For more than 40 years, on every Labor Day holiday thousands of costumed men and women revel in “calypso” and “soca” music on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, NY. The West Indian Day Carnival (also known as Brooklyn Carnival or Eastern Parkway Carnival) is a cultural festival of masqueraders, music, and the food and drink of many of the Caribbean communities who live in New York City. Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua, St. Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, Barbados, Guyana Jamaica, and Haiti are among the countries represented. In the days preceding the actual parade on Labor Day, concerts (called “fetes”) featuring popular musical acts from the Caribbean/West Indies are hosted behind the Brooklyn Museum. The patrons of these event are mainly people of Caribbean heritage. WIADCA (The West Indian American Day Carnival Association) are the producers the event. Staffed by unpaid but dedicated volunteers the organization hosts programs year round to promote and celebrate Caribbean culture. Donations, event revenue and sponsor money are used to stage the Carnival. WIADCA’s challenge is to mainstream the WIADCA Carnival to attract many more attendees and generate interest beyond the Caribbean communities. This in turn will bring in higher level sponsors, increase the number and quality of events, and benefit the Carnival and New York City (more tourists, more money spent in the city on hotels, food and tourist attractions). Because who doesn’t want to play in the greatest street party in New York?
WIADCA’s CURRENT USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
WIADCA’S use of social media is limited to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They post actively, and use the right channels for the demographic and the content. WIADCA Carnival is visual and alive and a channel like Instagram is perfect to convey the vibrant colors and the excitement. WIADCA uses the hashtags #wiadca, #Brooklyn labor day parade, #newyorkcaribbeancanival.
1. FACEBOOK : 6,154 likes
What’s working for WIADCA on Facebook:
- The WIADCA Facebook page is active and dynamic, and engagers readers with mentions of references to Caribbean life and culture e.g. Caribbean food, national holidays, events and music artistes.
- Questions are posed to stimulate comment, with some success.
- WIADCA began advertising on Facebook in 2014 and appear to have some inquiries as a result .
- The voice is genuine and credible – one person handles the social media content and is connected and interested in the Caribbean community and WIADCA.
What WIADCA Can Improve on Facebook:
- The commentary is centered around what is going on in Brooklyn and assumes the reader is of Caribbean heritage. While retaining the identity of the brand is important, the page should cater for including a wider cross-section of the public (out of borough and out of state). Giving a recipe for a dish, explaining traditions, the meaning of local parlance, may help.
- Followers of Miami Carnival, Caribana and Boston Carnival attend WIADCA Carnival as well. Leveraging the reach of these other events (e.g.by commenting on their Facebook pages or advertising on their pages) may help increase the audience.
- More photos of the actual WIADCA events should be added and labelled.
- Less specific hashtags should be created and used (not many people know the name WIADCA nor the word “West Indian”) e.g. #Brooklyncarnival, #NYCCarnival
- The site is focused on engaging private individuals but WIADCA has numerous corporate sponsors. Mentions and hyperlinks to the commercial sponsors may result in the sponsors doing the same for WIADCA.
- Include press coverage – links or actual images. This will increase credibility of the organization.
- Link to videos and WIADCA’s other social media sites.
- Have “experts” stimulate conversation e.g. invite a leading musical performer, a mas camp owner or the Borough President post/comment on WIADCA’s activities.
- Event posts need to be “real time.” Days had elapsed before pictures from the 2013 Carnival were posted.
- Post pictures of people at events – lots of them! People will come to the page and tag themselves and their friends
Mashable shared these best tips on using Facebook for non-profits.
2. TWITTER: 450 followers, 550 tweets
WIADCA’s carnival ranks lowest in Twitter engagement among the cultural festivals in NYC.
What’s working for WIADCA on Twitter:
- Variety of followers representing culture, government and individuals
- Frequent tweets.
What WIADCA can improve on Twitter:
- Appearance or “Look’ on Twitter needs to be synched to the WIADCA website. The current Twitter page is not reflective of the color, energy and excitement synonymous with the WIADCA Carnival
- Content of tweets – tweets can be more informative about the actual Carnival. There are many activities in the West Indian/American community that should be covered. More focus is needed on the elements of Carnival e.g. the mas camps, personalities etc. Calls to action e.g. ‘Did you get your costume? I have mine!”
- Interactivity – Engage the audience with open questions, e.g. Who’s your favorite calypsonian? Then compile a list of the top 5 and tweet about it.
- Have performers and artistes at WIADCA events tweet about the event to encourage attendance.
- Consider hosting a monthly tweet chat. Huffington Post had suggestion for how this could work
Here are some great guidelines from Klout on 10 ways to increase engagement on Twitter
3. Instagram: 75 posts, 562 followers
What’s working for WIADCA on Instagram:
- Instagram reaches the 18 to 35 demographic which is perfect for this event
- WIADCA posts great pictures showing aspects of the Carnival event
What WIADCA can improve on Instagram:
- More real time posts during events are needed
- Quality of pictures need improvement – some are blurred, have poor exposure or are too low resolution.
- More frequent posts – sometimes weeks have passed without new content
- Reward people for reading posts and looking at pictures eg. offering discounts on passes to events
- Engage audience – get them to post pictures of their favorite fantasy costume #WIADCAfantasy or their favourite moment from the Carnival #WIADCAlove and get the audience to vote on it.
- Use the video function of Instagram for short clips at events
Mashable has examples of 10 inspiring non profits on Instagram.
4 SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS FOR WIADCA TO CONSIDER
You Tube and Pinterest are two other audio visual social media channels WIADCA should consider to help them promote the event. As the event is still in the “growing phase,” engaging bloggers who will describe the events and the experience may be helpful.
1. You Tube opportunities for WIADCA:
- You Tube offers the opportunity for longer videos and effective visuals. Many other accounts host videos of the Carnival but this is an opportunity for WIADCA to tell their story and generate excitement about the event.
- Clips from actual events, or performances by artistes who will appear at the events should be on this channel
- Teaser videos can also stimulate interest
Here’s a link to You-Tube’s non-profit program
2. Pinterest opportunities for WIADCA:
The overwhelming majority of Pinterest users are women (80 percent) between the ages of 25 and 54. The majority of masqueraders at the Carnival are women in the 18 to 54 category so Pinterest is a great place to promote WIADCA’s Carnival.
- WIADCA should get more diverse people in to create wish boards for the site which will appeal to a wider demographic eg. My Carnival Top 10 Moments
- Pin You-Tube videos of the Carnival events.
3. Blogging opportunities for WIADCA:
Starting and creating a WIADCA blog, perhaps using Tumblr which allows for shorter blogs and pictures) may communicate the idea of what the Carnival constitutes. Blogging allows a non-profit organization to :
- Tell its story
- Raise awareness
- Engage an audience
- Get volunteers
- Raise money (and which non-profit doesn’t need some help with fund-raising?)
Non-profit hub offered these reasons why non-profits can’t afford to wait any longer to blog
4. Google+ opportunities for WIADCA:
- The major benefit of a Google + page is the “findability” it gives you.
- Likes, pins, retweets help organizations move up in the rankings by increasing traffic and generating links.
- Mashable tips in this article give great reasons and how to use SEO and Google+. Matt Cutts from Google also has a great blog full of ideas on using Google and SEO.
- WIADCA should mine deeper levels of social media instead of only using it as a way to provide information. Social media is most effective as two way communication so interaction and engagement should be the focus going forward.
- Wiadca must also shift its focus to the larger market outside Brooklyn. New Yorkers are always looking for new and interesting experiences and the WIADCA Carnival is an authentic event which can enrich the lives of participants and add another reason for visitors to come to New York.
- A measurement plan which measures conversion (to the website, or purchases of tickets or costumes, and the level of engagement as opposed to static likes/clicks) should be put in place to enable assessment and correction where needed.