PR consultant Jackie Dawson came to speak to us in class about event management and how it has changed since wide-spread use of the internet. After learning about the digital marketing strategies she used leading up to and during the Kinsale 7s event, I decided to look at one of my own favourite events and investigate the digital marketing strategies used. Oireachtas na Samhna is an annual event held by Oireachtas na Gaeilge at the end of October/start of November aimed particularly at Irish speakers. An tOireachtas was founded in 1897 and Oireachtas na Samhna has grown in popularity in recent years.
From virtually no digital marketing or online presence to the use of almost all of the popular social platforms, Oireachtas na Samhna has undoubtedly embraced the digital age. However this was not always the case, not long ago the digital presence of Oireachtas na Samhna was virtually nil, depending more on traditional marketing methods. Back then this event was something that only an elite club would attend every year- they always knew when it was on through tradition and word-of-mouth, or more traditional methods of media would be used- it would be mentioned in Irish language newspapers and on radio air time. Since adopting the digital marketing strategies of the present, as well as the traditional forms of media, the event has become popular among a much wider audience- university students attend en masse and it isn’t simply limited to the pool of Irish speakers or those with a special interest in Irish culture. Oireachtas na Samhna is now a huge event, much more popular than ever before. However, I feel there is still room to become even more digital savvy.
An tOireachtas has a very modern website that is filled with the information you need- the history of An tOireachtas, the different events held including Oireachtas na Samhna, tickets, general information and photo galleries. The website is also linked to their Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn and Email. Even though this seems very clear and simple, there are some elements which are still in need of improvement. The Oireachtas website, although stylised, lacks some integral functionality which again makes the users’ experience unnecessarily difficult. It seems that user experience is not the core aim of the website.
There are multiple Facebook sites with the names “Oireachtas”, “An tOireachtas”, “Oireachtas na Gaeilge” and “Oireachtas na Samhna”. This leads to confusion when searching for the page via Facebook and makes it difficult to find the legitimate or correct site, because of this the information sought may never be found. The event manager should delete of any of the sites not in use and keep the correct Facebook site current and up to date. I have seen on my own newsfeed that they have utilised the “boost” button to sponsor content and posts leading up to the event. It would be beneficial to them if they boosted the site as well to differentiate between their own Facebook site and the old sites which are not in use, as well as to connect with even more people who have interest in the Irish language.
Fan interaction is also important leading up to an event. My friends get excited about the Oireachtas weeks or even months before the event. It would be good if the Facebook or Twitter site held some competitions for tickets or posted images and videos to remind people of the fun that was had in previous years- get them talking and even more excited about the event. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat are all really good tools for this as they are visual and spread information instantly. Fan interaction is also a great aspect to take on for the people who might not be able to attend but still feel like they are part of the occasion, that the Oireachtas has not forgotten about them.
Throughout the event, TG4 dedicate their Snapchat to Oireachtas na Samhna. This is a great tool, it hooks people in. Everyone is excited to be part of the Snapchat story and watch it “the morning after the night before”. The story entails anything from speaking with competition winners, snippets of the music, singing sessions or images and videos from the parties held every night. I think it would be a great endeavour if the Oireachtas had their own Snapchat channel posting their own story, behind the scenes, the excitement setting up for the festival, the craic that goes on during the long weekend. Video is everything and SnapChat is on the rise in terms of social media platforms, especially among the younger generation.
Speaking of video, I also think the Oireachtas would benefit hugely by having a YouTube channel of their own. When searching YouTube you find loads of professional and non professional videos of past events- professional video footage of the singing and dancing competitions as they are filmed live for TG4. Maybe its because they do not own the rights to the footage but I think it would be well worth their while if they hired their own semi professional crew who filmed the events, did vox pop interviews with attendees and competitors and posted these videos on Facebook, Twitter and on the website. It would give first time attendees a chance to get a taste of the weekend before they go, plus it would act as a memorable token for the annual goers.
Oireachtas na Samhna begins to trend leading up to and during the event with the use of #s from their own use as well as the event goers- which lately has become extremely popular among the younger generation. This year #OnaS16 is being used and this documents the event online and creates a buzz.
Another tool which I think would be beneficial to the Oireachtas would be if they implemented the EventBrite app for their ticket sales. Currently you can buy the tickets online on their website or at the event itself. Different colour wristbands come with the different kinds of packages you buy- full festival tickets vs particular events. This works perfectly fine and not every event out there uses apps like EventBrite but it is just another handy tool in the digital sphere that could be implemented without confusion as 70% of people in Ireland own a smartphone.
For such a traditional event I feel the digital marketing strategies which are being undertaken are impressive, however there is room for improvement for the event to become more digital savvy. There is so much more depth to the digital sphere and a much bigger reach is available when your digital marketing strategies are implemented correctly.