Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

Here in Texas, there is nary a town or city that doesn’t recognize the Mexican army’s victory over the French in 1862 – be it with a small fiesta at a Mexican restaurant, or something on a larger scale, replete with a parade and flamenco dancers.

But whether it’s half-priced margaritas or marching mariachis, the celebration of the Battle of Puebla triumph will endure in many forms. And some organized festivities may even grow to proportions that take their original organizers by surprise.

A few months ago, our Events + Experiences staff responded to a question about how small-town festivals can grow over time, and what that growth needs to enable long-term success. We thought May 5 – Cinco de Mayo — was an opportune time to share Vice President Jake Clements’ answers with you:

First, you need a great event. If it’s not, you need to identify the gap in what you are delivering, and expectations of your fans and attendees. If it is already a great event, then small events can grow through consistency: consistently providing a great experience, consistently engaging with the fans, and consistently improving.

So how do you ensure the experience meets expectations? You must understand your audience. Only then can you have a festival that people enjoy and tell their friends about (word of mouth is the best promotion).

During the festival, it is important to leverage the attendees to amplify the brand of the festival across social media. There are several ways to do this, but it goes back to understanding your audience:

  • If your audience is on Snapchat, create a custom GEO filter for them to use
  • Create a specific #hashtag for people to use, then aggregate those onto video screens to create a mural of user-generated content from fans’ social channels.

(Think about that for Cinco de Mayo – the myriad of cultural experiences that could potentially be shared across social media platforms! It would also expand awareness of the history and meaning behind this great celebration.).

Anyway, the point is leverage technology and the fans to make an offline experience amplified online. This turns the crowd into brand ambassadors for the festival.

Post-festival. Now, it’s about consistent communication with the fans via social media and email. Keep them up to date and get them excited for next year. Consistent press coverage before, during, and after the event will create content that allows new fans to find out about the festival.

 Remember that social media, while important due to its massive reach, is not a silver bullet. It’s really about using all available channels: Owned (website, emails, social media), Earned (press coverage, word of mouth, social media), and Paid (advertising, signage, and social media).

By effectively managing your owned, earned, and paid channels, you will generate a social media presence that grows and expands the awareness of the event. 90 or 93 percent of all word of mouth takes place offline, then moves online.

Finally, if this is a small-town festival that’s growing into a large event, the town must embrace and support the festival. Event organizers – or someone they hire – need to work with the small town to help them understand the economic impact the event has on the town. As the event grows, work with the town to invest in infrastructure to support the growth.

Here in Austin, we know a bit about organic festival growth: We just celebrated Eeyore’s birthday – one of the most iconic festivals of all – and of course, we are home to a few hip and local festivals, SXSW and ACL, that now attract global visitors.

Your festival may not soar away on such lofty wings, but we can help you set reasonable goals and assess what you need to get there. Give Jake a call or drop him an email.

And for today:  ¡Salud, pesetas y amor y tiempo para gozarlos!

Health, love, money and the time to enjoy them!