For as long as I can remember, my mom has always made us eat together as a family at the dinner table. Not on the couch, not in front of the television, and definitely not with cell phones in hand. “Who could you be texting if I’m sitting right here?” I can hear her say every time I reach for my phone during a meal, even when she’s not around.
It’s the new age suggestion that all these mobile and technological advances at our fingertips are driving us away from real time human connections. To an extent, I can understand the concern. We should all appreciate what is going on around us and not be sucked into our phone screens. Working in experiential marketing, I want nothing more than for a consumer to enjoy a physical experience that I helped create. However, I think working in this industry has also allowed me to take a step back and realize all the ways mobile technology can enhance these human experiences.
In a city where the abnormal has become the norm, it would be easy for consumers to walk past our event, take a look, maybe think to themselves that it’s pretty cool, and then move on with their day. But we want more than that; we want them to stay, to engage, and to walk away having enjoyed themselves. So we encourage them to take a photo (even a selfie or two!). The hashtag we put on every banner and giveaway — go ahead, we tell them, use it.
Because by doing so, they will discover a world of other consumers just like them who enjoyed the experience too.
At the event, the consumer’s phone vibrates. Is that a text they just got? Nope, it is a message from the brand (triggered by beacons — another form of mobile tech) telling the consumer to enjoy their time engaging with the brand. The consumer smiles, stays for a while, then posts that gorgeous (and brand relevant) selfie to Instagram to show all their friends just how great of a time they had. The goal of any experiential marketing campaign is for consumers to forge a real and positive connection to the brand, and mobile technology allows us to do that.
All in all, there is a time and place for mobile technology. In the right circumstances, it can take a good event and make it a great one. It can take a consumer and make them a customer. So I say embrace the technology we have at our fingertips: interact with the physical and digital world at the same time! But for the sake of my mother… maybe just not at the dinner table.