Summer is winding down and while that saddens the heck out of this sun-loving Minnesotan, there is one silver lining to this time of year...state fair time. Being married to a huge Minnesota State Fair fanatic, I've come to enjoy our fine Minnesota get-together quite a bit myself.
Minnesota is known for having one of the largest (second only to Texas) state fairs in the nation. For me, one thing that I've been impressed with of late is their great attention to social media. @MinnStateFair has been tweeting since 2009 and they have an impressive following on Facebook with an engaged community. Not only that, they developed a Minnesota State Fair mobile app and mobile website for navigating attractions and (of course) food. They've even hosted our local Social Media Breakfast a few years in a row and the organization conducted a Foursquare Scavenger Hunt back in 2010.
So...it got me thinking...how do others stack up, social media-wise?
I conducted some casual, unscientific research that included asking for feedback on Twitter and doing some random searching and selecting of my own.
I got my first response from Laura Kimball:
Seing as how Laura is from Washington, I decided to start there. With a little help from Laura, we found @EvergreenFairWA and @PuyallupFair (What? Two little fairs for one state and not a big statewide one? Ok, I digress.)
Evergreen State Fair
On Twitter, @EvergreenFairWA is not very active and has only a small following. They do, however, have a decent-sized (5,096 fans) following on Facebook, where they have some engagement, but posts are a little monotonous (contest and countdown to opening day). They are running social media contests...but, in a bit of an "un-social" way. People are instructed to like or follow on Facebook/Twitter where they will post contest details or codes. Then, they are required to submit this information via email. (Not via DM or Facebook app?) Another woops? The link to Twitter on their contest page goes to Twitter.com, not to the actual Twitter account.
Compared to Evergreen, @PuyallupFair is wee bit more active (it's worth noting that they hold two events per year, though) with more of a following. Posts are typically announcing concert updates, and (at the time of this post) the last update was on July 11. Puyallup has a pretty large (53,643) fan base and engagement on Facebook. They have a blog, too, but no posts since October, 2011.
Moving on in my "research," I took a look at the largest state fair in the country, The State Fair of Texas. A quick glance at their website, and I see they not only have a presence on Twitter and Facebook, but YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest. Texas does it big. At the time of this post, on Twitter, @StateFAirOfTX has 11,454 followers (compared to Minnesota's 16,678). I was also a little disappointed to see that their tweets are being fed into Facebook, and there's no engagement happening there.
Moving on to Facebook, State Fair of Texas has an impressive 55K (give or take) fans (compared to Minnesota's 294K...) and while there's little engagement on behalf of the fair, fans are certainly engaged with posts via likes and comments. Their Instagram feed features images that also are posted on Facebook (the ones that originated in Twitter). Additional images are featured on Pinterest across 12 boards. Nice images, not a lot of activity, but props for being there. Same story on YouTube - 16 videos, 13,162 views, not a lot of activity, but decent eye candy. (Who doesn't want to see state fair piglets having lunch?)
If my own Twitter following is any indication, there's quite an active social media community in Alabama, so I decided to see what they had going related to the Alabama State Fair. The website links only to a Facebook page with a following of just over 1,157 and not a ton of engagement happening. (So, my #BAMA Twitter friends - you know who you are - help them out, maybe?)
The Ohio State Fair is said to be one of the nation's largest as well, just after Texas and Minnesota. So, time to head back to the Midwest and see what they are doing on social media. @OhioStateFair has a modest following of 3,779 (at the time of this post) but they don't reciprocate follows to a large portion. There was quite a bit of action and engagement during the fair (which just ended last Saturday). Over on Facebook, the Ohio State Fair has 52,380 fans (at the time of this post) and some nice engagement - again, the fair just took place, so prime time for connecting.
The Ohio State Fair also has a mobile app featuring a food finder and, new this year, "Pin" your parking spot function. Well done, Ohio. Well done.
Time to take a look at something on the east coast. It would seem that New York and New Jersey each have fairly large state fairs. I took a look at New York...just, because it's New York. At the time of this post, @NYSFair has 4,524 followers and posts are gearing up for the fair starting later this month. Not a lot of engagement happening here, though. No back and forth conversation, and, not following nearly the amount following them, indicating that conversation really isn't a priority.
They have some more activity happening on Facebook, though, with 86,519 (at the time of this post - are you getting sick of that disclaimer yet? Because I sure am.) and nice engagement. They also feature a (somewhat) interactive Fair Food Finder and interactive map of the fairgrounds.
So, there you have it. At the time of this post, my eyelids are getting heavy and, as much as I'd like to, I'm going to refrain from reviewing all 50 states for their state fair social media presence. In this very subjective, totally un-scientific analysis, a few things are apparent. The bigger the fair, the more robust the presence. (Not shocking.) And, among the biggies, I say Minnesota and Ohio are both doing a fine job. Very close tie between these two Midwestern states.
Really, this can be a lesson in social media content (are you seriously still reading this post? Wow. Thank you.) Bigger and more isn't always better. Understand your audience. Give them what they need to interact with you. Experiences at a massive event taking place in a physical geographic location can be made easier through the proper use of social media. Don't just do it to do it. Do it to create a more meaningful experience. (You know, have a STRATEGY.)
What say you? Feel free to add your own state to this list in the comments.
I’m a consultant, strategist, author, educator, and speaker with more than 30 years of professional experience. I’m passionately curious, fairly sassy, kinda dorky and seriously good at what I do.