Serving the Community a Taste of the World in Fenton Village

Sometimes, there’s just no money to execute a good idea. This is often the case with community events. The Silver Spring Citizen’s Advisory Board started the Taste the World in Fenton Village event in 2011 and it went over pretty well. This year, they wanted to do a little more but lacked the funds, that’s where I and a few others came in. With no budget to dedicate to the social media and web end of things, this was a total labor of community love.
Taste the World in Fenton Village Home Page

Taste the World in Fenton Village Home Page

The Client

 The Silver Spring Citizen’s Advisory Board.

The Situation

In 2011, the CAB kicked off an event called Taste the World in Fenton Village. It was basically a restaurant crawl across a few blocks of Silver Spring adjacent to the “official” Downtown area. Fenton Village is populated by a diverse mix of mom & pop shops and eateries with an equally wide variety of food types to be found. That first year, they had a few hundred people come through and sampled meals from 15 different restaurants.

In 2012, they wanted to get the word out even more. I checked and saw there wasn’t a dedicated website for the event and the Facebook pages related to CAB and the previous year’s event were, at best, dead and dusty. So I showed up at the next meeting of the committee that was planning the event, asked some questions, then suggested they put together a website and fire up the social media machine. That’s when it came out that the only budget for the event had already been allocated and anything done would have to be pro bono. Not a problem for me or for the other two guys who had shown up to offer help, too. Sometimes, you just have to do things for the community because it’s the right thing to do, not because you’re going to make a buck.

The Criteria

There really weren’t any. The design direction had already been set by the pint materials that had already been produced, but other than that, there was no set plan in place for a web presence or a solid social media push. It was decided that we’d clean up the Facebook page for Fenton Village and to create a completely new website to feature the list of restaurants and some other information about the event.

The Solution

With no budget, only about a month of time, and few high-quality materials available from the previous year’s event, a lot had to be cobbled together quickly.

Among the three of us, the social media team cleaned up the Facebook page, adding a new cover photo and icon. We created an event page and started sharing that around to spread the word about the event and bring some traffic and a few more likes to the page. Mostly, we focused on re-posting pictures that were around from the previous year and encouraging people to share their experiences.

On the web-front, I took the lead and set up hosting for a domain name the CAB obtained then set about building out a Drupal 6 site (the version I knew I could work quickest with at the time) with a custom Google map at its core. Taking the color scheme and general style–travel related, it being a “Taste the World” event that had a physical “passport” that people took around to get stamped by the various venues in order to enter a raffle–I created a theme based on Zen. Content types for news stories, participating restaurants, and sponsors were created. The site was linked to the Facebook page and a MailChimp account to collect email addresses from interested people.

The design and build out took a couple of weeks, mostly due to having to coordinate with the designer who’d done the other materials and then convert and expand on those design ideas to suit a full website. The committee and the rest of the board was a big help, pulling together 24 participating restaurants this time, all of which got featured on the website’s custom map page.

It was far from the most complex website or the most intricately planned social media campaign (the Twitter component was completely ad hoc), but in a time crunch and with no budget (I donated some money toward a week’s worth of Facebook ads leading up to the event, just to give things an extra little boost), it all came together pretty solidly.

Client Reaction

When all was said and done, the site was launched and linked to from a couple of press releases and articles, was loved by the board and the public who came through it, and helped get the word out a little bit more than the previous year. The same was true of the Facebook page, where we effectively doubled the number of likes and amount of interaction on the page.

The real-world event was a smashing success, too. All of the restaurants did well, hundreds of people enjoyed food and the music being played in the center of the event, and nearly as many participated in the raffle. All in all, it was considered a great success by the CAB. So much so that they issued everyone in the committee certificates of appreciation a month or so later at the next regular meeting.

So this just happened...

Looking Ahead

For the 2013 event, we’re all hoping to get more than a month head start on the electronic side of things. We’re already talking about integrating a 4Square or similar event that would allow the participating restaurants to really see the long-term impact of the event by tracking the check-ins of participants. Part of that includes some education for the participants in just how important social media–especially location-based mobile interaction–can be for their business. Just as importantly, we’re going to shoot to get the community even more involved earlier on so word will spread even better and more stories of previous years will be shared.

About KierDuros

Hi, I'm Kier. I've been on the web since there's been a web to be on. In that time I've used it to tell stories--both my own and other people's--and help numerous organizations and businesses find their niche while making the best use of available technology.