Being Social: #OnRoundhay and #FriendsFest

In 2016, our brains are hardwired to relate everything to our Facebook profile. We think constantly about our Twitter feeds. Even those of us not working in a social media agency will schedule content to go out online, so that we can appear constantly connected. A hiatus from social media might cause us to miss out on information, and who wants to do that? How would we know about #Bradxit, or Mary Berry’s latest antics on #GBBO? How would we keep our personal brand cohesive?

This past weekend I went to two great experiences in Leeds. On Saturday, OnRoundhay came to Roundhay Park — the first large-scale event to be held there for over ten years. Madonna, the Rolling Stones, and Michael Jackson are just a handful of the previous artists who have performed in Europe’s largest urban green space.

So who played this weekend? We had the funky Haggis Horns, the modern grunge of Wolf Alice, the energised Scottish rock of Primal Scream, and the dance-laden set of Hacienda rockers, James. Harvey Goldsmith had only ten weeks to promote this inaugural day festival, and he harnessed the power of social media to do so. Throughout the buildup and on the day, scrolling through Twitter and the hashtag of #OnRoundhay you could instantly see a sea of posts by parents, young revellers, and foodies alike enjoying the cultural spectacle. It was amazing!

On Sunday, we were off to FriendsFest, a celebration of the famous American TV show held in the grounds of Harewood House. What the organisers of this had tapped into, cleverly, was the overarching desire for people to be able to have their photo taken, to then pop on to social media. Within the fences, there were deckchairs parked in front of a screen playing Friends clips, there were giant, glittering letters spelling out “Oh. My. God” that fans could sprawl out in front of posing for a snap, there were numerous props of wedding dresses and the like, along with the instantly recognisable well-loved sets of Monica’s apartment and Central Perk. I let out a little shriek upon being offered the opportunity to get a picture in front of Monica’s purple door (you know the one!) which I immediately uploaded in excitement to my social channels.

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It never felt contrived, though. It felt like someone was saying, you know what, I know what you want out of this experience – here, let us help you. Staff were positioned around the site, ready to press ‘shoot’ upon being passed phones. It was great to leave and be able to scroll through the digital mementos of the fun you’d had with your friends, with yourself included.

Of course our addiction to social media in its negative incarnations is something we have to consider, too. This week model of the moment, Bella Hadid, fell down during New York Fashion Week to a tide of raised iPhones, as the virality of the moment crushed onlookers’ urges to actually help the poor girl. At OnRoundhay, at times I looked at the music-lovers recording the performances on their phones and couldn’t help but wonder if they were actually even aware of what they were listening to. Would they ever look back at these videos, or had they sapped their experience dry simply for ‘Likes’?

It is something to consider, and to be aware of then that in our social lives sometimes social media can hinder us, robbing us of the ability to enjoy and be present in the moment. But it’s also a proven powerful tool for good and for sharing, one that can thoroughly enhance promotion. At Brilliant, we are witness everyday to the magic social media can work on our clients’ businesses and life-bloods because of this.