Creating Online Experiences from an Offline Event
KK BOLD enjoys the partnership we’ve shared with North Høstfest for the past seven years. The last week of September marked the 35th year of the festival and its first as a social media entity. Our social media team, armed with a smart phone, digital camera and a plan, headed to the North Dakota State Fair Grounds to share the festival with Høstfest’s 2,500 and increasing page community.
The festival’s official page, found at www.facebook.com/NorskHostfest, was at 817 fans when KK BOLD came on board and offered a strategy to use it as a conversational tool. In five months’ time, the page tripled in size and began driving web traffic, ticket sales and interest in the festival from first-time guests. The page now boasts nearly 3,000, a 600-person increase largely due to live coverage during the event.
Understanding the Need
Norsk Høstfest directors understood the need to share their event through social media and trusted KK BOLD to continue the conversation with a global audience. The plan was to assist fans in attendance and those planning to attend with daily schedules, reminders and not-to-miss events. It was also to encourage those who didn’t make time in their schedules to come out and see what all the fun was about.
This festival is special in many ways, filling up more than 250,000 square feet with live music, specialty foods, craftsmen and demonstrations. Norsk Høstfest’s page traffic increased by 63% one week before the start of the event. During the event, the coverage generated an extended audience and expanded a four-day live event to thirteen days of online activity.
56 hours of constant activities that can’t be sold until they are seen. What sounds good about lutefisk? Seeing someone else trying it for the first time or a video of their personal recommendation for others to stop in and try a serving.
We prepared for multiple languages and multiple cultures. A noticeable increase came from visitors from Norway, Sweden and Denmark who had family or friends attending North America’s Largest Scandinavian Festival. We answered questions about local transportation and general questions about the festival’s host town, Minot, North Dakota. The traditional media coverage also extended across North American shores, and Norsk Høstfest met them in their language and on their pages with an ‘inside’ look into the festival.
The plan’s secondary objective was to reach those who were interested in planning their trip for 2013, or bringing their talent to the event in the next year. This was driven mostly by posts that were questions, interesting facts and little-known highlights of the festival that can’t be portrayed in a 30-second television advertisement.
You could also experience Høstfest on Twitter and Flickr. Largely, our audience was using Facebook, but we did see an increase in activity on Twitter with our #Hostfest hashtag and Instagram photos. We used a dashboard as central command and answered questions and discovered media stories and check-ins as they happened.
At the end of the festival, when the numbers were in, did it work? Our indicators point to success. Comment sentiment, guest feedback and the flow of information were important factors. The page saw an increase in Likes, followers and connections and was shared by the likes of the Oak Ridge Boys, Olivia Newton-John, Vince Gill and more than 25 other entertainers and vendors.
More importantly, the content was rich and it will be living history online.
Helpful tips: To build a live-event coverage plan, know what you want at the end of the festival and think like someone who’s experiencing it for the first time. Do you want pictures that relay the event at that current time, or do you want pictures that speak now and can be brought back again to promote the next event? Are there celebrities attending the event and what is the best way to get them involved? How much attention needs to be spent on event sponsors? Can you creatively thank your staff, volunteers and guests for making the festival special?