Blogger Outreach (also widely known as blogger meet) is a key element of social media strategy for brands (especially for those in the B2C segment). As part of this exercise, influential bloggers are invited for an event where they are given an exclusive treatment of the product / service. These influential bloggers in return create a lot of buzz about the product/service on social channels in all three stages – pre,during and post the event. This results into a strong positive (at times if things go wrong then negative!) ORM for the brand in a very short time. This strategy helps brands to reach wide number of end customers through these influencers in the society.
I was enthralled to receive this mail from Kingdom of Dreams (KOD), India’s first live entertainment, theatre and leisure destination. KoD invited me for for one such event – Culture Gully Food Fest. The event was promoted by the hastag – #CGFoodFest. I had never in past visited this place and the event was well-planned on a weekend (Saturday). How could I resist it! I confirmed my presence immediately.
As clock ticked second by second, bloggers reached the venue one by one and were welcomed at the entrance by the Iffort team who are social media consultants of KOD. Soon after the registrations, we entered the venue in a traditional setting, as saree clad women welcomed us with a ‘tilak’ on forehead. This gesture was so heart-warming which straightaway sets the expectation of the visitor about the cultural retreat that one would encounter ahead.
As soon as all invited bloggers reached the venue, we were escorted to a section which had Bollywood theme. The ambience was simply exciting. Soon Shweta Acharya, Executive Brand Officer of (KOD) joined us and detailed about the background of the mind-blowing destination and walked us through the unique attractions that KOD offers. The stage was set and then followed the madness of #CGFoodFest, where bloggers were involved in an array of games related to food which is the main attraction of Culture Gully.
The introduction pattern was simply awesome and challenging for those who sat in the last few rows. One had to share his/her name and the dish he/she liked the most. The second person had to repeat the former’s name, his/her favorite dish and then introduce self. This sequence continued until it was the turn of 10th blogger, the guy who had to speak out names of all 9 previous bloggers and their respective favourite dishes. The start itself was real fun unlike regular introduction rounds.
It was time for some morel fun! There were three games planned for the afternoon and the bloggers were grouped into team of two members.
Game 1: Teams had to guess the food item and the state to which it belonged from the given clues. I must appreciate the team that prepared those clues. They were real brain teasers!
Game 2: A set of four options about food dishes was presented and teams had to choose the odd one out. These were tougher than the previous game. Twice it happened that the bloggers interpreted the options as spicy food items & the odd one to be sweet. However, the odd one was the one prepared from a different ingredient.
These two games indeed helped bloggers to brush up with names of all famous food items consumed in this culturally diverse country. The moment I thought if all games would be couch based ones, there came a surprise. All bloggers were divided into five groups and it was time for the main attraction of the day –
Game 3 (Menu Maker): In this game each team was given a task to build a menu. This menu had list of ten states / famous cities that were featured at Culture Gully. Each team had to visit any of these states’/cities’ pavilion and build a menu of food items within the allotted total budget of Rs. 1,000 and time limit of 20 minutes. Also, every tweet about the food item that teams included in the menu fetched them extra points. This game solved the dual purpose of ensuring bloggers to visit almost all states’ pavilion present in the Culture Gully and get to know the food items served there (and also their prices!!). At the same time every tweet that was made about the food item created enormous buzz on the Twitter.
This round was full of fun as it was so difficult for we bloggers to choose a food item from one of the state/city pavilion. The range of food offered by each state/city was simply awesome. Some of the dishes that drew my attention were sabudana wada, bhai pav, at Mumbai pavilion; thandai at Lucknow; dal, batti & churma at Rajasthan; Sondesh (sweet) & grilled fish at West Bengal; Malabar prawn dosa at Chennai and so on. Well, I could go on and on about the extensive variety of dishes that were served there. The sky like arrangement within the complex gave a unique feel. As we bloggers were busy building our menus, we also enjoyed some folk dances performed by performers of different states.
At the end of stipulated 20 minutes all teams gathered at a reserved table near Goa state’s pavilion. It was a great fun activity to explore the Culture Gully and participate in this round.
After all these fun-filled game activity, now was the time for a sumptuous lunch. We bloggers were given a smart card and we could choose any food item from any state’s pavilion for our lunch. So, there began yet another round of visit to some of the states’ pavilions. The variety of food available at each state was amazing and it was a tough choice to select an item. I ordered for a Malabar Prawn Dosa (Chennai pavilion), Badam thandai (Lucknow pavilion) and sabudaana vada (Mumbai pavilion). It was a networking time for all bloggers during lunch while the Iffort team was busy compiling results.
As we finished lunch, all eyes were on the organizing team who were about to announce the winners of #CGFoodFest contest and a big surprise awaited me. The winners of the afternoon were me and my team mate Arvind Passey. Shweta presented us with momento and there began photosession.
It was indeed fun afternoon for all bloggers. The takeaways for me as a Social Media Strategist were following:
a) Organize blogger meets with smaller set of bloggers as it makes blogger feel exclusive and it is possible for the brand to give adequate attention to the invited bloggers, instead of them getting lost in the crowd of 100 odd bloggers.
b) Make genuine use of existing infrastructure, if possible brand’s destination. It could be your showroom, manufacturing facility, branch office etc. The connect with the brand helps with the first hand touch rather than being organized in a pub.
c) The activities planned in the meet should have strong brand relevance. It would have made no sense had KOD organized a antakshari game for bloggers! All the games were around the value proposition of food!
d) Do not reveal the entire sequence of events at one go! This keeps the momentum going and brings a pleasant surprise to bloggers at every instance of the stay unlike a premeditated sequel of events.
Hardly did we realize that we all had spent close to 4 hours at this amazing destination where time flies like anything and yet your heart isn’t willing to stop but to gulp down a few more delicacies. Well, Culture Gully could be an ideal destination for foodie people who enjoy to try out variety of food. It was a memorable experience and I would definitely like to revisit this place and try out few more dishes that I couldn’t try on that day!!!
While writing this blogpost, I did a small research around the hashtag and found myself to be the most prolific users of this hashtag! Blush, blush!