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Hughes blog post: The digital festival experience – has it taken the madness out of March?

13 February 2015    

Roll up, roll up! Come and see the mystical and magical city of Adelaide come alive! Watch our borders burst with performers, spectators and proud South Australians or ‘Radelaideans’ as we host a series of events and festivals throughout ‘Frantic February’ and ‘Mad March’.


South Australia’s festival season is jammed packed full of spectacular (and sometimes, not so spectacular) events which every year has me thinking, where on earth do I start?

Many conversations during this time of year quickly turn to which Festival acts are on the agenda based on the reviews we’ve seen and read online. Gone are the days where I would gather my mountain of programs and start exploring the pages to find the essential ‘must sees’ for the festival season. Now I turn to online tweeps, Instagram fans and Facebook friends to get the lowdown.

So why are people turning to digital channels for events?

The age of social media and the advent of smartphones in recent years, means everyone has the power to broadcast their real-time experiences and this is particularly prevalent in the events sector. WOMO (aka word of mouth) is huge online.

The power of word of mouth has always played a fundamental role in business, especially in show business with artists and event organisers engaging close-knit social media communities by tapping into trending hashtags to drive event numbers, hosting exclusive VIP event previews, and driving content through buzzing social media channels.

On the flip side, mobile phones and social media have drastically changed the way audiences interact with artists in the lead up to and at events, and perhaps even more importantly, with fans who aren’t physically present.  I know I’m often guilty of ‘gramming’ my moment-for-moment event experience because let’s face it, if it wasn’t on Instagram, it never happened (jokes).

Every act visiting our city this year, whether small or major, will have a plethora of digital platforms to provide a human face to meet fans expectations and help turn digital conversations into hard dollars, tickets!

Just take a look at the platforms available for the annual Adelaide Fringe - You can Like Adelaide Fringe on Facebook, Follow @Adelaide_fringe on Twitter and @adlfringe on Instagram (Don’t forget the hugely popular #ADLFringe), watch videos on YouTube, download the free 2015 Adelaide Fringe app via iTunes, plus get the latest reviews on the Principal Partner Bank SA’s Talk Fringe website. Not to mention the number of platforms for Fringe precincts such as the Royal Croquet Club (#RoyalCroquetClub), Garden of Unearthly Delights (#GOUD15), Gluttony (#Gluttony15), and The Big Slapple at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Each channel has its own engaged community discussing and sharing their event experiences, providing users with first-hand feedback and direct access to the event organisers and artists.

Businesses are built on word of mouth and like any good event, the better you perform online – the bigger the standing ovation!

- Belinda Scott