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As online marketers, we aim to cultivate emotional connections online. Sure, we can gain followers, drive likes and comments on Facebook posts and even get a retweet or two, but unless we are able to get consumers emotionally invested in something, our efforts are always short term. Sometimes, it pays to take those experiences offline. Recently, TheNextWeb reported that a consultancy that teaches businesses to use Facebook is taking their show on the road. Social Bizzle is riding a van to different locations across the UK to gain more one-on-one interaction with small business owners while providing those services for free. Why would a digital company that makes its money helping others grow online relationships go to all this effort? Because sometimes, to really grow and nurture a business, you have to have those in person interactions.

An Doggie Style Influencer Experiment

One of my main clients is in the pet food industry. Last October, we discovered a large dog blogging convention happening just down the road from us called Barkworld. Knowing that we would potentially be reaching out to this group of people for future influencer programs, we decided to leverage our home court advantage.

The night before the conference began, we hosted an Opening Night Tweetup at Hotel Indigo in Midtown. It gave all the pet owners attendees to bring their dogs to a cocktail hour and have the opportunity to get to know each other before the "official" networking started. Many of the attendees were able to build relationships with others but also were able to get to know a few of us even better. We were able to cultivate those in-person relationships with influencers in the pet space over time and when we ended up running a few influencer outreaches for product launches, they were willing to help. The cost of that in-person experience was far exceeded by the value of earned media our clients garnered.

Some people would even go as far as calling that ROI.

Engauge was the catalyst driving emotional connections between people at an event, which resonated more than a gimmicky coupon or promotional product in a swag bag. We were reminded about the value of a personal touch.

In a digital world, do in-person meetups still matter? Will we rely all on connecting on a computer? Or will in-person experiences actually increase in value because we're so digitally minded?