At the intersection of social media and cruising, I found Eric Schechter, Carnival’s recently hired Social Media Manager, already making waves. Carnival kicked off 2011 with a huge New Year’s Eve Times Square sponsorship/promotion and Eric experienced it all on site in New York City. I believe all promotions are made better when creatively integrated with social media and with this CruiseSource interview of Eric we get an inside glimpse of how Carnival did it.
Carnival Cruise Lines Kick’s off 2011 in Times Square
On New Year’s Eve, Carnival Cruise Lines brought its spirited brand of fun to Times Square as the official Confetti Sponsor for the December 31 festivities in New York.
To kick off the promotion, Carnival encouraged its online community to submit their wishes and dreams for 2011 via the Times Square website. In addition, Carnival sponsored the Wishing Wall in the Times Square Visitor’s Center where visitors could write down their wishes for the coming year and post them on the wall. Each wish was then added to the confetti that rained down on more than a million Times Square revelers at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Carnival’s Senior Cruise Director John Heald who also pens cruising’s most popular blog was also in Times Square to report back to Carnival fans via his blog and the line’s Facebook page and help lead the festivities.
#1 – Leading up to New Years Eve, which social media channels did Carnival use to promote the event?
Due to the wide appeal and popularity of the customary New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square, we decided to take a much broader approach and incorporate all of our main social platforms to promote the event. These included: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, John Heald’s blog, and our own social community, Funville. While we normally tailor the promotion of our campaigns/events around certain channels (based on a variety of factors), we felt that the community members on each of our social platforms would enjoy and find value in this event, so we decided to utilize the power of each, to create one fluid and consistent strategy/campaign around it.
#2 – How many people’s dreams/wishes were dropped on New Year’s Eve?
Over 25,000 wishes were placed on the Carnival Wishing Wall in Times Square, and nearly 18,000 wishes were submitted online (in over 20 languages and from more than 100 countries). So in total, as the clock struck midnight, over 40,000 dreams/wishes were dropped! 🙂
#3 – During the New Years Eve Celebration was there much interaction on Facebook or Twitter with fans and followers? Were you posting live pics or video online?
Absolutely. One of our main goals during this event was to make it as interactive as possible and to do our very best in bringing the overall experience to our fans and followers all over the world, in a way that would make them feel like they were just as much a part of the celebration as those who were there. To accomplish that, we not only posted live updates on Twitter and Facebook throughout the day, but we decided to take it a step further and incorporate tons of pictures and video updates every chance we got as well. (To give you an idea, we posted over 55 Facebook updates, 20 tweets, and 25 videos throughout the entire event.) We also didn’t wait until the end of each day to post our content; almost everything was up and live within minutes of them being taken, so our online communities could feel like they were right there with us.
It’s also important to note that we didn’t just flood our streams with one way messages and content. We did what we normally do within our social media channels: proactively answered questions that came in through our Twitter and Facebook, and consistently engaged with our fans and followers, creating an open dialogue by responding to their real-time feedback and comments about the events that were taking place. It’s really easy to get caught up in just “pushing” the content out to your community, especially during an exciting event like this, but in order to truly make it an interactive experience and ensure that our fans and followers felt like they were all a big part of it, we knew we had to go beyond that and “pull” as well.
To give you an idea of just how much interaction there was, our posts on Facebook garnered over 2,000 comments and 5,000 likes in just 3 days. Along with that our video updates also received over 25,000 plays in less than a week and our YouTube subscriber count grew by nearly 25%.
#4 – Do you feel that Social Media was fully integrated into this promotion? Please elaborate:
Yes, and that was our objective from the start. It wasn’t an option for us to just make an announcement and then wait for people to engage with us or submit a wish online. Instead, we used our social platforms to not just get the message out there but to proactively interact with our community every step of the way.
As we all know, just because you build it, doesn’t mean people are going to come, and just because they come doesn’t mean they’re going to interact with your brand or content. Understanding that, we utilized all of our social platforms to create a fun, memorable, and interactive experience out of the whole event for our entire online community to be a part of, no matter where they were in the world or which platform they preferred to use. We provided live updates, pics, and videos on Twitter and Facebook (like I mentioned earlier), not to mention interactive polls, and even hosted the entire live stream of the NYE celebration on both our Facebook page and John Heald’s blog.
#5 – What was your most memorable moment from the NYE Celebration?
While the entire experience is something I will undoubtedly remember for the rest of my life, I’d have to say one of the most memorable moments was right when the clock struck 12:00, watching as the entire sky above Times Square was consumed with Carnival confetti containing people’s hopes, dreams, and wishes for 2011. It was truly breathtaking.
From this side of the internet, I thought Carnival did an excellent job integrating social media throughout this promotion. Congratulations to the whole Carnival Cruise Line team for a big success and thank you Eric for taking the time participate in this interview!
Over the last few years, CruiseSource has been a leading advocate of the use of social media by the cruise industry. Once quoted in the Miami Herald as saying “Cruising and Social Media are like peanut butter and chocolate two tastes that taste great together”. Interested in keeping up with the Cruise Industry’s use of Social media? Subscribe to the CruiseSource Cruise Industry Social Media Articles.
Click on any of the photos in the post to make them larger and here is John Heald’s Youtube Video at the conclusion of the Times Square experience: