It’s a question commonly heard at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park: "Where can we find out about future events?" The answer is easy enough-the website, Seasons magazine and now more than ever, social media.
Most (if not all) organizations use social media to reach audiences, but how can these platforms be used to their full potential? Here are some examples of how Meijer Gardens embraces social media to promote its vast array of events, classes and exhibitions, and some simple tips for best practices.
@MeijerGardens provides quick updates on upcoming events. Tweets include: membership info, specific classes, current exhibition programs, daily photos from Instagram and more. By creating the hashtag #meijergardens, tracking talk about the organization becomes easier and provides a way to respond to guest questions. Live-tweeting can be used to relay important and timely information. Meijer Gardens live-tweeted during the press conference announcing the new Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden in February 2012.
Consider extending your reach to clients or potential clients by using Twitter to promote rental discounts, send congrats to a bride and groom on their wedding day, post event photos or thank event partners and sponsors. Twitter is a great promotional tool when used to engage and supply audiences with quick information.
- Tweet 1-3 times daily with relevant updates or engagements.
- Always link to more info to drive traffic to your website.
- Use free tools like TweetDeck or HootSuite to queue up tweets in advance.
- Engage, engage, engage.
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With Facebook’s recent changes-messages now reach, on average, just 15 percent of an account’s fans-every post counts. Although Facebook has limited post reach, it does provide Insights graphs of what "types" of posts work best for your audience. For Meijer Gardens, photo posts reach the largest number of fans and garner the most interaction. In knowing this, monthly strategies incorporate photo campaigns into the mix of event updates. For example, leading up to the Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World exhibition, we launched a 13-day countdown, posting images of programs, classes and events surrounding the exhibition to raise awareness and generate excitement about specific events.
Whether it be company culture, bios of event coordinators or event photos, find out what engages your audience and create strategies around it. The Meijer Gardens Facility Rental Team serves specific external audiences, so a Weddings at Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Facebook page was created. Posts include photos of past weddings, Pinterest links, client testimonials, rental deals and more. Other examples of hospitality posts could include successful past events, relevant industry news, commentary from the CEO, etc.
- Keep your wall visual-text isn’t the only answer. Use interesting photos.
- Statuses should be short sentences-consider posts "sound bites" of information.
- Post 1-3 times a day during high traffic times in the morning and evening.
- Plan campaigns around an event or promotion to build interest.
- Use Facebook Insights to see what types of posts garner the most interaction.
Facebook and Twitter are already norms with most companies, but what about Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and blogging? Meijer Gardens embraces all these platforms, but utilizes them in different ways. The Weddings at FMGSP Pinterest shows pins of past weddings, room rentals and even linen setups to reach brides or event planners. The blog delves into classes, announcements and book discussions that would be too large for a Facebook post. Meijer Gardens’ horticulture staff builds content on YouTube by creating "Gardening Tip" videos, and its Instagram captures everyday beauty in the gardens. Hone in on what makes your company and/or employees’ skills unique, and utilize the different social media tools to portray it.
- Analyze whether it makes sense to be on specific networking sites.
- Integrate all your platforms with campaign strategies.
- Plan "big idea" strategies 1-3 months ahead and tweak as you go.
Whether it’s creating a hashtag or getting employees involved in telling their stories, there are many ways to use social media to promote not only an event, but a company. "Always growing, always beautiful, always new" is a promise Meijer Gardens makes to its guests-the same can be said about its social media efforts.
- Melissa Barr
Melissa Barr is the public relations specialist at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, where she manages web, online marketing and social media content, and assists in public relations campaigns.