First founded by Nick Arnold in 2006 to save Appledore Library, Appledore Book Festival has continued to grow as one of North Devon’s most important cultural events. For the past two years, the festival has partnered with BlueFrog Media to expand its brand awareness and social reach. In recent years, Appledore Book Festival has grown drastically in popularity and prestige, steadfastly making a name for itself as one of the UK’s most unmissable literary events. The more well known the festival became, the more opportunity it had to attract exciting new speakers year after year, as well as providing important contributions to its surrounding community. Appledore Book Festival became a great way to attract tourism to an area reliant on its industry, as well as promoting local businesses, and most importantly, growing the literary love within North Devon and reaching out to local schools.
For the festival to continue to grow the national recognition it was receiving, it was vital that it create a digital and social presence. Rather than only reaching local people as in its original years, there was now a goal not only to draw in an audience from the rest of North Devon, but the wider South West, and even further afield. The key goals then were to increase ticket sales, encourage a variety of audiences - appealing not only to the typical literary attendee, but others who may not have previously considered attending the festival - as well as generating excitement for the up and coming events. BlueFrog began working with Appledore Book Festival for their 2017 launch. We provided a full service package for them, taking on their content marketing, graphic design, and enlisting the help of our Community Management team, which was then reinstated last year - just in time for us to help promote the 2018 festival.
In the months leading up to the events, we helped devise a content marketing strategy that would focus on reaching the established goals. Our design team worked with the client to create a particular branding to enhance recognisability and amplify the content that we were now putting out. Posts were regular, with a particular emphasis on competitions; giving away tickets to events, especially sold out ones, encouraged excitement for the upcoming author talks as well as allowing us ample opportunity to engage with fans of the festival, generating discussion about literature and what events they were excited for. Our partnership with other North Devon tourism pages and businesses provided us with a unique opportunity to create campaigns suitable for both clients; we were able to shape some of their own content to work around the festival, promoting it to local people and visitors of the area. In turn, we could share this content on the Appledore Book Festival social channels, allowing us a constant stream of fresh content to promote and engage with, as well as offering further promotion for our local clients.
Particularly on Twitter, we created content to engage with the authors invited to the festival, whose responses and retweets would simultaneously promote the festival across to their often thousands of followers. We used social listening tools to further engage with authors as well as fans, thus drawing further attention towards the branding of the festival and its reach. This also ensured that we didn’t miss any opportunities to incentivise visits to other local people whose interest would otherwise not been registered; similarly, our Community Management team were on hand to offer advice about accommodation and travel to the area, which was a massive asset to encouraging attendance from a non-local audience.
The social campaign definitely saw an increase in the social audience of Appledore Book Festival, as well as its reach; in 2018, our strategy saw an increase of 500 followers during the few short months that we were posting promotional content. This has expanded the overall audience of the festival exponentially, ensuring that when promotion begins for 2019’s festival, there will already be a huge demographic to reach out to that is much more varied than in previous years. In addition, both 2017 and 2018 saw the content which we posted reach over 100,000 organic impressions, garnering up to over 2000 engagements on Twitter and 1000 on Facebook each year. With a predominant focus on discussing authors, literature and promoting the upcoming talks and events, we were able to generate a huge buzz and feeling of excitement in the build up to the festival.
The most encouraging outcome of the social campaign though can be seen in the incredible turnout that Appledore Book Festival 2018 saw; as reported by the North Devon Gazette, the festival reached record breaking ticket sales in comparison to previous years. Multiple events had to be moved to bigger venues to allow for the sheer volume of hopeful attendees, with huge queues forming at the local box office demonstrating the increased popularity of the event with North Devon locals. Discussions are already being had about BlueFrog Media working with Appledore Book Festival when marketing begins for its 2019 run. If you’re also interested in implementing our social media services for your business, get in touch any time.