It’s been 4 years since I was first appointed to handle the marketing and communications for the Lancaster Music Festival which taking place every year across the city. This year the festival was bigger than ever, spanning 5 full days from 8th to 12th October and with a grand total of 43 venues taking part, all within walking distance in Lancaster city centre. Venues included the majority of pubs and restaurants, Lancaster’s 4 outdoor squares, the Ashton Memorial and Lancaster Castle. If you’d walked through the streets of Lancaster on those days you would have stumbled upon a wide range of live music of all tastes and genres from local, national and international artists.
It’s my great privilege to be part of the small bunch of individuals who form the festival team and make this mammoth event happen every year. It’s a really fun and varied role, which includes providing input all year round on the vision, strategy, logistics and delivery of the festival. But my primary concern is to coordinate the marketing aspect and do everything I can to continually grow awareness of the event, and, alongside the rest of the team work my socks off to make the visitor experience a wonderful one (indeed the festival tagline is ‘Welcoming, Walkable, Wonderful!)
How social media amplifies the festival experience
As well as consulting on marketing elements such as the festival branding, website, brochure and mobile app (new for this year), Back Room SAM is solely responsible for managing the festival’s social media activity. Facebook and Twitter have been essential to our communications strategy for engaging with festival-goers, artists and venues prior to the event, announcing developments and new elements added to the festival mix each year, as well as sharing news and updates during the festival itself.
If you’d been out and about at the festival, you’d probably have spotted a blurred version of myself running about the city with festival photographer Nick Dagger, sharing the goings-on as they happened. It was vital to keep the buzz going by posting photos and anecdotes, while adding to the copious mix of likes, comments, shares and retweets from festival-goers engulfing the social media sphere!
With such a large number of hosting venues and performances going on at the same time over the festival, it’s literally impossible for one to see everything, but thanks to social media people are able to share their festival experience with others – on Twitter the hashtags #LMF2015 and #TakeMondayOff were used for visitors to share photos and videos and tell other followers about their favourite gigs. Some weird and wonderful moments were also spotted and shared, including a photo of someone playing a snare drum whilst sat on top of a pub beer fridge at 1 in the morning, and one tweeter declaring their new found love of the medieval hip-hop genre after attending a gig by Boom Bike Bouree at Nice Bar and Restaurant!
— Hugh Tuffen (@HTuffen) October 10, 2015
Over the 5 days of the festival, our updates reached 106,000 people on Facebook and 94,500 people on Twitter – a fantastic reminder of the power of social media and the role it can play in enhancing an event like this.
Lancaster Music Festival goes National
It’s also my job to generate and coordinate the press coverage for the festival. Every year the event obtains a good level of attention from local and regional press including the Lancashire Evening Post and BBC Radio Lancashire, and for the first time this year we achieved national coverage from BBC 6 Music and the Daily Telegraph which is very exciting!
Most importantly, the festival is excellent for Lancaster. It’s two weeks later and people are still talking about it. It is estimated that over 60,000 people attended this year’s festival including many visitors from outside the region, injecting an extra £1.5million into the local economy. People are sitting up and taking notice of this small city as a world-class music location. Locals are proud to call Lancaster their home and visitors are looking forward to coming back.
As one person so profoundly commented on the festival feedback survey, Lancaster well and truly rocked.
Here’s what Festival Coordinator Ben Ruth said having Back Room SAM as part of the festival team this year:
“Employing Back Room SAM to promote and market the 2015 Lancaster Music Festival allowed us as directors to concentrate on the festival production and development without having to overly concern ourselves with marketing, as we knew Sarah would take care of those needs competently and efficiently. She proactively engaged with the festival team, making suggestions on strategies to improve the marketing as well as regularly updating us on the status of the marketing campaign.
The 2015 music festival broke all previous year’s records and also broke nationally for the first time. The unprecedented turnout of over 60,000 festival goers over the festival weekend bringing in around £1.5m into the city’s economy is both a testament to the festival’s success and to the success of a brilliant marketing campaign managed by Back Room SAM. 10 out of 10 in terms of beating our expectations and value for money!”
Benjamin Ruth, Director of Lancaster Music CIC
Bring on next year! Let the planning begin….
Want to know how social media can help promote your business or event? I’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with me to arrange a free 1-hour consultation over a brew to discuss ideas together.