Everyone needs a reason to show up.
On Friday nights, you can find me squatting on the sofa watching WandaVision, my new favorite show. (That last episode was quite jaw-dropping.) At 6PM every Monday in my town, they offer a half-priced burger and I’m usually in line with my wallet open. When my beloved Golden State Warriors play, I watch the game live.
One reason this rigid attention to start times and events is so important to me is that I’m still mostly at home with my family during the pandemic.
It feels like Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow with a touch of Netflix obsession here and there. I need things to look forward to, I have to stay true to my work schedule, and I don’t want to have too much flexibility.
That’s why social media has started to feel a bit repetitive as companies and brands tend to stick to the same strategy and keep repeating themselves over and over. What works better is to create events, contests, livestreams, and other timed posts and videos that your users will mark on their calendars. Of course, the event has to be noteworthy. The classic example of this is any royal wedding. You know it doesn’t happen that often. On a global scale, the Super Bowl or World Cup are good examples. Advertisers pay millions because they know a lot of eyeballs will tune in and won’t bother waiting until later when they can watch the recorded version.
The concept of appointment social is not new. I remember a Buzzfeed talk from years ago (I included it below) that mentioned how letting users know about an event helps build momentum and anticipation. It’s human nature. If you tell me something is happening on Sunday at 3PM and it seems noteworthy, I will start thinking about it and planning for it.
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I don’t know if I can say why that is. Something in our nature makes us want to be on time, even though time is mostly a state of mind. (That clock on the wall might not even be accurate; about 200 years ago, no one wore a watch because they had not been invented yet.) We aim to please, and if we’re told to tune in for an event, many of us will oblige.
Appointment social is a great match for those who are stuck at home during COVID-19. We all need something to happen, even if it is someone kissing a fish.
For any brand, you have to garner interest by making things multifaceted and interesting. A contest leads to a livestream which leads to a TikTok. Honestly, we’re all so bored we might pay attention to just about anything as long as we know it is at a specific time on a certain platform.
The idea is to make something happen and invite people to participate using the apps they are already on all day long. People doom-scroll all day on Instagram, so you might as well give them a live video or a contest to participate in (but only if they hand over their email address starting at a specific time when the contest opens). Livestreams on social media have risen and faded and risen again over the years in terms of their viability, but the one thing that will always be true about them is that they take place at a specific time. Users don’t need to know they can watch the recorded version later, and real-time chat is the best kind of engagement ever.
Will you try an appointment social event? If you do, be sure to post on my Twitter feed about the day and time. Maybe I will try to drop in and crash your event.