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Post Performance Report: Brands turning IRL events into online engagement


It’s time for another edition of the Post Performance Report (PPR), a series where we showcase social media posts and campaigns inspiring us, and explore what makes them so genius. We unpack how your brand can use these examples to spark your own scroll-stopping ideas—while maximizing your budget and doing more with less.

As the weather heats up in the northern hemisphere, so too are in-person events. From festivals to fundraisers, sponsorships to sporting events, brands are turning IRL moments into opportunities for meaningful community engagement on social. By taking their followers behind-the-scenes of some of the biggest events of the year, social teams are winning over audiences and creating social-first experiences that translate to increased awareness and brand love.

Let’s dive into our lineup of brands who capture the magic of in-person experiences online, and takeaways you can use to extend the cultural caché of your events.

Rhode-chella: Photo-ready pouts

During a year when many brands pulled back on influencer activations at Coachella, Rhode followed suit and bet on user-generated content (UGC) instead. Enter: the TikTok famous Rhode booth that gave festival marketing a “clean girl” twist.

Part photo booth, part lip gloss dispenser, Coachella goers were keen to capture content inside of the sleek, chic structure. The activation helped amp up the buzz surrounding their line of lip products and lip phone case.

A Rhode Instagram Reel showcasing how to use their viral booth and UGC photos

According to Sprout Social Listening data from April 8 to April 20, 2024, mentions of the Rhode booth and Coachella drove nearly 2.5 million impressions during the festival on X (formerly Twitter). The brand and its booth boasted an impressive 95% positive sentiment rate.

Comments on a Rhode TikTok about the booth where commenters express their interest in using it after Coachella

Videos about the booth gained millions of views on TikTok and thousands of likes on Instagram. Rhode repurposed the booth for their pop-up in LA in the weeks following Coachella—something fans begged for on social.

The play: One user-generated post is a drop in the bucket. But when hundreds (or even thousands) of people post about a brand, it floods feeds and reaches viral pandemonium. The key to making UGC effective on a large scale is understanding trends in your audience’s behavior. The Rhode team knows taking selfies and applying (then re-applying) lip gloss are natural actions for their customers. Combining both in an unexpected way was a match made in UGC heaven.

Once excitement builds, you can extend the life of your marketing efforts and increase brand awareness by reusing recognizable activations. We predict the Rhode booth will be a long play for the beauty brand.

The Rocket Mortgage Draft: This is what Dream(mates) are made of

Rocket Mortgage was the official sponsor of the 2024 NFL Draft. In honor of the event, the brand started the “Dreammate” movement—a celebration of the role mentors, confidants and motivators play in helping people achieve their dreams, from homeownership to playing in the NFL. The campaign also benefited Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit who helps turn the dream of homeownership into a reality for those who can’t afford it.

On social, Rocket Mortgage shared content featuring celebrity Dreammate teams connected to the NFL, including new draftees, sports broadcasters and current players. These posts mirrored the emotional, joyous aura of the event. Rocket Mortgage also shared UGC created by those who attended in-person.

An Instagram carousel created by an attendee of the NFL Draft that mentions the Rocket Mortgage partnership

Rocket Mortgage’s sponsorship paid off, proving to be an effective strategy for increasing brand visibility. According to Sprout Social Listening data from April 26 to April 28, 2024, the brand and event were mentioned together more than 250,000 times on X, and those posts received 1.7 million engagements.

The play: Event sponsorships can offer extensive reach, but they should still align with your brand values. Rocket Mortgage artfully created a throughline to the NFL Draft by amplifying their shared mission: to make dreams come true. Tying in their nonprofit partner took the affinity to the next level. While the three brands may not seem obviously connected, Rocket Mortgage wove their stories together in a sentimental way that delighted audiences.

The brand’s partnerships with athletes and influencers humanized the campaign on social, and created momentum before, during and after the draft.

TikTok on the “Gardens of Time” clock

On the first Monday in May, TikTok sponsored the biggest night in fashion, The Met Gala. As they explained in the press release announcing the sponsorship, the social network sees art, fashion and education as integral parts of its DNA.

TikTok's Met Gala portal

In the days leading up to and following the legendary night, TikTok created a Meta Gala portal on their app. From the portal, users can vote on their favorite looks from years past and best dressed of 2024, try the official #MetGala creator effect and explore relevant content.

TikTok's Met Gala portal where you can use the Met Gala creator effect and explore more Met Gala videos

Many news outlets are reporting TikTok legitimized its influence on fashion throughout the 2020s by sponsoring The Met Gala, making the case for the platform’s vital role in shaping the cultural zeitgeist.

The play: The Met Gala is a prestigious event hosted by Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine. It’s hard to think of a more internationally-celebrated, emblematic moment in the fashion industry. As a rising star, TikTok’s sponsorship feels like an intentional play for cultural longevity, and a way to capitalize on chatter already taking place on their platform.

Aligning your brand with the right events can lead to positive gains in your brand reputation. And generating PR on social media can sway the court of public opinion in your favor.

The Masters tees up Topgolf

Do you know the feeling of watching professional athletes on television (or even from the sidelines), and feeling a powerful urge to pick up a ball, racket or—in this case—golf club? That’s where Topgolf enters the chat.

While committing to a full round feels intimidating (especially after a full day of watching a tournament like the Masters), swinging on a gamified driving range is energizing. As the Wall Street Journal reported, every stall at the Topgolf in Augusta, Georgia was full on the Friday of the Masters tournament.

From their social presence, it’s clear Topgolf understands this phenomenon. They see themselves as the place guests turn when they want to scratch their golf itch in a low-stakes way. Topgolf even sent an ice cream truck serving peach ice cream sandwiches (a Masters staple) around town the weekend of the Masters, and promoted the truck on social.

An Instagram Reel from Topgolf showcasing their branded ice cream truck in Augusta during the Masters

Business is booming at Topgolf: The company reported annual revenue of $1.7 billion in 2023. Their business model serves the needs of their customers and they know how to stay top-of-mind on social during high visibility golf events.

The play: Being a part of major events—on social or in-person—doesn’t require a budget-breaking sponsorship. You can find a way to get in on the action, even if your brand is only adjacent to the event. As Topgolf demonstrated, cultural relevance can come from understanding audience behavior, and predicting what they need before they even say it.

Event spotlight: The Kentucky Derby team gets their roses

The horses work hard, and so does the Kentucky Derby social team. In the lead up to this year’s event, it was off to the races. The team posted videos introducing this year’s equine contenders, explaining the history of the event and celebrating past fashion moments—all in a way that felt social-first.

A TikTok from the Kentucky Derby introducing their followers to one of the horses in the 2024 race

On race day, the team churned out content from the event across channels. On May 4, 2024 they published over 50 TikTok posts that accumulated 51 million views, including interviews from the red carpet, updates from the infield and the pivotal moment when Mystik Dan crossed the finish line.

Though the Kentucky Derby is already one of the most famous days in sports, the behind-the-scenes and boots-on-the-ground content drummed up palpable excitement that made this year’s 150th race more exciting (and earned the social team lots of well-deserved kudos).

A TikTok from the Kentucky Derby where they tiny mic attendees asking for their race day essentials

Comments section on a Kentucky Derby video full of praise for the social media team

The play: Even if your brand is hosting a traditional or well-established event, opting for a social-first promotion strategy still works in your favor. Just ensure that your approach is optimized for specific platform formats and has a community-centric focus. Take a page from the Kentucky Derby’s playbook, and pull back the curtain on iconic parts of your event.

Translate live events into digital community

That concludes this month’s installment of the PPR. Stay tuned for next month’s edition where we’ll be highlighting some of our favorite brand collaborations right now. Until next time, keep these points in mind:

Looking for more on how to embrace your community on social? Read more about how to craft a social-first community strategy, and how it can breathe new life into your brand identity.

And if you see a social post or campaign that deserves to be highlighted, tag us @sproutsocial and use #PostPerformanceReport to have your idea included in a future article.

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