstrated, participation is a powerful thing. Encouraging people to take immediate, understandable action is a great way to power engagement. Sennheiser realized that showing the playful side of its brand community would inspire others to join the party, and that those fuzzy feelings would grow into an ongoing relationship with the brand on social.
Noise cancellation: let your audience’s voice be heard
Sennheiser planned its booth activities to feed the platform content and users by encouraging visitors to take action on social. It started with an incredibly affable on-site team, which exuded fun like The Beach Boys and built a convivial atmosphere in the booth.
Visitors were offered a free T-shirt in exchange for a digital interaction with Sennheiser – a follow on Twitter or Instagram, a like on Facebook, etc. They were also given the chance to win a pair of Sennheiser headphones for posting a photo using #SoundCrew and following Sennheiser Canada on Twitter.
With the platform collecting and displaying those photos on the interactive touchscreen, there was an immediate payoff for visitors, who could see their entries in the gallery in a matter of moments. The clever content loop naturally drew eyes to the platform, spreading awareness and driving social sign-in.
With little more than 200 T-shirts and a bright idea, Sennheiser turned a few hours of fun into over 1000 photos, 5.6 million impressions and hundreds of new relationships.