How we reached an audience of 76,000 for the Kelowna Apple Triathlon without the help of traditional media

[tabs style=”boxed”] [tab title=”Post”] Social Media tools present huge opportunities for event organizers to promote events and keep spectators informed.

The event itself is mostly only the highlight of a campaign and/or the ongoing work of an organization. The benefits of having your event highly publicised are many. Exposure, fundraising and membership drives are probably the most obvious. Events are also great ways to build your Social Media following for your future work.

There are three phases to a Social Media Event Campaign:

  1. Preparation
  2. Live Reporting
  3. Recap


This part often seems the most tedious in the process. But “Social Media is not a sprint – it’s a marathon” and the longer your Social Media channels exist the more likely you will gain the attention of the influencers you want to attract to your message. Twitter and Facebook are likely the best tools to reach many people for most organisations. MySpace, Pinterest and YouTube could be interesting platforms to pursue depending on the audience your event is trying to reach.

Talk about your event and the preparations, call for volunteers and send out “behind the scenes” reports. Facebook Events are powerful tools to remind spectators and athletes to mark their calendars. Make sure people can invite their friends and share your event notification!

The Voice

Over the years I’ve had some interesting discussions about the question:

Do we use a dedicated Twitter account for the event or do we stick with the main account supported by loyal fans?


A dedicated event account ties together all the messages about the event. It becomes a unified voice for the event regardless of how many people use the @handle. Followers not interested in the event won’t get frustrated by a mass of tweets from the regular account[/twocol_one] [twocol_one_last]Con

However,you have (hopefully) spent a long time building and engaging a large follower base that has come to trust and like you. It seems a shame to leave this potential for audience participation untapped.

Unless you are planning to hold your event only once, the increased exposure for your organisation by using your usual @handle during your event is a huge opportunity to grow your network. [/twocol_one_last]

Live Reporting

Live Reporting is an awesome opportunity to draw in a whole other layer of spectators. Over the last couple of years we have covered our local Dragon Boat Festival mainly using Twitter. The event is not important enough for the traditional media to send reporters TV or radio crews. So we installed a wifi hotspot right on the beach and had some volunteers tweet pictures and results. The results are overwhelming – we’ve had conversations with interested Twitter users during the event and we always had great feedback from the friends and families of the visiting teams that could not make the trip to Kelowna. Likely one of the biggest sucesses for me is seeing more and more dragon boat festivals doing the similar thing. Our small event set a trend!

This year I assembled a team of friends to cover the prestigious Kelowna Apple Triathlon, a two day event that draws more than 3,200  athletes and spectators from all over the world. We used Facebook, Twitter and the live Blogging Platform “Cover it Live” to report (You can see the live feeds in the second tab of this post).

Cover It Live pulls in the Twitter stream as well as all the contributions from the “reporters” on the race course. We blogged the announcers’ commentaries and a lot of pictures but also pre-recorded trivia, athletes’ bios and the logos of the event sponsors.

Considering that this was the first time we offered this service, we had a huge success – here are some highlights of the stats:


Kelowna Apple Triathlon Social Media reporting Infographic


As exhausted as we are after the event, we can’t forget the recap! Here you can show your new fans that you are not a “one hit wonder”.

Post Pictures, reports and videos on your Facebook page! Make sure you blog about the results, what worked and what didn’t. Solicit suggestions for improvement from your followers. Remember, engaging your followers is key to sucessful use of Social Media tools.

What is your experience with Social Media use during events?


Image Credit: Michele Rule  [fbshare type=”button” float=”right”] [linkedin_share style=”none” float=”right”] [google_plusone size=”standard” float=”right” annotation=”none” language=”English (UK)”] [twitter style=”horizontal” source=”@tweet4ok” float=”right” use_post_url=”true”]

If you are looking for someone to promote or cover your event – [button link=”” style=”info” color=”orange” text=”dark” window=”yes”]Contact Us![/button]

[/tab] [tab title=”Recorded Streams”][/tab] [/tabs]


Published by Frithjof

Digital media strategist, coach, community manager and CEO of BlueBird Business Consulting. Blogger, podcaster, content creator and teacher with a passion. Favourite quote: “To succeed in the business of the future we have to become the very people we are trying to reach” ~ Brian Solis

Join the Conversation


    1. When you set up your event or during the event you can specify @authors Twitter Lists or #hashtags that should be pulled in. You then have the opportunity to adjust if you want all of the tweets go into the stream or only the most important ones.

    1. I hope there are more points 🙂
      Yes, Castanet has earned a large following in the Okanagan but is very regional. I also doubt that Castanet would have approached us without all the other steps involved

    1. We actually did have conversations with families and fans from England, Holland and the US. This was the first time live reporting for this event – next year athletes, sponsors and fans will expect us. Social Media is not a Sprint – it’s important to start promoting your event as far in advance as possible.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *