This past week I attended Deluna Fest in Pensacola Beach, Florida. Deluna Fest is a weekend-long music festival featuring a number of acts varying from Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts to a number of up and coming artists in various genres. Beyond being a fantastic weekend, I couldn’t help but notice how effectively they utilized social media before, during and after the event. It really enhanced the overall event experience. So I’ve compiled my list on how to promote and execute great events using social media like a rock star. Thanks to the folks behind Deluna Fest for doing a great job.
1. Start early. The Deluna Fest twitter account has over 6,000 followers and their Facebook page has over 39,000 Likes. To get that type of following they had to start promoting the event months in advance. And remember, the purpose of using social media is not so you can reach all people, it’s so you can engage the right people so THEY tell the world.
2. Use Twitter lists. The people at Deluna Fest realized that music fans are rabid followers on social media. So they created a twitter list of all the participating musicians and bands on twitter. I was able to follow their list and receive live updates about all of the bands. It was my own personalized Deluna Fest news feed. Brilliant!
3. Enlist help by your event partners and participants. Event sponsors CAO Cigars (9,700 FB Likes) and Landshark Lager (132,000 FB Likes) and were very active in promoting the event to their followers (bravo). The local tourism organization, Visit Pensacola (43,000 FB Likes) was also very engaged in promoting interest to visit their beach. This participation by their partners created exponential exposure. Let’s not forget the rabid fan base of Foo Fighters (8.1 million FB Likes) and the Zac Brown band (4.7 million FB Likes). On Facebook alone, Deluna Fest went from talking to their 39,000 fans to well over 10 million people. And if you use the most recent average for number of friends each person has on Facebook (211), the reach of promoting the festival went even higher. Does this have your attention yet?
4. Utilize contest to create excitement and sharing. Deluna Fest consistently promoted ticket give-aways in the few weeks leading up to their event. This caused a reactive retweet-athon from all of their followers. Sure they gave away about 6-12 tickets, but created thousands of added exposure and demand. They were also active during the event. I won a cigar from CAO. That’s right. I’m proud. I received a tweet from @delunafest during the event indicating the first 20 people that visited the CAO sponsor tent would get a free cigar. A nice way to ensure traffic is being driven to your event sponsors. #freestuffrules
5. Encourage social sharing at the event. Deluna Fest used the traditional cut-out scenes we’ve all stuck our heads in at some point. But they included signage that encourage participation in twitter or Instagram! The incentive, they would assemble a Deluna Fest photo album using your pictures. What a great idea. Anyone can do this for any event. If you have a chalkboard you’re in business.
6. Provide insider news, photos and summaries.
Use your event photographers and public relations team to create live news. Send out tweets that show behind the scenes pictures (such as the cool one here of Eddie Vedder). Give updates on sound checks, green room pics, or my favorite, a shot of the set list! Twitter can be the reporter in your visitors’ hands throughout the event. Deluna Fest also sent out summaries each morning of the previous day’s highlights. Plus by using social photo tools like Instagram, your simple smartphone photos can be breathtakingingly cool!
You may not have a music festival with big name artists. But you have an event that can attract high interest and social savvy fans. Use these same principles for empowering and engaging your biggest fans so they promote your event to everyone else.
Now go off and tweet like a rock star. Thank you Pensacola and good night!