A Renaissance Faire is an outdoor weekend gathering which emulates a historic period for the amusement of its guests. If you’ve never been to a Faire, then you are missing out. They are lot of fun! They generally include an abundance of costumed entertainers, musical and theatrical acts, art and handicrafts for sale and festival food. I have been attending and working at Renaissance Faires for years. I am now the Social Media Guru for The New York Renaissance Faire (NYRF). Being the Renaissance Faire’s voice of brand is an amazing experience for me and I am pretty sure that I have more fun than our followers do! All that being said, how do you turn Huzzah, God Save the Queen and giant Turkey legs into a Social Media Army of just about 10,000? Take a look and find out in six easy steps…
01) Suspension Of Disbelief
The number one thing to remember when being “social” about Ren Faires is there must be suspension of disbelief. Obviously I don’t whip out my smartphone to post updates on Facebook while I am in costume, I go backstage to do it, but even so, it is about delicately combining reality with fantasy, the past with the present.
02) Invent Medieval #Hashtags
If I Tweeted #GSTQ or #GSTS right now, everyone in our community would know exactly what I mean…God Save The Queen & God Save The Sheriff of course! They were invented by some of our creative types and are like magic! When I write #GSTQ, within minutes I get dozens of #GSTQ’s back. The hashtags take a little while to catch on, but I assure you more are in the works. Got any suggestions?
03) Pictures & Videos
Every year I take photos of the characters in their costumes on dress rehearsal weekend and I post them a few days before we open the show. This allows our fans to get a sneak peek at who are characters are, what they look like, etc. We also post pictures of different public relations events we do. Stuff that would normally never make it to the website. We love to offer special little extras to our fans who follow us in the cyber world. It is the least we can do for them. Our faire has A LOT of wonderfully loyal fans who treat the actors as if they were Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. They bring us food and drink and make us lovely gifts like teddy bears outfitted in our costumes. When they see pictures and video of us, they go crazy. You would think we were Hollywood Royalty!
This year we added more video to the mix and posted Robin Hood’s Merry Men singing a special song that was “exclusive” to our Social Media friends. We also had Queen Elizabeth I welcoming everyone to the Shire of Sterling and we even had The Sheriff of Nottingham put a poor peasant in the stocks! If only there really were photos and video in 1579…oh the things that could have been created using a Flip.
04) Speak The Language Huzzah!!!
Once our performance company is cast, I have the actors give me character quotes that I post. This allows everyone’s computer to become it’s own virtual Renaissance Faire. Some of our actors even create pages for their characters and play along in their alternate identities. Our community loves to join in…here is one of my favorite quotes from this season by the Queen’s Musician Christopher Hatton…
“Remember ladies, I’m a musician. I can use both hands, and my mouth, at the same time, in a coordinated fashion, whilst another body part keeps tempo. I am of course referring to my foot.”
05) Countdown To Excitement
Renaissance Faires are seasonal, they only happen a few weeks every year so it is important to keep the excitement going even when it isn’t happening. I do this by posting fairly regularly during the off-season. On average maybe once a week. One thing everyone really likes is when we count down the days until the gates open. Whether it is 200 days or 20 hours, it gets people excited about our gates opening for business and keeps the spirit alive.
06) It Takes A Shire
When the faire gates open, it isn’t just the patrons or the performers or the vendors alone that make our little fantasy world go round. It is EVERYONE. It really takes a village to make our “shire”. That is why it is so important that everyone is included in our social media efforts. The most important thing to remember is, if you are having a good time being social, so will all of you followers.
See You At The Faire!
Three years ago when I first suggested the faire jump on the “social” bandwagon, management was very supportive, but understandably cautious.
“Social Media was still a fairly new concept in the world of Renaissance Faires when Gia first introduced it to us way back in 2008. The enthusiasm and confidence that Gia presented to us about the benefits of utilizing social media for the Faire was what sold us on the idea. She has not only proven to be right, but we cannot imagine promoting our event without it today. It is like having endless bulletin board in outer space to share with others our passion for what everyone works so hard doing to create our Faire! Thank you Gia!”, Wanda Carr, NYRF Assistant General Manager & Promotions Director.
The New York Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, New York runs summer weekends and Labor Day from until September 25th. But if you can’t make it in person, the next best thing is to join us in cyberspace.