Ozark Empire Fairgrounds and Event Center offers over 100,000 square feet of indoor space, 76 acres of land, and ample parking for a variety of events. The facility is home to the Annual Ozark Empire Fair and over 100 other events year round.
I had the opportunity to meet Aaron Owen from the Ozark Empire Fair. I took a look at the social media his wife, Jennifer, does for the business.
I won't say branding a business that literally exists to make people happy is easy. Because I don't think it is. In fact, it may be MORE challenging because you have to get outside your assumptions to make it the most powerful! And the assumptions surrounding a business like this would be hard to get past, based in personal experience, testimonials, and even history. They are core to our identities!
And on the lower levels of marketing, that's ok. When you're starting out, it's ok to work off assumptions to get going. When you are ready to grow, though, you need to be able to step outside where you've been to get to where you want to be.
When I first started checking out Ozark Empire Fairgrounds' social media, I was delighted by their Instagram! Their Insta-game has got SO MUCH good going on! Lots of color, quirky angles, and great shots of the sights and sounds we associate with fairground fun! Even without the countdown of # of days left, I wanted to BE THERE!!!
Here are some of the things they are doing right!
🙌 Developed hashtag #OEFPhotoo)--Users generated content for this hashtag. Everyday one would be selected for Fazoli's Photo of the Day. Wish I knew more about how they managed this. Looks like it was successful!
💥 Patriotic design themes (without being confused as a political campaign) reinforces the American pastime of the county fair.
🤡 A bit of behind-the-scenes/get to know our people creates community feeling, reinforcing the wholesomeness of the activity.
🥖Capturing the sensual aspects of what makes the fairground special--merry-go-round, carnival food, rodeo... You can almost smell the fried food!
🧵 Historical photos, multi-generation shots- A bit of nostalgia goes a long way in making the fair an annual event for families.
🤝 Tagging sources! Increases reach, and you should always give credit where credit is due! This is unfortunately a massive issue in social media right now.
As I said, it's great! I love it, and I love going to their IG.
But it can be SO MUCH MORE!
Considering how many tens of thousands of people come into their events, there should be more than just 1,000 followers.
And let's talk about why it matters.
There's the obvious--the more people who come into the event(s), the more money the business makes from admissions.
But the secondary goal is to provide a reason for their vendors to come to their fair. It's a symbiotic relationship--the vendors provide the experience, the event center provides the crowd. Essentially, the event center is a marketing source in of itself.
So, the bigger online presence they have, the better they can serve their vendors, not only by bringing in customers, but also by providing additional marketing services (that could be paid opportunities or increase demand and, therefore, rent space pricing.
It's important to note that their Facebook following is much larger (44,237 followers and 91,962 check-ins!!!). I suspect the Facebook focus was much earlier and much more comfortable to the owners.
But Facebook is a different game... and a different audience.
Even if it's literally the same people looking at the same images on both platforms. When Jane Doe is on Facebook, she is one audience. When @JaniDoe is on Instagram, she is a different audience.
Different expectations. Different objectives. Different reactions. Different results.
The benefit of IG is that it can attract younger audiences who are focused on experiences with their friends and families, less on nostalgia and more on nostalgia-in-the-making, whereas Facebook is more... practical and real (more, not completely, lol). Facebook typically leans more toward community building, Instagram toward sensuality. Chasing the ideal. Living in the moment. Which is the perfect place for a fairground to wallow.
That's not to say the differences are cut and dry, but they're nuanced.
So why should OEF amp up their IG?
For this industry, the reach for images, lifestyle, and experiences can go much farther on IG than on Facebook. Especially with the development of hashtags and relevant IG communities.
To improve their Insta-game, I would highly encourage:
And a side note... the website looks like not only a different business, but a different industry altogether.
I totally acknowledge the website audience is completely set apart from the social media. The website is for vendors and people interested in the other services they provide.
But I would still yet like to see it updated with cohesive branding across all platforms. And I would love to see fresh, vibrant branding that can easily be placed on their social media marketing!
This would be a super fun account to work on, wouldn't it?!?!
Downtown- Bentonville, Arkansas
When your daughter's 13th birthday happens to be during a pandemic, you do what you can to make it a special day. So she met a masked friend, got "trashed" at Trash Creamery in Downtown Bentonville, and then walked around downtown, socially distanced, taking glamour shots with the incredible murals. They had fun. Whew!
But let me tell you about Trash Creamery. First, they’re awesome. Basically, they have a ton of junk to put on #icecream. Almost literally trash. Potato chips even. Their ingredients are mind blowing, but their preconceived combos are downright titillating.
But what I really want to talk about is their branding. And when I say branding, I don't mean just a cool logo and color palettes. (Although, Trash has those down, too. Look at them! They're AWESOME!!!)
Branding is way more, and they know it.
Their use of vintage 80s images is smart and fresh (not stale and cheesy as so often is the case). They use the icons of our childhood and make jokes out of them that are either timeless or modernly relevant.
Before covid, they had more decor, utilizing real estate even on the napkin holders to reinforce their brand. They still have great decor (see images), and they currently have an igloo of ice cream containers... which besides being fun, also clearly communicates you can get ice cream To Go with very little melting.
The store is bright and clean, fresh even. Which is good for a food place anyway, but is very consistent with their brand. And the customer service is just as light, friendly, and a bit quirky as the overall theme.
Their social media game is a beautiful collection of food shots, people having fun, funny vintage memes, and a lot of color consistency.
Their website is nothing to be impressed by… except that their lack of focus on it is actually really smart. Their target audience will find them and reviews easier on Yelp, social media, and these outlets through Google. So there's no reason to keep up a website as long as you are everywhere you actually need to be and have ensured your brand is consistent across all these places.
I'm a huge fan of their food, their service, and their branding... AND the fact that it's super cohesive.
I 💜Trash!!! ✌🏻🤩🐷🍨
Tara Cloud Clark provides freelance consultation, strategy, and implementation for Branding and Identity, Social Media and Content, and Project Management. Here she provides tips on these topics.