Calgary Herald partners with Canada’s largest outdoor event to create the Stampede Social Media Hub, encouraging digital and social media engagement.
The Calgary Herald has been working with one of Canada’s largest outdoor events — the Calgary Stampede — for a century. So, when it comes time to plan annual initiatives with the Stampede, the emphasis is always on finding a fresh idea.
With the explosion of social media in recent years, it quickly became apparent to the Herald last year that utilising a number of these channels would be key to optimising audience engagement and increasing usage of the Herald’s digital products.
Managers from the Herald’s marketing team, Alana Engler and Siobhan Vinish, approached the Stampede with the idea of creating and sponsoring a social media hub that would enable both the Herald and the Stampede to interact with community members in a variety of new ways.
“It’s crucial that we connect and communicate with our readers on the platforms they choose to use,” said Engler. “As those platforms have changed and evolved, so has the Herald.”
The Herald’s newsroom also became involved in activating the social media hub, using it as a method of connecting with more readers virtually — via the Herald’s Facebook page and Twitter feed — and in person at the Stampede grounds.
This was an exciting and important venture for the Herald, giving us the chance to reach out and interact with people both face-to-face and in the digital world. Participating in the social media hub provided an ideal opportunity for us to showcase our digital offerings, while also attracting more followers and fans.
Fairgoers could stop by the hub and recharge their phones or mobile devices, use an iPad, pick up a special Twitter button, take advantage of the free Wi-Fi zone, learn more about the Herald’s social media offerings, and enter to win prizes.
The Herald, the presenting sponsor of the Stampede Social Media Hub, asked journalists and staff to volunteer at the booth so people could come by and chat with them. The Herald also set up a Webcam at the hub, so visitors could say “hi” to the world. That live footage was streamed on the Herald’s Web site. Folks at home could check in with the Webcam to get a live view of the weather and crowd conditions.
Through the hub, the Herald was able to talk to community members about the work it was doing on its Web site, while also signing up people for the Herald Insider e-newsletter, breaking news alerts, the iPad edition, the Herald’s Facebook page, Twitter feed, and mobile-optimised sites.
At the same time, people were encouraged to submit their photos from the Stampede grounds to the Herald’s Facebook site; those who submitted were entered into random prize draws.
People were also reminded that it was a great idea to follow the Herald on Twitter. Not only would they receive relevant news and tweets, they’d also receive tweets during the Stampede that gave them clues to special contests at the social media hub. Every couple of hours, the Herald would tweet out a question; the first person to appear at the hub with the answer would receive a prize, such as rodeo tickets or food vouchers. People loved it, and the Herald is now planning its second year of sponsorship of the hub at the Calgary Stampede.
All the activity at the hub was supported by an innovative print, digital, and video promotional campaign.