26 May 2014

This content is tagged as Multi-Artform .


How the Southern Lakes Festival of Colour engaged their community using Facebook

How does a biennial festival retain community engagement between events?

How does a biennial festival retain community engagement between events?

That was one of the questions on Southern Lakes Festival of Colour general manager, Lindsey Schofield’s mind when she signed up for Creative New Zealand’s Optimise online marketing coaching programme in 2012.

Just 18 months later a new approach to Facebook has led to positive outcomes including a 353% increase in the size of the festival’s Facebook community.

What did they want to achieve?

In late 2012 as part of the Optimise coaching programme, the Wanaka-based festival’s leadership team identified that their busy general manager needed advice on how to more effectively manage their social media alongside all her other duties. This combined with a desire to strengthen the festival’s support and engagement with their community led to a re-think of how it used its Facebook page.

With the 2013 festival looming, a Facebook following of only 700, and a lack of confidence in how to maintain the page, there was a need for short-term fixes and a new long-term approach.

What did they do?

Specific objectives were set for the Facebook activity which were:

  • build the fan base
  • achieve consistently high levels of engagement
  • grow the proportion of Queenstown followers
  • increase internal capability and confidence around using the platform.

Under the guidance of online marketing specialist Vicki Allpress Hill, Lindsey put in place the following for the festival’s Facebook channel:

  • Page optimisation: Optimising the page to fully utilise all the available features and functionality
  • Best practice posting: Making posts shorter and more interesting by using images and aligning them to other communication activity
  • Staff and volunteer resources: Establishing a separate social media role for the 2013 festival and reviewing the festival’s advocates programme to ensure it really was using influencers to "spread the word'
  • Paid advertising: Running a series of Facebook campaigns with specific goals - to generate ‘likes’, increase post reach, target the Queenstown community and generate post engagement
  • Content curation and publishing: Developing a content calendar and using a new system of ‘content buckets’ to choose information that would be of interest to their audiences.  The festival did this by looking at previously successful posts, such as updates on the organisation and its people, performers who had appeared, local events and the local environment.

What were the results?

Three specific outcomes were:

  • Facebook ‘likes’ are now at 3,173, which is above average in the New Zealand arts sector (based on the Optimiser benchmarking pilot results)
  • Facebook engagement has increased – and peaked during the festival at 32%
  • Queenstown-based followers have increased by 915% from a starting point of 26 ‘likes’.

The Festival of Colour’s experience is an example of how aligning communication methods with organisational goals can have a profound and lasting effect on an arts organisation’s business.

“We will go into planning for Festival of Colour 2015 with comprehensive information and much greater confidence in how to use this this powerful and essential medium,” says Lyndsey.