Every month we bring in a guest author to discuss our social media theme of the month and when it came to Events + Social Media, we knew exactly who we wanted, the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) team.
The Grass Roots Media team has worked with the CEDA marketing team on more than one occasion and every time we are impressed with the calibre of experience and excellence in their work. The team at CEDA are responsible for delivering growth through business attraction, development and retention, building and growing a sustainable talent and skills pool, building Manawatu’s reputation as a great region to host major events and conferences, and promoting Manawatu to visitors, potential residents and international students as a great place to live, study, work and visit.
Part of this work includes the delivery of three flagship events focused on sector development (New Zealand AgriFood Week, Sort It Careers Expo and the Westpac Manawatu Business Awards biennially), as well as supporting the promotion of regional and local events through regional social media channels.
They recently managed and delivered New Zealand AgriFood Week - a week-long primary industry extravaganza that celebrates and showcases New Zealand as a food nation. Within the week there are 15 collaborative events, with hundreds of attendees at these events and thousands through the gates at Central Districts Field Days. This number of events, sponsors and partners, requires multiple promotion strategies, hashtags, key messages, and social media accounts.
We caught up with their busy team for 15 minutes to share their experience using social media as an important tool for this event.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us! So, now that you are officially finished with New Zealand Agrifood Week, how do you feel you promoted and captured the event using social media?
New Zealand AgriFood Week featured more than 15 events that were a mixture of CEDA led events and partnership events. Social media played a leading role in how we communicated and marketed them in the months and weeks leading up to, and throughout the week. There was no shortage of interesting and engaging content, across industries from farming, to food tech, science and new food products!
Social media is a crucial tool to help spread the message and purpose of the week, get consumers and people in the industry engaged in conversations and raise awareness of the events on offer to get as many people as possible to attend them, or watch online and engage with the content and topics of the event.
Our strategy this year involved a multi-pronged and platform approach, across social and digital media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram), the New Zealand AgriFood Week website and email marketing lists that we have through CEDA and previous NZAFW years. We also leveraged our partners’ social media channels and their existing email databases, which gave us an even larger audience who are already engaged and have a keen interest in the themes and topics around the primary sectors.
We worked closely with the speakers and presenters in AgriFood Week events (ASB Perspective 2025 and AgResearch Future Feeders) to encourage them to promote their involvement in the event, on their own social media channels, to let their audience and followers know they were going to be speaking, driving wider engagement.
Leveraging our speakers’ connections and followers on social media also helped to reach a wider audience and when you know someone who’s involved in an event it’s almost more of a celebration, so we know that kind of content performs strongly.
We know our communication and marketing approach really worked, as ASB Perspective 2025 was a sell-out event and we had maximum numbers for registrations for AgResearch Future Feeders! And that day (Wednesday March 13) the hashtag #NZAgriFoodWeek was trending on Twitter.
As it is an industry specific event, it helps that the farming and food producing industries are active on social media, especially Twitter, so we see a high engagement rate in our posts. And this year we trialled video advertising on YouTube which was a huge success with a high click through rate from the video to our website.
Even though the ‘week’ has technically finished, and most people have returned home, there is plenty of work to be done and we want to continue a leading role in the conversations around the future of food.
We’ll be carefully reviewing what worked well and not so well with our marketing and engagement tools to build an even greater targeted campaign for 2020. We know that event marketing can be really tricky, so we make sure we capture audience feedback soon after the event while it’s fresh in their minds to help us gauge how we went, and what we can build and improve on for the next one!
With social media, it’s not over and there is never an end if we want to build a year round conversation. This is actually a critical time to use social media to maintain momentum, share photos, videos, build relationships, continue conversations and continue to pique interest after the event.
Well, it was certainly a team effort and required plenty of communication and established roles. It definitely helped us promote and build up the momentum for the week of events and even reach people who couldn’t attend our headline events themselves. There were some invaluable messages shared and we were glad to have a tool to be able to pass them along to others who couldn’t make it to the Manawatu.
How do you find tweeting, posting, and sharing posts in real time? Was it difficult?
We love this part of the job as it requires quick thinking on your feet and summarising the best parts of what each speaker says, in real time. You must listen carefully and pull out aspects that are important and will be good talking points for followers, find points that you think might not be controversial but are good talking points. We find it’s always good to have a notebook on hand so you can write down the important things and then form them into a post when there is a slower point of the presentation, conversation or day. Of course, it helps that the content of the events was really interesting, and we had such high calibre speakers!
We find the more you do this, the better you become, and our team has a range of experience in turning around content quickly. We also work closely as a team, so there may be a few of us taking notes so we can sense check comments and quotes.
We run quite a few events so you get used to it the more you do it. We highly suggest writing and scheduling the generic content in advance and having an idea of some of the content you want to write. This gives you space to concentrate on reactive posts during the event, liking sharing and retweets.
Each event and speakers’ presentations mean there is a gold mine of content, throughout the day and in to the future, so now we just need to map out how we’ll continue the conversation, while keeping an eye out for interesting content we can share from news organisations, partners or blogs, for example.
This being said, for some members of our team there was a steep learning curve as we were working with an industry specific event. Some members of our team are comfortable communicating about the agrifood sector while others had to learn a new vocabulary, industry leaders names, and hot topics. This meant we had to work as a team, always working to lay a second pair of eyes on before we clicked “POST” to make sure our messaging was on point — even in real time.
Those are some great practical tips! Do you have any others for our readers who will be planning their own 2019 event?
Yes! So many tips.
Firstly, before you get started on ramping up your marketing and communication activity, we suggest making sure your event is listed in all the right places, like Eventfinda, with a range of high quality and engaging photos, and a description that is clear and informative so people can understand what to expect if they attend. When events are listed on Eventfinda, they appear on its national website, and the events also appear on our regional website, ManawatuNZ.co.nz. Eventfinda is the only national events platform and it’s free.
Then, think strategically about who you could partner with and ask them to share your content – if it’s good content it’s likely to be engaged with regardless, but the more people who know about it and want to share it with their audience, the further your messages will spread. This may be your event sponsors, the companies that your speakers and presenters work for, or community and industry groups online who know that your content will be of interest to their networks.
Involve your speakers and presenters in sharing messages and their involvement in the event as early as possible. Their followers will engage in that content and are likely to either attend the event as a result or engage with the event online.
Before each event find the handles of the speakers and partners and have them on hand. Trying to find them mid-event takes away from your time concentrating on the important messages. Also have information about speakers' titles and background on hand. It was helpful to have the brochures or notes in front of us to make sure we had the correct titles and information.
Take a calculate risk when trialling different social media techniques, it’s good to try something new and social media allows you to pivot if one platform out performs another, within budget restrictions. For instance, we trialled a short video ad on Instagram, which we pulled through from Facebook. This performed really well, and we saw ticket sales from the platform, so it just goes to show your audience is everywhere.
Always monitor your content, you never know what people will comment or how they may react to content. We always have a rule, get two pairs of eyes to check content before it’s published – once it’s out there it’s out there and while you can delete it, brand reputation may have already been damaged, depending on what is said and how it’s reacted to.
And finally, always have a battery pack for your devices or charger and find a seat near a power plug. You may be on it all day and you don’t want to miss a critical photo or point because you are in the hallway charging your phone.
Wow! Thanks for sharing your insights CEDA team. We love your work. To see a taste of what they do for New Zealand AgriFood Week, check out @nzagrifoodweek (FB, Twitter) and #NZAgriFoodWeek on all social accounts. Take a look at their regional social media accounts too, @manawatu_nz (FB, Twitter, Insta), @mymanawatunz (FB) and @CentralEDA (Twitter). There are some good things to learn.
As we have shared before, and we will share it again, don’t forget social media as part of your event planning process - before, during and after an event. If you find yourself in an event pickle: not enough hands on deck, uncertain how to use it for your event, or how to incorporate it into your plan — we would love to help.
This month we are offering a free downloadable and a $47 package that will help you solve your event and social media problems.
Finally, send us an invitation for your event — and your event hashtag and handles — and we will be sure to share it on our pages. Good luck!
Trista Burn is an American-born-Kiwi-by-marriage communications specialist. A dairy farmer’s daughter, and a legacy deeply rooted in ag, Trista firmly believes in the value of agvocating and sharing stories. In other words - the heartbeat of GRM.
Home made Apple Pie, Mexican food, soft chocolate chip cookies and coffee are the way to Trista's heart. She’s known for throwing a themed dinner party or two and they usually involve costumes. Her Gallup Strengths Finder test results lands her squarely as the team cheerleader and it couldn’t be more true, so we don’t let her forget it.