As an undeniable foodie, it was impossible for me to avoid the topic of the Scooper Bowl. June 3 – 5 marked the 32nd year of this annual event, which is run by the Jimmy Fund and presented by Walgreens. Endless ice cream sampling was available to visitors for the reasonable price of 10 dollars and 20 dollars for a three day pass. Since its inception, the event has raised over four million dollars for the Jimmy Fund.
Channeling my rare lazy instincts, I googled the Scooper Bowl to find out as much as I could before attending the event. Word of mouth had led me to the happening over the last couple of years, but I was curious as to why I hadn’t heard of it through other social media outlets. I receive constant lifestyle, foodie and Boston news through twitter, so why hadn’t the Scooper Bowl, the foodie kick-off to summer, come up?
Upon further research I discovered that there was no Scooper Bowl 2014 twitter handle. The Jimmy Fund account had been steadily promoting it, but to me that did not seem like enough. As a Public Relations student, I am used to twitter running events and being overly abused. How does this event receive 75,000 attendees yearly without its own twitter account?
When I arrived on opening day, I realized why twitter was not prominent and why it didn’t need to be. Everything for the Scooper Bowl was visual. Visitors were drawn to it from pictures that were shared with one another, not necessarily from wordy tweets. Seeing all attendees taking photos while slurping down ice cream prompted me to check Instagram. Sure enough there were over 2000 posts for #scooperbowl from the first five hours – not too shabby. The event did not have its own Instagram account, but people were sharing their own pictures. I did not realize it until later that #scooperbowl was being used constantly on twitter, as well.
Using a hash tag for an event is what Malcolm Gladwell would call the tipping point – when people start to do their own PR through word of mouth, or in this case through sharing pictures and hash tags. It is free PR, incredibly useful and can be used on any social media platform. Starting a hash tag trend seems to be more influential than starting individual social media accounts for every event.
Thus I have learned that not every event has the same social media strategy, just like not every ice cream uses the same recipe. The Scooper Bowl has been around so long that perhaps word of mouth, people sharing the info themselves, is the best PR in their situation. A complete social media strategy is not the most effective PR for the Scooper Bowl and maybe the importance of a hash tag needs to be reconsidered.