Last weekend Silicon Valley Comic Con (SVCC) blew away records for first-year "cons", attracting daily crowds of nearly 30,000. And while this amalgam of comic book artists, cosplayers, sci-fi stars and tech geeks made the San Jose Fire Department just a bit antsy, with the San Jose Convention Center reaching capacity, the producers of this epic gathering were thrilled. They went from concept (tech meets pop culture) to profitable execution in under nine months, establishing what, by all signs, should be an enduring franchise.
Renegade was delighted to play a part in the success of this program for many reasons. First, the CEO of PopCult (the producers of SVCC) Trip Hunter, is a former Renegade who we were thrilled to support. Second, it was really fun for our geeky, pop culture-obsessed team. And third, it gave us a chance to put our theories about integrating social media into action, much to our mutual pleasure, and as described below.
Be Present at the Creation
Shortly after the ink dried on the deal with the San Jose Convention Center to hold Silicon Valley Comic Con, Renegade was brought on board to begin thinking through the various roles social media would play before, during and after the event. We agreed on key metrics (reach, engagement, response time, sentiment, clicks, etc.), a multi-tiered content and customer service strategy and had the opportunity to weigh in on the overall marketing strategy.
Get the Brand Voice Down Fast
One of the biggest ways a social agency can help its clients is by defining the brand voice, then representing that voice in content without needing time-consuming back-and-forth revisions. In this particular case, it took the Renegade team about two weeks to get to the point that revisions were no longer necessary, and unless the topic was a pre-determined area of sensitivity, we could simply post without client review. This was particularly important immediately before and during the event as the rate of contact accelerated to light speed.
Assign Specific Roles to Each Social Channel
Recognizing the differences between social channels, we sought to capitalize on the strengths of each - Twitter became the real-time channel for news, customer service and in-the-moment fan appreciation; Instagram was used to generate visual excitement about the show and the long list of stars who were attending; Facebook was the promotional channel and Snapchat was added into the mix the day before the show.
Respond Rapidly and In-Channel
Because SVCC was a new event, we thought it was particularly important that before the event that every question was answered quickly and within the channel on which it was asked. If a customer had a question about a ticket or a particular celebrity signing session on Twitter, for example, we would answer on Twitter as soon as possible. And when the Renegade team didn't know the answer off-hand, we had a protocol to get rapid responses from the SVCC team.
Treat Facebook as a Paid Channel
While the younger target demographic of Silicon Valley Comic Con is lukewarm on Facebook by comparison to Instagram and Snapchat, we still expected to find a sizeable audience there. And indeed, we did. The key was recognizing the need to boost posts in concert with other marketing activities, an effort that not only drove ticket sales cost-effectively but also gradually built up a highly engaged organic fan base.
Let Your Fans Play (especially on Snapchat)
For new brands - even ones like SVCC that target millennials - building any kind of momentum on Snapchat can be daunting. So rather than trying to force the channel with pre-event content, we elected to launch Snapchat right before the show started and provide a sneak peek of the event itself. We then utilized geofilters for each of the three days. But most importantly, once the event started we turned the channel over to a gaggle of cosplayers who brought their personal fans with them, helping us go from zero to superhero on Snapchat in under 50 hours.
Expect the Unexpected
Once Silicon Valley Comic Con kicked off, the social chatter increased exponentially requiring more hands on deck and ER-like triage. Social listening informed operational decisions enabled by having the social team in the real-time walkie-talkie loop. A mere like on a cosplayer photo enhanced the customer experience and a shout-out to an exhibitor actually increased booth traffic. Random video content garnered thousands of views on Instagram while #SVCC ended up trending on Facebook, results that were entirely unpredictable.
Make It a Team Effort
While Trip will graciously report that social played an indisputable role in the success of the event, in truth it was but one part of a brilliantly executed multi-channel marketing program. A drumbeat of newsworthy press releases followed by a whirlwind media tour featuring the great Woz (Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak) provided vibrant social content and generated hundreds of millions of ticket-selling PR impressions. And good old-fashioned print and outdoor advertising also did their part to drive awareness and sales.
In sum, like a classic sidekick, social media played its part for SVCC, supporting a mega-marketing machine, filling the gaps and buttressing the star-power of the main event.