How Social Media Amplified Lancaster Music Festival

Lancaster Music Festival 2015
Lancaster Music Festival 2015 (Photo by Nick Dagger Photography)

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!)

The Lancaster Music Festival team
The Lancaster Music Festival team. (Photo by Nick Dagger Photography)

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.

Batala samba drummers at Lancaster Music Festival 2015
Batala samba drummers attracted a large audience in one of Lancaster’s squares over the festival weekend. (Photo by Nick Dagger Photography)

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!

The hashtag #TakeMondayOff was used for people to share their festival experiences with others on social media. (Photo by Nick Dagger Photography)

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!

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.

Visit Lancaster Music Festival on social media at or

Lancaster Music Festival goes National

BBC Lancashire 06
Lancaster Music Festival was the main focus of BBC Radio Lancashire’s ‘Lancashire Outdoors’ programme. They joined us at Lancaster Castle on Sunday afternoon and got busy interviewing organisers and performing artists. (Photo by Nick Dagger Photography)

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!



Lancaster Guardian article

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….

sarah x

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.  

7 Tips for Becoming a Boffin in Blogging


I’ve worked with a number of clients over the last few months who have wanted to get into blogging. Blogs are a great idea for most businesses – as a business owner they give you the opportunity to reveal more about who you are and what makes your product or service special.

If you are still fairly new to blogging, here are 7 top tips to get you going or help you improve your blogging technique.

1. Get a blog that’s integrated into your website
Having a blog that’s integrated into your main website provides fresh content for your site which is good for Google and your SEO. It is also an easy way to get potential customers to visit your website and encourage them to venture outside the Blog section to other important pages that sell your product or service. If you can’t run to the cost involved in adding a blog to your website, then the alternative is to begin a free blog on something like If you do this, then be sure to include links to your main website in your blog posts.

2. The who, the what and the why
Before you begin putting fingers to keyboard, make sure you’ve asked yourself the critical questions: Who is it you are writing for?  What is it you want your blog to do? To connect with others? To share knowledge?  And why do you want to start a blog? To raise awareness of a particular issue? To demonstrate expertise in something? Write your answers down somewhere and read back over them as your blog develops to check you are still on track with your goals.

3. Make it easy to read
Research shows that people scan web pages rather than giving them a thorough read, and this should impact the way you write your blogs.  Make your main points clear, and be quick to explain why the post is relevant and worth reading. Readers spend an average of 1.5 minutes on a blog, so it’s important to hold their attention. Be concise and to the point to make your blogs quick and easy reads – between 250 and 800 words is a good guideline. For longer blogs (like this one!) use sub-headings, bullet points and images to help maintain the reader’s focus.

4. Invite two-way interaction
The best blogs actively encourage a dialogue between the blog writer and the readers. Ask for feedback, invite people to leave comments or let you know their opinions regarding the topic being discussed. It’s understandable to perhaps feel hesitant about inviting this sort of feedback, for fear of losing control or having your authority compromised. However, including other people’s opinions or experiences often makes for a more enriching blog. It’s also helpful to remember that you are always in control of what gets published on your blog. If you are worried then check your blog settings to ensure that any comments made by readers require prior moderation by yourself before being published on the site.

Two-way interaction

5. Use images
The blogs with the highest engagement levels almost always include images along with the text. As someone quickly scans through your web page they will process images much faster than text. Experiment with being creative with the images – how about using images that include some text, or even embedding a short video that is related to your blog post?

6. Get social (and sociable!)
Social blogging
There’s little point in writing a blog if nobody can find it. Use social media to get your blog out there, and cross-promote your blogs and your tweets to gain more followers. There are also free online tools out there that allow you to automatically publish your blog posts to your Facebook or Twitter accounts, giving you one less job to do when promoting your blog. Also, don’t overlook the face-to-face opportunities to promote your blog, such as when doing presentations or chatting at networking events.

7. Keep it up!
It can take a while for a blog to gain momentum, so if you’ve not yet established the readership you desire then don’t give up. It’s important to keep blogging regularly – this might mean once a month, once a week, or even once a day depending on your blogging aims and strategy. If you find yourself on a roll with writing, you can always write several posts in one go and then use the scheduling tool on your blog to automatically publish your posts over a period of time.

Over to you
Are you a regular blogger? I’d love to hear about your experience of blogging – please comment below to share your thoughts or to add your own blogging tips or tricks to the list.

sarah x

Video Blog: Social media – A picture speaks a thousand words (or tweets!)

A post on social media is twice as likely to be shared or retweeted by others when it includes an image. In this video blog, I talk about how a important it is for a business to get creative with producing images for use on their social media pages, and how this can be done, even without any graphic design skills!

I hope you find this video blog useful, and I hope it inspires you to get creative when using images in your social media strategy.

Thanks for watching!

sarah x