Social media skyrockets Henty field days into digital age

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September 24, 2013

One of the most surprising highlights of Henty’s 50th anniversary Machinery Field Days was the emergence of social media as a force to be reckoned with.

Henty’s own Facebook page skyrocketed from an average weekly reach of around 3000 in the weeks leading up to the field days, to peak at more than 92,000 people by field day conclusion.

Media manager Kim Woods said Facebook proved the ideal medium to engage directly and instantly with exhibitors and visitors on weather and traffic reports, daily programs and activities on-site.

“We were stunned by the result – it came completely out of left field and caught us unaware,’’ Ms Woods said.

“The rapid emergence of social media has taken the event into new frontier – the digital age.

“We had visitors walking around the site with iphones, ipads and androids in hand but unable to access the digital information they were looking for.

“We are now considering developing a mobile phone app for next year’s field days.’’

Going into the field days, Henty’s Facebook page had a weekly reach averaging around 3000 people – this jumped to 11,000 on the opening day, hitting 78,000 by Wednesday evening and peaking at 92,507 on Friday morning.

“Although the campaign was orchestrated, I had to admit I have never seen anything like it in 32 years of working in the media,’’ Ms Woods said.

“I had a quick meeting with our on-site radio announcers, Jim Booth and Ash Keenan, on the Monday morning, and we decided to make a concerted effort on Facebook and, to a lesser degree, Twitter.

“We quickly realised people were passionate about the field days and wanted to share their interest, pass comment and ask questions.

“I was posting news and the daily programs the evening before so people could make the decision whether to come.

“Each morning at 6am I was posting information on the weather, site and traffic conditions, and attractions for the day, and answering queries.

“Jim Booth kept the information flow happening during the day, uploading photos taken on his mobile phone and adding news updates.

“During the traffic delays on Thursday, people were accessing Facebook for the latest updates on carparking etc.’’

Ms Woods said people unable to attend the field days posted messages of thanks for all the daily news keeping them up to date.

There was also international interest from people in the UK, USA and New Zealand.

The preferred method of access was mobile phone.

On analysis, around 71 per cent of the Facebook users were female, and surprisingly over 20,000 originated in the Sydney area.

“Everyone assumes teenagers are the biggest Facebook users but according to the statistics, the largest group at 25 per cent were aged 25-34 years, followed by 35-44 years on 19 per cent,’’ Ms Woods said.

“The 55-64 year age group comprised 2.2 per cent, just behind the 13-17 year-olds on 2.7 per cent.’’

Ms Woods said the Twitter traffic during the field days was only marginal.

“But one Tweeter summed up the depth of feeling among field day goers – he wrote: Back home in God’s Country. Going to the Henty field day @Hentyfielddays #afarmersheaven,’’ she said.