#Trillectro2015: A Study in Audience Engagement on Social Media

My cousin Tyler and I at Trillectro this past weekend.
My cousin Tyler and I at Trillectro this past weekend.

This weekend I finally got to Trillectro, an annual music festival in Columbia that showcases up and coming artists, mostly in hip hop and R&B. Ever since I went to Made in America I’ve been hooked on the vibe of a big festival filled with music I love, so I’m really glad I had the chance to see great acts like Chance the Rapper and Cashmere Cat at a venue not far from DC.

Being the social media marketing geek I am, I left with some interesting takeaways about audience engagement that I wanted to share. While the way they curated tweets throughout the day could’ve been better (perhaps a live display of #Trillectro2015 on the jumbo screens instead of just the same 20-30 throughout the day?), I have to say that people who brought us Trillectro did a great job of engaging their audience and curating a fun experience.

Know your Audience. This seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many brands fail at this step. The Trillectro team knew what kind of acts they wanted –up-and-coming artists who are perhaps at the brink of hitting it big but already have a following–and knew the kind of people who would want to pay money to see said acts. Knowing your audience–who they are, what they like, and what kind of engagement they respond positively to–helps you to curate an authentic experience that they will not only enjoy but will support again and again.

Make your audience feel like they are a part of your vision and your goal. What I loved most about Trillectro besides the artists was the fact that I felt like I was just as much a part of the experience the festival created as the performers were. In between acts, the Mistress of Ceremonies and the Dj worked together to keep the energy levels high by playing the songs that the audience–mostly young people under 30–were going to get up and dance to.  Some of it is due to the nature of Black music –audience participation is a major characteristic of hip hop and other genres–but some of it was very intentional decisions made to ensure that audience involvement was a top priority.

Young people matter. Listen to them and take them seriously. I have encountered a lot of organizations and brands who either have no real strategy for engaging youth and young adults, or think they know everything about “what the kids are into” and are failing miserably. Neither approach is sustainable. Young people have buying power but not only that, when they feel a brand or a campaign is loyal to them and is listening to them, they will support it in whatever way they can. It can be as small as tweeting using a hashtag or as big of an investment as buying a ticket to a festival. But more often than not, companies and non-profits alike take young people for granted. One reason for that may be the assumption that young people don’t care about the brand. Sometimes, that’s correct–young people may not care about your brand. But the truth is, you won’t know until you try to engage them (that is, if it makes sense for your campaign goals). Don’t just assume young people won’t be into whatever you’re trying to do. Do your homework and find out what they like and what they respond positively to. That includes talking to them. Then, build a strategy for engaging them in an authentic way.

While you’re talking about “those lazy, entitled Millennials” and peppering your Twitter timeline with references to “bae,” young people are using technology and social media in ways you may not have even thought of. There’s more to the youth demographic than selfies and slang. It is your job as a digital strategist/marketer to find out what that “more” is. 

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