I’m the kind of marketing weirdo that goes to Phoenix Suns games and spends more time analyzing the antics of the energetic t-shirt launchers and the grocery store logos dancing on the digital screen thingie than watching the game itself.
This happened to me a few weeks ago at the music and arts festival Coachella. (Here's my analysis of which acts garnered the most buzz.) I loved the music, but half my attention was stolen by Coachella's social media strategy. It rocked.
Goldenvoice, the concert promoter that puts on Coachella, used social to spread the word and create hype around the popular music fiesta extravaganza before, during and after the event.
What did lessons should any major event planner learn from Coachella?
1. Be as ubiquitous as possible
About 80,000 music fans roamed the festival grounds each of the six days of the event. Within such a large audience exists many segments of people who connect and share differently. Having a presence on multiple social channels and publishing a mix of content types allowed Coachella to reach the broadest audience possible.
Granted, it’s better to do one thing really well than to implement a myriad of social media tactics poorly, but if you have the resources to provide each channel with the attention it needs for success, do it. Coachella used the following channels to engage:
- Mobile Apps
- Email Newsletter
- RFID wristbands you could use to update your Facebook status on-site
There was also a ton of fan discussion and content on Reddit, Pinterest, and other sites.
2. Capture and share fantastic photos
When you’re trying to sell an experience, photography is one of your greatest assets. Photos can capture moments that stimulate an immediate emotional response in the viewer. Photos are powerful. Remember, photo sharing accounts for a massive amount of activity on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and Istagram.
Coachella excelled at using photography to build the hype around individual performances, keep people informed, capture memorable moments as they occurred during the event, and help attendees reminisce by posting photos after the event came to an end.
The photos were shared to Facebook, Tumblr, Google+ and elsewhere. Some photos included a “Coachella” decal for added branding. On Facebook, Coachella enabled tagging so fans could tag themselves in the photos they identified with, spreading word about the festival even further.
Here are some cool photos that one of our photographers took: flickr.com/photos/ivankay… #coachella
— Coachella (@coachella) April 26, 2012
3. Create a Mobile App
If you have the budget, create iPhone and Android apps for your event to centralize all logistical information and push vital notifications to attendees' devices. If your event has several performances or presentations taking place simultaneously, simplify the experience by allowing attendees to create their own custom schedule.
4. Create and Advertise an Official Event Hashtag
If you were or weren't at the festival, you could follow the conversation about #coachella and #coachellalive performance broadcasts. Each hashtag was among of the top retweeted hashtags throughout the duration of the event according to our Insights data.
5. Create Shareable and Customizable Digital Memorabilia
Digital memorabilia lets attendees express themselves, and helps the event hosts spread the word with little effort by providing attendees with something meaningful to share.
Feist at Coachella Captured in the Mobile App Digital Postcard Feature
6. Foster Peer-to-Peer Conversation
If you’ve never been to Coachella, you have a lot of questions. What should I bring? Should I camp on-site or off? Why can’t I bring an umbrella? Through their on-site forum and chat room, Coachella let festival alumni do the heavy lifting of answering questions by providing a place for newbies to connect with experienced Coachella-goers. The forum and chat also provide a place for attendees to continue the conversation and reminisce after the event.
Because Coachella hosted the conversation, they have greater visibility into direct feedback, peer advice, and suggestions for improvement next year. Coachella also partnered with GroupMe to help attendees use mobile group messaging to keep in touch and find each other during the event.
7. Use Trackable URLs and Analytics
Coachella consistently used bit.ly URLs so they could track how many people clicked on a piece of content from which channel, and additionally used Google Analytics on their Facbeook apps, website and blog to know what content drove what action. Bit.ly was even incorporated into the the RSVP Facebook application that encouraged users to spread the word about which weekend they’d be attending. The bit.ly URL they included each time a user shared their preferred weekend was clicked 22,440 times!
8. Cross-Promote Social Media Channels
Most social media users are active on more than one network. If you can increase the amount of ways people are connected to your brand, you can increase the likelihood they will see your updates. Coachella used the strength of their 400K Facebook fanbase to help draw people to their Instagram account to help it gain a total of over 40K followers, and used Twitter to get people to engage with their Facebook photo albums.
There are tons of photos posted on @Facebook if you haven't checked them out yet. Pick out your favorite: facebook.com/coachella/phot… #coachella
— Coachella (@coachella) April 23, 2012
9. Live Stream and Record the Event
By streaming and recording specific portions of your event, you extend the experience beyond the event date and allow people who couldn’t attend to partake. Coachella collaborated with YouTube and StateFarm to capture some of the amazing performances, and encouraged users to "Relive Coachella" using display ads.
Were you stunned by how well Coachella used social? Were any of these tips helpful for you own conference or event planning? Please-oh-please, let us know your thoughts!