IABC Edmonton is all about effective communication, and as such, we want to hear from you! Every month, we will be featuring guest blogs from local professionals who want to share their experiences on the wonderful world that is professional communications.
We’re pleased to showcase our first guest blogger, Reade Beaudoin, as he shares tips on how to increase social media engagement, specifically through a real-life example of a “sheep strategy” employed by the City of Fort Saskatchewan.
Entertaining Your Audience
For your social media efforts to be effective, your content must be designed to inform, entertain, connect, or a combination of all three. For municipal government, the most difficult of the three involves entertaining your audience with content appropriate for administration to distribute. Easier said than done.
Sheep in the Fort: A Brief History
For the past 20 years, the City of Fort Saskatchewan has employed a herd of sheep during the summer months. What started as a green initiative with 450 wooly lawn mowers has turned into a tourist attraction of 50 head of sheep. Over the past two decades, the sheep have endeared themselves to our residents and become part of our community.
And what do you do when a valued member of your community leaves? Throw a parade, of course—which the City has been doing every year for the past 20 years. The family event, known as the Sheep Leaving Parade, is a great way to say goodbye to the City's beloved flock and to celebrate the summer that was.
Old Sheep, New Perspective
Being new to the organization, I saw the sheep as a unique tool to garner media attention for the City. The hard part was coming up with an idea that hadn’t been used before. The inspiration finally came during Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.
#SheepWeek was a runaway success. I compiled sheep facts, sheep jokes, and sheep videos. The content was scheduled through Hootsuite and distributed several times a day, for seven days leading up to the Sheep Leaving Parade.
During #SheepWeek, we had a 42% increase in total engagement across our social media channels compared to the average week. Event staff estimated an attendance of 600-800 people for the Sheep Leaving Parade. An average year sees 200 attendees.
CTV Edmonton’s Graham Neil became the City of Fort Saskatchewan’s first celebrity guest shepherd.
This year’s Sheep Leaving Parade received mentions in multiple blogs including the Edmonton Sun, CBC, City TV, CTV, and the Globe and Mail—all of which was accomplished with a budget of $0.
Best of all, local industry has shown interest to sponsor next year’s #SheepWeek. Who would have thought that a herd of sheep would become such a big deal?
Graham Neil as guest shepherd