State Fair using social networks to sell tickets

The following article is from the UNC Daily Tar Heel about my work with the State Fair press office and their social media team. The article also quotes Chapel Hill native and American Idol participant, Anoop. I have copied the entire article below to make sure I have the article in the future.

The N.C. State Fair is Tweeting, blogging and Facebooking its way to an unprecedented increase in ticket sales.

The fair’s social networking outreach, which began in June 2008, has helped to double ticket sales from this time last year.

With the fair less than two weeks away, more than 16,800 admission tickets have been sold without anyone leaving their homes.

The troubled economy could have helped ticket sales — local attractions become more popular when people can’t afford to travel, said Karlie Justus, state fair public information officer.

The N.C. State Fair is the first state fair to use Twitter to promote ticket sales and fair officials are also using it to encourage potential attendees to tell fair officials what attendees want to see, eat and do at the fair.

“We try to have conversations with people on Twitter so people can relate to us,” Justus said.

“People always want to hear about the new foods and the rides. It has been a really great customer service tool.”

Twitter is facilitating more than just better ticket sales. American Idol contestant and 2008 UNC alumnus Anoop Desai was able to contact the state fair’s management and book a performance — all via Twitter.

“It’s really helpful because you don’t necessarily have to go through a PR firm, you can just put it out there and it happens,” Desai said.

He announced on Twitter that he wanted to perform at the fair and the fair management contacted him after reading it.

“Honestly, he would not be performing at the fair if not for Twitter,” Justus said.

The fair will be Anoop’s first solo performance since American Idol.

“It was something that I wanted to do for people that supported me,” said Desai, a Chapel Hill native.

“I’ve only missed about three fairs in my entire life, so I’m very excited about performing there.”

The fair also is promoting a new event called the Deep Fried Triangle Tweetup, which will bring together local Twitter users at the fairgrounds.

The fair is partnering with Ourhashtag, a social networking company that has organized Tweetups throughout the Triangle area.

Jeff Cohen, social media strategist for Ourhashtag, said the fair partnered with the company in order to attract fans who have participated in Tweetups throughout the region.

“The folks at the fair are trying to reach out to people who wouldn’t necessarily go,” Cohen said. “The Tweetup is designed to make these people feel special, almost like a VIP group.”

The fair is also using a blog called “Deep Fried @ the N.C. State Fair” for publicity. The blog features frequent updates about what will be happening at the fair, a video of Anoop’s training regiment and other ticket sales updates.

A “deep-friend ambassador” was announced Monday on the blog. The winner will attend the pre-fair media lunch, sample the newest fair foods and music and blog and Tweet about the experience on her own personal blog and the official fair blog.

“We want someone to come out and blog about everything,” Justus said.

Jeffrey L Cohen

Jeffrey L Cohen