State Fair of Virginia Case Study
The State Fair of Virginia’s main objective was not only to meet, as well as exceed, the set attendance “goal” for the 2010 event (total: 250,000 visitors), but also reach a new audience of potential Fair attendees of all ages, races, genders and backgrounds.
By building on personal experiences with the brand and creating loyalty and ownership, Siddall’s goal was to create a comprehensive, engaging and interactive online community of brand ambassadors who in turn would motivate new, as well as existing, online audiences to attend The State Fair of Virginia event.
We employed two phases in our social media approach. Phase One began three months before the Fair event and focused on building and engaging the existing SFVA Facebook community of 2,000 true, yet inactive Fair-event fans. The online effort provided fans opportunities to discuss the Fair during the months leading up to the event, nurtured conversations and maintained high levels of involvement around event topics. Through this constant conversation, Siddall cultivated fans to become the Fair’s online advocates, supporters, defenders and brand troubadours, who then distributed the brand messages by using his or her personal online network connections.
Using photo games, thought-provoking trivia questions, contests and giveaways, the number of State Fair Facebook fans increased to a community of 10,000 active and engaged fans by the first day of the event. Phase One methods kept the Fair in Facebook users’ news feeds, on users’ individual pages and in the “Suggestions” section; thus increasing the motivation to attend the event and sparking a wide range of viral brand awareness.
Phase Two brought Siddall’s social media strategy to life during the two weeks of the Fair Event. In order to drive attendance, the agency focused online and mobile efforts to grow the existing, active Facebook database, as well as increasing the levels of new user interaction through Foursquare.
Siddall placed guerilla/interactive photo booths in various places throughout the fairgrounds, which created fun opportunities to take pictures and share them on individual Facebook profiles, as well as on the State Fair’s fan page. This simple strategy allowed each attendee to become a brand advocate by sharing pictures and promoting the event by utilizing Facebook photo albums, and ultimately, various followers’ news feeds.
Second, the agency’s digital, on-site “ambassadors” who attended the Fair each day documented highlights of the event, as well as their personal experiences. These ambassadors wore promotional shirts that invited people to “Friend us on Facebook,” captured and shared videos of unique, daily Fair events and posted daily albums to motivate potential attendees, as well as event participants, to attend the Fair event the following day and/or upcoming weekend.
Last, Siddall used Foursquare to create multiple “places” to “check in” and provide tips for each “place” throughout the event venue to encourage people to “check in” and virally share his or her location and tips with friends. By utilizing the Foursquare platform, Siddall created excitement around specific milestones through the two weeks of the event.
By the end of the event, the Facebook fan base grew to over 12,000; thus increasing the initial, dormant audience, by 10,000 active recipients.
Along with growing overall brand recognition, the number of fans increased by over 10,000 active individuals. Due to ongoing social media efforts, the base of fans has continued at 12,450, even though the event is over.
The agency did not have proper mechanisms in place to address and intercept the dishonest activity employed by some Fair Facebook fans to win certain contests and giveaways.