6 (Almost All Canadian) Event Brands that Do “Social” Right, Year Round

Most, if not all, companies finally understand the tremendous impact incorporating social media into your fully integrated marketing program has for your brand, your business and your online image. Having a strong social presence at an event is a valuable asset – at least, we think so, or we wouldn’t be here. However, merely having a presence directly before, during and directly after your event is way less meaningful if you do not have at least a minor presence in the digital space the other three hundred and sixty-some-odd days of the year. It’s very easy to drop the ball on social posting when you are busy trying to execute all the little intricacies of your event. What’s not easy is to have an active and engaging social media presence about your event, year round. Here are 6 companies that we think are doing social right.

Companies Doing Social Right:

Republic Live – Boots and Hearts

They don’t have much on their website, but they have two very strong brands, with very strong social media presence’! RepublicLive is a Toronto based entertainment company that puts on two of the biggest summer music festivals in North America. WayHome (http://wayhome.com/) and Boots and Hearts (http://bootsandhearts.com/), which boasts attendance of over 60,000 people to a small rural community just outside of Barrie. With almost 100,000 fans on Facebook alone, and strong followings on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, they have a large audience to cater to. Throughout the year, they utilize the networks to show flashback videos, discuss promotions, feature original videos from their performers and share other user generated content, and they keep people counting down the days until next year’s event. They also have a strong engagement rating because they do a large number of contests and giveaways, with prizes ranging from full event tickets to meet and greets with artists and pretty cool prize packs. Their event app sends notifications about special appearances, photo ops and contests and weather delays and make sure everyone is well informed, happy and keep coming back year after year.


TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival)

The Toronto International Film Festival (https://www.tiff.net/) is one of the largest film events in the world, let alone Canada. It boasts a massive turn out of directors, celebrities and other important persons from around the world. Though the festival occurs in September, TIFF is very active throughout the year, both promoting screenings and smaller events at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, and promoting the film and arts community as a whole. The TIFF social media presence is quite different across platforms. On Twitter, there is a large amount of retweeting, and interacting (replying and engaging) with both festival fans and industry notable individuals. On Facebook, a large assortment of video content and sharing of events. On Instagram, visual representations of iconic film moments we can all relate to. It’s no surprise they have almost half a million Twitter followers, over two hundred thousand on Facebook and just under one hundred thousand on Instagram. TIFF is successful, not only due to their celebrity and film line-up, but because of their huge corporate sponsors, many pop-up shop style events also occurring during the festival, and the fact that they keep their audience immersed in all things film to make sure they stay top of mind when tickets go on sale at the end of the summer. And what better than a plethora of small events throughout the year to get you excited for the main event? With many screenings selling out in the first hour of going on sale, clearly, it’s a strategy that works.


The Academy Awards – Aka Oscars

Better known as The Oscars, The Academy Awards (http://oscar.go.com/) is one of the most highly anticipated award shows that airs yearly. Featuring the best in all things motion picture-related from the popular best actor, actress and film, to cinematography and costume achievement. Rather than focusing on the night of, which garners enough attention regardless of shameless social media promotion, the Academy Awards focuses on the Academy, the museum, charitable initiatives and focusing on what past winners have to say via pre-recorded or live video. The two-plus million Facebook fans get to see some historical flashbacks from memorable award moments, live videos of interviews, trending hashtag posts like #GivingTuesday; and they always remember to tag the authentic celebrity accounts they are mentioning. Their Twitter is much of the same, with the exception of minimal retweeting from some notable “verified” accounts; and their Instagram provides a goldmine of vintage and modern pictures, videos and inspirational quotes pulled from acceptance speeches. With hundreds of likes and comments on every single post, regardless of medium, their engagement is high; but from first glance, it’s clear that people hate the Oscars, just as much as they love them. The old adage in Hollywood proves true: all publicity is good publicity.


Yukon Quest

The 1,000-mile international sled dog race – Fairbanks Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon. Maybe you’ve heard of it, and maybe you haven’t. In case you aren’t aware, it starts in 49 days, 15 hours, 21 minutes and fifteen seconds (and the counter keeps counting down as I type this). Yukon Quest (http://www.yukonquest.com/) makes the list for ‘doing social right’ because you don’t have to have millions of followers to have a successful event, or meaningful social media presence; you just need to have the right fans and followers, and speak to them in their language. This northern Canadian – plus Alaska race has around 70,000 followers on Facebook, and posts daily content from showcasing fans and race participants, to promoting fundraising events and talking about some of the cultural aspects surrounding the race. Though many of the people they are featuring may not be well known like The Oscars tags, they are bang-on at tagging the correct people and pairing it with a great image, a link or a hashtag encompassing what the post is all about. They also do a fabulous job at featuring and thanking their event sponsors throughout the year, rather than just giving them a quick and dirty honourable mention on the day of the big race. Twitter shares similar content but also shares quick community events to try to get more people involved in their event and culture. Their Instagram is very human, featuring non-professional photography, some simple cell phone recorded video and event images, along with some beautiful scenery and adorable dogs. This small, but mighty event, is winning with their social efforts across the board.


The Calgary Stampede

The self proclaimed “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” has been drawing crowds to Calgary in western Canada since approximately 1886, when it was a much smaller fair. Not only does the event draw massive hordes of people, but the year round social media efforts are also quite the spectacle. The Facebook page takes advantage of the strong heritage roots of the Calgary Stampede sharing many community, charitable and historical moments to it’s timeline to draw feelings of nostalgia and connect those feelings to a ticketed event that at least a large portion of the page’s Facebook fans will attend. They also draw ties to the country-western industry by featuring round-the-world rodeos. Finally, the page capitalizes on all things Calgary and caters to the pro western Canadians who love the Flames, and country shows at the provinces many venues. The Instagram feed features a good mix of photos, videos and #regrams of others favourite moments. It also splices those posts in with some iconic events happening around Canada and the world, to tie into the world market, thus attracting even more tourists to the western Canadian stage come July. The Twitter page is great because it mixes event content with community content and rounds it off with some sharing of industry-specific posts. They also don’t overdue it on the hashtags and always make sure they are tagging and replying to correct social accounts. Overall, the Calgary Stampede’s networks paint a very vivid picture of what the event is all about; and it makes you want to buy a ticket (or ten) and go – all without saying “remember to buy your tickets here.” Did we mention they have a combined following of about 350,000 across the three big platforms?!


CNE (Canadian National Exhibition)

Aside from the fact that there is literally something for everyone at the CNE, they do a pretty stellar job of representing themselves in the digital space. The website is bright and colourful and screams merriment. They have social accounts across 6 platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google + and YouTube. The first notable accolade is that they utilize Pinterest as an organizational archive for pictures from every year, as well as a place where they can post images from their weekly blogs and their trivia contests. They do some similar heritage posts that cater to people’s nostalgia and fill them with positive memories (to make them want to go back). Where they differentiate, and do it very well is with their Trivia Tuesday campaign. They ask a Trivia question on Tuesdays and give people until the Wednesday to answer, based on some knowledge or fun fact about the CNE, and give them either Admission passes or Ride all Day passes, both of which are quite expensive to buy on their own. Each of these Trivia Tuesday posts gets hundreds of entries and a surprising amount of shares, considering there is no incentive to do anything other then comment on the posts. They have an event hashtag that they use all throughout the year #LetsGoToTheEx and it’s all over their different marketing channels to ensure that when people post about or at the event, there is no doubt in their mind what trending hashtag to use. Twitter is a very different beast with posts about what the Canadian National Exhibition Association is doing all throughout the year from seminars and gala events to accessibility initiatives, etc. They are also quite happy to click the handy “retweet” button from time to time – just to stay modest. A large portion of their Instagram posts is what many of us regular people share on the network – food. The big difference is that The Ex doesn’t do anything halfway; it’s food is big, bright, colourful and usually unhealthy but delicious. It makes you hungry staring at the feed, and it makes you start planning what unusual treat you are going to indulge in next year, which keeps you thinking about the event itself.


What event brands do you think are doing a stellar job on social media? We want to hear from you. Comment on the social media post!

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