Social Media Case Study

National Folk Festival

Now here’s something you don’t get to do every day – build up a social media platform and community for a national event with a 75-year history from scratch. From scratch! That’s right, there was zero online social presence for a festival that had been around since the 1930s and regularly attracted over 100,000 attendees. The festival travels to different cities in the US for a tenure of three years, and when it came to Greensboro, NC in 2015, we got to help it put a stamp on the social media world that will last for many years into the future. Plus, we won an award for it!

The Challenge:

Question – what do you think of when you read the word “folk?” The majority of modern audiences think of the currently popular trend of acoustic instrument-heavy, singer/ songwriter music. That definition, traditionally, is incorrect. Folk is the heritage, deeply rooted in a culture and can be anything from tribal dancing and honkey tonk music to basket weaving and hip hop.

Despite its size, history, and all out dedication to the folk arts rooted in the U.S., the National Folk Festival is not well known in many regions of the country. Therefore the challenge was multi-faceted. The social media presence had to be created from the ground up, educate local and national audiences on what the National Folk Festival is, and re-define the very current and improperly defined word “folk.”

The Campaign:

The question had a very simple answer. The National Folk Festival is folk. The hashtag #WeAreFolk was largely unused in the social universe, and we adopted it as both a statement and a definition. It accompanied every nearly every post across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and helped break the ice of defining what the festival stood for. The campaign developed relationships with local organizations which helped branch out the reach of the newly created festival profile and spread word about the festival and all it stood for in a natural, organic way. Thus, a community was created that rallied behind the identity of the festival, making it feel like an integral part of the local landscape as much as it was part of the national.

The Results

After the first two years of the festival, a great deal more people know how to answer “what is folk?” properly. In 2015 the festival saw 102,000 people walk through its gates and saw 138,000 people in 2016. In that time span the Twitter audience grew from zero to 1,400 followers, Instagram from zero to 1,375 followers, and the community on Facebook grew from zero to 11,573 followers. The National Folk Festival helped bring new life to a bourgeoning Greensboro, NC and the social media presence helped bring those efforts to national attention, putting a small city in central North Carolina on the map in a big way.

We are proud to have been recognized by PR Daily for the top prize in their 2016 Digital and Social Media awards in the category of Best Use of Digital and Social Media for Event Promotion. We beat out several well known national campaigns including the PGA and LPGA Tours to claim the award. The essence of what made the campaign successful was the large amount of younger audiences that dominated the audiences across each social channel, an age range rarely drawn by the festival previously. We are honored to have educated so many across the country on the heritage of this important event to our history.

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