Bungee America Gets Social

A few weeks ago, I had the awesome opportunity to go to bungy jumping with Bungee America.

Based in Los Angeles, Bungee America is the oldest bungy company in the United States. Departing from Azusa, adventurers hike 5 miles into the Angeles National Forest to the “Bridge to Nowhere.”

In 1938, the road to the bridge was washed away during California’s 4th largest flood leaving behind a beautiful hiking trail. The Bridge to Nowhere sits on 50 acres of private property surrounded on all sides by the Sheep Mountain Wilderness area.

The whole experience was a total blast, and the hike was the most legitimate I’ve ever done, featuring rock climbing and creek crossing.

To make jumpers feel safe, Bungee America manufactures a Thundercord bungee cord. This is the only braided multiple cord bungee system in the world which can stretch more than three times its resting length, and each cord contains its own safety back-up.

bungee america

Utilizing a multiple cord bungee system equates to not just one back-up but multiple back-ups which provides multiple redundancy for the ultimate in safety.

In fact, the company has a 100% safety record. The staff was also extremely funny and accommodating, and knew how to make everyone feel welcome and laugh among the entire duration of the hike to the bridge.

The comapny has also been using social media to reach out to jumpers and future jumpers. Each week, they update their cover photo to include a recent jumper.

They always reiterate their philosophy which is “safety consists of redundancy in both equipment and procedures coupled with impeccable attention to detail.”

They share many tweets and Facebook posts of their fans’ first-hand experience, which creates a very positive sense of intimacy with the brand.

I highly recommend bungy jumping if you ever get the chance! Get in touch with Bungee America on Facebook and Twitter for your opportunity.

Discovery Cube Reaches Audience via Social Media

In addition to hotels and restaurants, there are many other venues making a splash in the social media world. Twitter and Facebook are a great way for “recreational” venues to educate future guests about upcoming exhibits, events and more.

One such venue is Orange County’s Discovery Science Center.

Thanks to Jeff Friend of Social Good Today for this outline of Discovery Science Center and its social media channels:

Discovery Science Center Cube
You have probably seen this huge 108-foot cube off of the 5 freeway at Main Street in Santa Ana, and many of you have probably been there, but you may not know that it’s actually a nonprofit organization. For those of you who have not yet heard of the Discover Science Center (DSC), it is a 59,000-square-foot learning facility (est. 1998) that is dedicated to educating young minds, assisting teachers and increasing public understanding of science, math and technology through interactive exhibits and programs. There are nearly half a million people per year who visit the Discovery Science Center!

Within DSC there are approximately 120 interactive exhibits that encourage visitors to search for answers, think and explore. The center is divided into several themed areas including Perception, Dynamic Earth, Quake Zone, Science of Hockey, Space Exploration, and DinoQuest.

Their big Summer attractions are the The Adventures of Mr. Potato Head (he will lead you on a number of fun and educational adventures, from trips to outer space to jungle safaris and archeological digs), and Water Works: Soak Up The Science (exploring how water gets physical by creating a perfect rainbow, capturing a raindrop and examining snowflakes – one of nature’s most complex structures).

Hockey Exhibit at Discovery  Science Center

The Science of Hockey Exhibit from early 2011

Discovery Science Center is open 10am–5pm Monday – Saturday and 11am–5pm on Sundays. With regular admission at only $12.95 for adults, and $9.95 for youths (ages 3-17), DSC would be a great place to spend a day with the family!

Get Social!

See what fun stuff they’re doing on their social sites:
Facebook (Join the 4,000+ people who “like” them!)
Twitter (Follow and learn fun facts about their exhibits!)
YouTube (Watch nearly 40 videos of fun stuff people do at the Center!)
Flickr (Check out 200+ photos of the different exhibits and events!)

Which exhibit are you most looking forward to at DSC this summer?

More and More Consumers, and Businesses, Going Mobile

A new study shows that, for the first time, consumers are spending more time on mobile apps than on the web, according a recent Mashable article. With that in mind, there’s many taking advantage of the opportunity to reach their mobile-inclined audience in new, innovative ways.
Destinations Travel MagazineDestinations Travel Magazine just released a mobile page allowing subscribers to access the latest issues from their smartphones. Beginning with the July 2011 issue, the magazine will be available for iPhone, iPad, Droid as well as a variety of other devices.

OC Fair iPhone AppWhat’s also really cool is that travel service providers, merchants and restaurants can go mobile with the magazine’s readers, too, by providing special offers, discounts and promotions right in the magazine, which has also incorporated new social networking features, including ‘share’ buttons for Facebook and Twitter.

The Orange County Fairgrounds also just released an app for this summer’s fair.

It allows users to view a complete listing of extreme sports events, concerts and any other activity, and buy tickets online. You can navigate and plan all aspects of your fair experience strictly through this app!

Fairs, Food Trucks, Block Parties and Social Media

The OC Fair & Event Center is a multi-functional venue that “provides educational, entertainment and recreational opportunities for the general public and preserves the heritage of California agriculture.” It’s home to the Orange County Marketplace, Pacific Amphitheatre, Centennial Farm, the OC Fair and other ongoing events hosted throughout the year. This past year, they debuted their first self-initiated New Year’s Eve Block Party, which was very successful, along with Food Truck Fare Thursdays, which attracts a large crowd on a weekly basis.

The 2010 OC Fair was recently awarded several top placements in the Western Fairs Association (WFA) annual Achievement Awards, which recognizes excellence in the fair industry and provides a forum for fairs to share successful ideas and programs. They received first-place rankings in fair logo and best new idea (misting stations) as well as second-place rankings in several categories, including social media campaign.

Robin Wachner, the fair’s Director of Communications, has run their social media since its inception. She was using Facebook personally and saw how much information was being shared, and how people came together. A PR veteran, she noticed the subtle changes in the industry and that social media was becoming the new primary way to communicate with both the media and the public.

The social media fanbase was grown entirely organically. Robin began to notice how, the more interesting content she posted, the more people came, and the more they interacted. It was a natural transition for people to begin using social media personally to locate information on places they like, so it became natural for the fairgrounds to take advantage of that opportunity to be present. It’s also a very cost-effective way to promote.

Food Truck Fare Thursdays, for example, draws 300 people to the fairgrounds each Thursday. Featuring a rotating variety of food trucks, this weekly event helps garner buzz about the fairgrounds as well as local food trucks, offering consumers a chance to sample different trucks. It is and always has been relayed entirely through social media.

They’ve kept their Twitter and Facebook pages enticing by doing a lot of different contests including trivia questions and word scrambles. When they have tickets they want to give away, they’re able to build up a lot of buzz and excitement online. At times when the fair is quieter, they offered exclusive online coupons for guests to print out.

Robin discussed the differences in the Twitter and Facebook crowds:  Twitter is most effective for those interested in more immediate gratification (so, ticket giveaways for approaching shows are best received on Twitter), whereas more thought-out initiatives are more suitable for Facebook.

They’ve also used social media as a way to solicit feedback on many things. They asked their consumers directly what kinds of concerts they’d like to see in the future. Another fascinating find was that they brought in focus groups to get opinions on the NYE Block Party in addition to asking their Facebook fans the same questions. The results of both groups was virtually the same, posing a question about whether or not focus groups (which cost money) will eventually become obsolete when the same kinds of consumer response is available for free through Twitter and Facebook.

Last year was also the first year they used Yelp and found it an effective tool in addressing customers and their concerns. This year, they hope to beef up their Yelp and Foursquare promotions, including incentives for mayors as well as possibly, an OC Fair badge.

The theme for this summer’s 2011 OC Fair is “Let’s Eat” as a result of surveys indicated people are most crazy about food, followed by music. There’s going to be several new, authentic features at the fair this year including the presence of food trucks and possibly, a food-truck throwdown, pinning all the regular fried, fair-food favorites up against food truck cuisine.

Robin’s advice for any similar venues looking to get started with social media include initially building up your fanbase by following other fairs, amusement parks and any other similar venues and those that are talking about them, along with relevant pages pertaining to your city.

The Food Truck Phenomenon

In the past year, the mobile food industry has soared to amazing heights. Almost every type of food imaginable can now be found in truck form. The food truck culture has been especially potent in Southern California.

Orange County launched its first-ever Foodie Fest at the Honda Center back in August. It hosted over 50 trucks and drew a crowd of 8,500.  The OC Fairgrounds also featured 20+ trucks at their recent New Year’s Eve Blockparty, further solidifying the draw of such a niche. Food truck events are a great way for these large recreation venues to garner some additional PR as well.

OC Foodie Fest

One reason food trucks have become so successful is that they are moderately easy to manage in comparison to physical dining venues. They don’t require the same extent of staffing nor do their operators have to worry about paying rent. Their mobility allows them to reach customers of numerous destinations and subsequently word-of-mouth marketing is highly applicable.

The surge in food truck presence is no-doubt enhanced by the live accessibility to their whereabouts via Twitter and Facebook. The foodie crowd relies on these portals in knowing where their favorite trucks are going to be in the coming days and weeks. You’ll rarely see a truck without their Twitter and Facebook information plastered along the side.

Technology, in general, also plays a large part in food truck success. I recently paid via credit card at a foodtruck through an app on their iPhone. Mobile Food News also recently posted an article about a new smart-phone app called “Mobile Meteor,” an “application that works with a food truck’s existing Twitter account: By sending a tweet with ‘#open’ plus the truck’s address, a map automatically appears on the business’s mobile web site with a link to their location on Google maps.”

Food trucks use social media to keep consumers up-to-date on their whereabouts

Going to a foodtruck event, whether a regularly-held smaller scale one, or large one, has a much lighter feel than going to a sit-down restaurant. It’s easy to mingle with lots of people in open areas of “fun” destinations: shopping centers, bowling alleys, etc. Plus, you can try out lots of different kinds of food, and it’s usually pretty reasonably priced. Trucks can also be spotted in front of bars at night, which is brilliant mutual marketing as many bars only serve drinks, and now thirsty patrons (with tastebuds likely enhanced from consumption of aforementioned beverages) will have food to munch on, which will probably keep them around the area longer, likely to result in an increase in bar sales, too.

Where do you think the foodtruck phenomenon will go from here?