First Facebook revolutionized the way we connected with the world, then came Twitter which through it into overdrive. Theme Parks have been mostly reluctant to use Social Media sites to their advantage, and few who have done it have done it right. Enter Busch Gardens and Sea World.
Last year Sea World’s Signature attraction, Shamu, started tweeting about contests and information. How do you gain the most attention? Give away free stuff. Shamu started out by giving away t-shirts and iPods. Then Busch Gardens Tampa started with giving away free information, information that is usually regarded as Top Secret, about it’s annual Haunt event Howl O Scream with the HOSInsider. That quickly morphed into free ticket give aways and morphed into a viral marketing campaign which many say helped in making the event the largest success since the events inception.
Other parks saw the results and quickly followed suit, with parks like Disney doing daily blogs and updates. Other parks as well saw Twitter as a way to get to it’s fans and audience while closed, posting pics of the park as they were covered in snow, or new pictures of construction. Other parks, such as Universal, had accounts on both Facebook and Twitter started by fans that reached huge numbers, so much so that they had to start “Official” park pages, after missing out on the bandwagon the first go round.
Still, by no stretch has any other park been able to match the fervor started by Sea World and Busch Gardens. After the untimely death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, Shamu has been uncharacteristically quiet, perhaps out of respect. That hasn’t stopped the other parks from doing things such as starting new blogs with staff members, or announcing dates for upcoming events or even launching more contests. In fact, Busch Gardens Williamsburg has launched an all new contest when they hit the magic number of 2,500 followers. They will be giving away one of it’s premium Behind The Scenes Coaster Tours to one of the new followers.
One has to wonder why more parks have not adopted this free advertising tool. In fact, some fansites and enthusiast sites have been wondering if this is not a way to oust their brand of “journalism” altogether. After all, when you have an official from the park tweeting inside information, why do you need nerds poking their noses around corners taking pictures? Perhaps they shouldn’t fear too soon. Again, most parks have not adopted the same kind of tactics that the Busch and Sea World parks have, and even if they do, it’s still up to those types of folks to generate the frenzy that most park nerds tend to generate.
So, let’s hope that Busch Gardens VA gets 2500 followers real soon. I really want to go on that coaster tour.
Busch and Sea World Parks on Twitter:
@shamu Shamu’s official Twitter
@Seaworld_Parks Sea World Parks, covering general news and updates for all parks
@MyBuschGardens Covering all Busch Gardens News and Updates
@HOSInsider Sneak peaks into BGT’s Howl O Scream event
@BuschGardens_VA Official BGW news and info-HELP THEM REACH 2500 followers!