Taste of Huntington Beach

How A Charity Event Leveraged Social Media to Increase Ticket Sales

I have been a volunteer at the library for about 5 years. The library is like a second home to me and my family. I have been correspondence secretary, usher, and photographer for the Friends of the Children’s Library (FOTCL). They do great work for the community. From puppet shows and ballets to author visits and reading programs, the FOTCL does great work for the community. Their biggest project is the Annual Taste of Huntington Beach, a fundraising event held on the last Sunday of April at the Huntington Beach Sports Complex. The Taste of Huntington Beach gathers local restaurants, wineries and breweries for an incredible afternoon of food and fun!

My responsibilities at the #TasteHB have ranged from runner to ticket taker. But perhaps my biggest most rewarding assignment has been helping out with media. Since last year, I’ve been the volunteer PR and Social Media person for the event. I wrote press releases and established the Taste’s social media channels. But it was only this year that the committee realized the importance of social media in the event. We took a more interactive and integrated approach to social media marketing. It was totally a team effort that paid off in the end.

Over 2,200 people attended the 2015 Taste of Huntington Beach, raising $37,500 for the Children’s Department of the Huntington Beach Public Library. According to Taste of Huntington Beach Chairman Dan Page: “that figure is nearly a 20% increase from last year’s event.”

Dan and HB Cops | Taste HB

Taste of HB Chairman Dan Page with Huntington Beach Police Officers. The TasteHB is an event that brings the Surf City community together.

 

Duke's Restaurant have been a part of the Taste of Huntington Beach for years.

Duke’s Restaurant have been a part of the Taste of Huntington Beach for years.

Looking back, here are some of the things we did right.

Started Promoting the Event at the Right Time

  • Ideally, social media engagement for an annual event should continue throughout the year. However, sometimes promoting an event too far- in advance is not beneficial to the event. By ramping up social media posts four months before the event and not sooner, we were able to build the community and generate buzz about the Taste.
Sample Facebook Post

Sample Post with a graphic counting down to the event. This post was shared by followers of the #TasteHB Facebook page.

Shared responsibilities

  • Since we were all volunteers, it was hard for one person to take on one job full-time. It was a brilliant move on the part of our co-chairperson (Hi Gail!) to realize this early on and decide to divide posting responsibilities. Three main people posted to Facebook, while I posted on Twitter and Instagram. On Facebook, one volunteer was in charge of interacting with vendors and sponsors – she visited their Facebook pages and interacted with them on their pages and ours. Another volunteer was in charge of replying to customer service questions such as cost of tickets, while I shared blog and press pickups and shared news from the community and Taste participants.

 

Boosted posts on Facebook

  • With a very modest budget, selected Facebook posts were boosted to reach a targeted audience

Reached out to community pages and the blogosphere

  • For the first time, the Taste of Huntington Beach partnered with local community pages with big social followings, like Visit Huntington Beach.
  • We reached out to a core group of bloggers and local influencers, most of whom had helped us in the past.They helped us promote the event at least a month before and also provided media coverage of the actual event.
Visit Huntington Beach and Taste of Huntington Beach

The Visitors Bureau, Visit Huntington Beach, ran a Taste of Huntington Beach ticket giveaway promotion. Their Facebook page has over 50,000 fans.

These are just a few of the social media strategies we implemented to help spread the word about the Taste of Huntington Beach in an organic and authentic manner. We had a holistic approach to marketing the event, in which, different committee members had a part to play and each part of the process flowed into the next. A ticket booth event, for example, in Downtown Huntington Beach, was promoted through social media and amplified by our partner community pages and bloggers.  A media launch party involved not only the press but also vendors and volunteers. One element that made the whole endeavor succeed was TRUST. The trust of each committee member, the trust of the Huntington Beach community. The trust in social media, that when leveraged in the right way, would bring positive results.