As someone who lives and breathes live brand storytelling, this year’s TEDxSydney theme of REAL really resonates. There’s nothing more powerful than a real, live interaction between a brand, organisation or institution and a brain—one where stories are shared not through screens or on paper, but in face-to-face environments.
The rise of tech in the face of ‘real’
What’s interesting is technology has changed the way we communicate, work and live today. We’re glued to our smartphones—we rely on them to keep in touch with our loved ones, pay bills, capture special moments… And most of us work from a laptop or computer day in, day out. Then there’s voice technologies for entertainment, Fitbits for fitness… The list goes on. Some argue this reliance on technology has prompted a shift away from the real. But the thing is, it’s innate to the human condition to crave contact with others.
It explains why live has been around since the beginning of time—think about how the greats like Shakespeare, or cause-related events such as Live Aid and the recent Fire Fight Australia bring people with common interests, values and passions together.
A growing experience economy
The real has never been in such high demand. This is being driven by experience loving millennials and Gen Zs, who famously prefer to spend their earnings on experiences over things (1)—think music festivals, foodie events and innovation seminars. These demographics not only make up more than half of the world’s population (2), they are gaining more spending power as they enter the workforce and move their way up the ranks at work.
Additionally, studies highlight that the human population overall are seeking out the real. A 2018 report from NAB Group Economics, for example, concluded that: “we tend to rate experiences as the most positive way to spend our money.(3)”
Fusing the real with the virtual
So it’s clear—in this modern age most of us are digitally savvy, but we also thrive in live situations. We exist in more of a ‘phygital’ state—one where we simultaneously exist in our online and offline worlds. Instead of viewing technology as a hindrance that prevents us from getting ‘real,’ there are ways we can combine live and digital for the greater good.
With the help of tech such as smartphones, live streaming devices and social media (a platform we must tap in to – according to We Are Social’s Digital in 2019 Australia report (4), 18 million Australians are active social media users), we’re able to extend the reach of real experiences beyond the physical. The highly shareable design features and informative and insightful messages shared in these environments can be amplified by the organisers, hosts, and perhaps most importantly—audience members. By empowering them to become citizen journalists, consumers are compelled to capture what they see and share their personalised highlights with their networks in real time. This action not only enhances their social currency, it amplifies the real—depending on their social following, a few hundred social posts could increase the reach of the real experience from 1,000 people to a live and virtual audience of more than one million.
In a busier, more distracted world than ever, it’s important we get real. Embracing the art of storytelling enables us to share real stories. Leveraging a combination of live in the first instance as a platform to host these stories, and then digital to amplify them is subsequently an incredibly potent form of engagement today.
By Laura Roberts, Managing Director, INVNT APAC