Social Media Success

My first post and it’s a success story!

Knowsley Safari Park has just won the Eden TV Wildlife Attraction of the Year award for 2010.  The Eden TV channel specialise in nature and wildlife programming and are part of the UKTV group, they show some good stuff and have a partnership with the BBC for all their wildlife shows so have all the David Attenborough stuff.  It’s a great award to have as it was voted for by viewers of the channel and visitors of the park, so not just based on some anonymous judges perception of things that can so often seem a bit political (especially if you don’t win).  This one is from the public, from the visitor, from the people who really count especially in financial terms as these are the ones paying to visit attractions.

Anyway, we won and as the blog title suggests this was what I consider to be the first big success of my social media efforts for the park as it was mainly through these channels that I pushed the awards and the voting links to Eden’s website.  I do not consider myself an expert in social media by any means, I would have started blogging years ago if I was, but do believe that there is incredible opportunity for anyone to use it as an addition to existing marketing and customer service practice.  Knowsley Safari Parks social media efforts are, if I am honest, mainly Facebook.  I have other accounts as well with Twitter, Myspace and a few others but struggle to get the same impact with them and as a result put a lot less effort in so at the moment Facebook is king.

When Eden TV launched it’s campaign to find Britain’s best wildlife attraction the park was thrilled just to take part, there were a lot of good zoos and other animal attractions involved.  The voting was all to be done online so straight away I knew this would be an ideal one to push on social channels “We want you to vote and here is the link to do it” how easy is that!  The link was posted prominently on the website as well as using social media but the advantage of Facebook is you can post multiple times and your fans get to know about it, on a website you post once and hope they find it.  Now I will admit that at times I was maybe a little enthusiastic and pushed too hard with the link on Facebook and this did cause the loss of some fans, I’ve learnt a lesson here, it was coming to the end of the campaign and as I didn’t know how well we were doing at the time every vote counted.  In future I will plan the posts better and stick to the schedule, too many updates becomes junk post and people switch off.

So the results were announced on 11th October and Knowsley Safari Park is Eden’s Wildlife Attraction of the Year for 2010 but it was the margin of victory that surprised me.  There were nine attractions up for the award West Midlands Safari Park, Bristol Zoo, Blair Drummond Safari, Marwell Wildlife Park, Blackpool Zoo, Paignton Zoo, Colchester Zoo,  Blue Planet Aquarium and of course Knowsley, all taken from the list of the top attractions based on visitor numbers so we should all be on a fairly level playing field.  An even split of votes would give every attraction just over 11% of the vote but you would expect a few maybe to take a bit more of the vote, Knowsley Safari Park won with 41% of the total vote.  It was an amazing result and as the main push to vote came from social media I have to put it down to this.  I have looked at the other entrants websites and their link from here was similar to that on Knowsley’s site, but investigating their social media showed that Knowsley Safari Park had a significant advantage.  Knowsley Facebook page had more fans and was more proactive than the others, I posted the original link on the page but I know of staff at the park who then posted to their pages, my friends posted on their pages and some of their friends and so on, it was only a small viral effect but it all helped.  There aren’t any analytics yet to show how many “shares” a post gets, this would be good and can’t be far away as Twitter have a “retweet” count and I am sure Facebook won’t want to play catch up on this for long.  Another positive side effect was that the fanbase grew with the votes, friends were looking at what they were being asked to vote for and joining the page as well as voting, great! We have an even bigger and stronger base to launch any future campaigns from.

Facebook and other social media will certainly be used again in the future for everything from offers, campaigns to news and plain old customer contact.  It’s a great tool and brings you that little bit closer to your customer, it’s an open forum they can say what they like and what they really feel and often do.  If you are reading this and are just starting out on your social media for business use then my advice is to read more, not just my blog but those of others, there is loads of stuff out there to read, not all is good and you may think this is in with them, but try things, try everything, see what works for you and don’t be shy in asking for advice, social media is social you are supposed to talk to people.

I hope you enjoyed my first post or at least found something of interest, all I have to do know is try and think of something to write for the next one.

Eden Wildlife Attraction of the Year Award

Adrian Wills, Channel Head of the Eden TV Channel, presents David Ross, General Manager at Knowsley Safari Park, the award for winning Eden's Top Wildlife Attraction 2010

Knowsley Safari Park Facebook Page

Knowsely Safari Park Website

Eden TV Sky 532, Sky HD 559, Virgin Media 208, click for website

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About safariuk

I am the Visitor Service Manager for UK tourist attraction Knowsley Safari Park. I have been in the post only for a few years and consider myself very fortunate to work in such a fantastic place. Not many people outside of Africa can take their lunch break while looking at elephants! This isn't the official blog for Knowsley Safari Park but my own views and opinions on things that may be happening at the park, in the leisure industry or anywhere else.
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