Our client success team had a chance to chat with Grace Seekins, who freelances as a festival marketing and community engagement manager. She shares with us the value she finds in overseeing ambassador programs and additional trends in contemporary festival marketing.
What’s your name?
What’s your title?
Freelance Festival Marketing/Community Engagement Manager
What’s your role at AC Entertainment?
Grassroots Marketing Manager (Bonnaroo, Forecastle, Railbird)
What was the first festival you attended and what was your favorite thing about it?
In high school I went to Firefly in its first few years – it was my first music festival, my first camping festival, all of the above, and I was totally hooked. I saw music I loved, I discovered incredible new bands, but most of all I found myself surrounded by a bastion of positivity and energy and I was so happy to be a part of a much larger community of people enjoying and engaging with music. This was really the first time I experienced this large scale, music driven community mentality.
How did you get into the festival industry? What’s your favorite thing about your field of work?
When I started learning about and working in the music industry after college I knew I wanted to work towards being involved in festivals because of my interest in the community element of larger scale events. I started working on grassroots marketing and engagement for Bonnaroo thanks to a word of mouth opportunity that popped up and then other clients and contracts came from connections I made therein.
My favorite part of the work is engaging with patrons and fans and getting to talk to them about their festival experience – whether they’ve been coming for years or it’s their first time, it’s so moving to hear about the moments during the weekend that make a difference for them and what an impact the festival experience makes on their life overall.
What value do you feel ambassador programs bring to word of mouth marketing?
I would love to have personal conversations with each and every potential attendee, answer questions, attempt to communicate the breadth of the festival experience..but there aren’t nearly enough hours in the day. Ambassador programs allow this to happen on a smaller scale – our most enthusiastic ambassadors act on the front lines of word of mouth marketing, convincing their friends and classmates and coworkers that this is a weekend that is worth their time and money, an experience that will change their lives for the better.
Are there any ambassadors from your SocialLadder program that stood out? What made them stand out to you?
In taking a look over the ambassadors that really stood out on the Railbird Festival leaderboard, not only was Tess Anderson (@tesssanderson) the top performing ambassador, but her personal and thoughtful digital presence regarding the festival really caught my eye. Clearly a huge fan of Tyler Childers, she thoughtfully and personally documented her experience over the weekend as a superfan and festival attendee in a way that expressed the level of emotion she felt during the weekend and effect that a weekend of music can have on each of us.
What do you feel is unique about integrating ambassador programs into festival marketing?
There are a few things I really appreciate about the integration of ambassador programs into festival marketing. It gives the most dedicated and committed fans an outlet for their brand enthusiasm and bring them into the fold in a way that makes them a functional part of the marketing effort. It builds community within these fans, providing opportunities for a more unique and involved festival experience. And it renders the festival experience more accessible – budget and monetary accessibility can be a huge stumbling block for many and to provide people with the ability to work for their ticket and other special experiences is so important.
What do you feel is in store for the future of festival marketing?
Outside of the festival weekend, so much of the festival community the rest of the year lives in the digital sphere – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, etc. I would love to see festivals seek to engage with their fanbase and demographic year round in more tangible and experiential ways, whether that be fan meet-ups, sponsored shows, social events, etc. There’s an opportunity here to not only cultivate a dedicated community year round, but to introduce people to the festival and convert potential ticket buyers.
Are there any brands that you feel are disrupting festival marketing with their portfolio of events? What do you feel they’re doing differently?
The events that I’m really curious to learn more about are the artist driven festivals. These teams can tap into existing passionate followings and specifically curate experiences for an existing fanbase and demographic – tailoring the festival based on the artist and what they know resonates with their audience. This, and the inclusion of large scale corporate brands in the festival production space also intrigues me – Amazon’s involvement in Intersect is an example here.