Marketers have been using nostalgia for generations, utilizing old commercials and logos to help connect multi-generational fans and buyers. As most people experience nostalgia at least once a week (and nearly half experience it at three to four times that amount), modern marketers have quickly learned to harness the power of social media to accelerate the impact of nostalgia to drive their event campaigns.
One application of nostalgia in our daily lives is Throwback Thursday, a campaign which began on various social media platforms in 2006. To put this trend into perspective, as of May 2014, the hashtag #TBT had been used 193 million times on Instagram.
Now that we’ve recognized that nostalgia is a popular tool, it’s worth exploring why: what makes nostalgia so popular? Why do we as event marketers want to create feelings of nostalgia?
Studies pioneered by Dr. Constantine Sedikides, beginning in 1999, found that “nostalgia has been shown to counteract loneliness, boredom and anxiety. It makes people more generous to strangers and more tolerant of outsiders.” The research further indicates that nostalgia is universal, experienced across all cultures, and actually increases self-esteem and ‘social connectedness,’ which relates to feelings of being loved and protected.
If you ask me, those are feelings I would want my event attendees to experience. To that end, let’s explore different ways you can use nostalgia before, during, and after your event:
You can start using nostalgia long before your attendees arrive by connecting with the omnipresent Millennial generation. This savvy group has been testing and perfecting their social media strategy for over a decade now, and smart event marketers know how to tap into their propensity for virtual engagement.
The ability to go back into a virtual vault to review an event is a major factor to consider when you are creating your social media strategy. Apps like Timehop show photos and updates from a specific day in history. If your event has used social media to market your annual program, you can use this app to reminisce about cities that hosted your event, parties that happened, and review photo content from everyone who utilized your event’s hashtag (you have one, right?).
If your event is celebrating a certain anniversary and your company has archives, you should consider posting some memorable artifacts online throughout the year leading up to your event. Reach out to some of your oldest attendees who may have been at the first event and ask them for memories and stories they’d be willing to share. This is a great tool for hyping up the event. It also helps to ramp up the “fear of missing out (FOMO)” factor for those attendees who don’t want to miss out on creating new memories.
A picture is worth a thousand words, which goes to say that nothing brings back memories like photos. Polaroids and disposable cameras scream nostalgia, and while they are true throwbacks, make sure to augment these tangible cameras with a social media option like Dudr.
Created by a German startup, Dudr launched a few weeks ago on iOS with the idea of mimicking the effect of giving a group of friends a bunch of disposable cameras to snap photos at the same event. This is a useful app you can use at your events without having to buy hundreds of disposable cameras. Not only is this a fun activity for your attendees, it also creates content you can use to market next year’s event.
Continue your pre-event showcase of company memorabilia with a physical memory display like Cisco Live used in 2014. The company decided to create a 25th Anniversary Museum to celebrate their Silver age, which housed a timeline, displayed artifacts, and showed off 25 years of attendee hats that had become a staple of each of their events.
You don’t need to celebrate an anniversary to show off some of the history of your event – post photos of last year’s event, or create a multi-year progressive theme that pays homage to past celebrations!
There really is no waiting period before nostalgia kicks in. If you create enough opportunities for your attendees to craft memories, you can start tapping that goldmine as soon as the event ends. One of the most important things you can do immediately after an event is create an archive. Immediately start to gather any photos, videos, or unique experiences so your marketing team can use them in years to come. Even though this may not be an anniversary year, you’re going to want to hold on to those memories to use when that time comes.
As Dr. Sedikides discovered, nostalgia is universal. If used correctly, nostalgia can help you connect your brand to your attendees in unique and incredible ways.
Follow us on twitter for more articles like this posted every week!