Wallace Centers is a Des Moines-based nonprofit whose mission is to build awareness of local food, sustainable agriculture, and civility. They offer farm to table dining experience, cooking classes and gardening workshops and support the Food Bank of Iowa and DMARC with their produce.
Amidst covid uncertainty of 2020, Wallace Centers launched a brand-new offering called Pizza on the Prairie, an experience on a beautiful prairie an hour outside of Des Moines. Their intention was to get the word out using social media content creators and draw people to their rural location.
They wanted to partner with the hummingbirds to share this new experience and were interested in attracting a younger audience. Before this event launched, their primary event attendees were in the Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers. Previous to their hummingbird engagement, they struggled to connect with the Millennials and Gen Z audience.
Our first priority as the leaders of the Hummingbirds is to ensure strong, mutually beneficial partnerships between birds and local businesses. We were confident our birds and their sphere of influence would love this experience.
Over the summer, 30 Des Moines hummingbirds visited Wallace Center, sharing the magic of Pizza on the Prairie through social media and word of mouth. The results were remarkable. Wallace Center boasted a waiting list and full reservations for the last few months of their event and are excited to announce they will be continuing Pizza on the Prairie next year.
This experience is not a fluke. Real people, engaging in a wonderful experience and sharing it with their network — this is the way we’ve always done business. The Hummingbirds is simply a systemized approach to a proven, but previously fluid strategy.
What created this successful monthly membership experience and what can you learn from Pizza on the Prairie?
1. The same experience was shared by different people with overlapping friends and followers.
Because the hummingbirds are active community members, they tend to have a lot of overlap in friends and followers on social media. That means our hummingbirds’ social media community was seeing the same experience on repeat, but with fresh perspectives and different images. And because our birds post on Facebook and Instagram, people got to see it on multiple platforms on a consistent basis.
Marketing experts state individuals need to see a brand marketed 7 times before they consider buying, but this number can decrease when someone they know, like, and trust is sharing the brand. There’s no comparison when it comes to seeing a coworker posting about her pizza experience versus seeing a billboard, a TV ad or any other form of mass marketing.
2. Wallace Center offered an incredible opportunity people wanted to experience.
With Coronavirus in full swing in the summer and limited activities indoors, audiences were hungry for novel experiences. When the birds attended, they got a great meal, beautiful views, live music, and quality time with people they love.
The perk offered by Wallace Centers was two free pizzas and two free soft beverages. The hummingbird could bring up to five guests, which meant that birds who brought more than one person oftentimes purchased more pizza and other types of beverages, desserts, and items in the store.
Not to mention those guests were tagged in photos (or took their own and posted), driving the impact far beyond the 30 birds initially engaged.
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3. Very Instagrammable
Is your brand or experience Instagrammable? Are people going to get excited to get a photo of themselves taken or go all out with selfies? This event happened during sunset, on a prairie, surrounded by art. The photos the hummingbirds took were amazing and incredible visual content does better when it comes to the algorithm and the response of friends and followers.
Being Instagrammable takes intention. From creating installations to considering the time of day the hummingbird is going to experience your brand (Is the sun out? Is it completely dark?), do they have the opportunity to get a really great photo on their phone?
Also, let’s not forget the power of seeing someone else taking photos. Have you ever seen someone pull out their phone to take a photo and then said to your family or group of friends… “Hey guys! We should take a photo!” Hummingbirds inspire others to take photos when they are actively taking photos during their experience.
4. Actual conversion to new visitors
We don’t track direct conversions since our hummingbirds are everyday people, not influencers. They aren’t trained to swap out their “link in bio” for your trackable shopping link, nor do they get custom promo codes to share with their followers. While this can be an effective strategy, it has an inherent feeling of “sales.” The hummingbirds are not selling, they are experiencing and sharing. This is what makes them powerful.
The point of our strategy is to partner with local humans who value their community and love sharing their life experiences. In return, your brand quickly becomes a trusted business, because people are making decisions based on what their neighbors, coworkers, and kids’ parents are recommending.
We love what Ann from Wallace Centers said…
“It’s kind of like a wildfire. Somebody who shares “this is a great experience,” it sparks someone else to try it and they spark somebody else… you don’t know where the influence ends.”
While we don’t track direct conversations, we do ask questions. We confirmed through several hummingbirds, as well as comments of FOMO and “I have to go” comments on social media posts that friends and followers of hummingbirds made reservations based on their content.
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5. Content beyond social media
Our hummingbirds are real people with jobs, hobbies, and interests that allow for way more impact than a social media post. Let’s say our hummingbird Don posts about his experience at Pizza on the Prairie.
Depending on who sees it, people tend to follow up on social media posts as a conversation starter. So at the next team meeting someone says, “Hey Don! That pizza event looked really awesome. What was it?” Then Don shares this to his team of 10 people and now 7 people who didn’t see his post are now informed of Pizza on the Prairie. His neighbors ask, his barista who follows him on Instagram followed up on it, and his grandma called him to ask more. The ROI of this engagement is powerful but intangible, untrackable but influential.
One of our hummingbirds is a contributing writer to ia magazine and wrote a piece on the experience. Another hummingbird blogs on the side and shared this with his personal Instagram AND his blog-centered Instagram (here’s his post!). Because Wallace Centers created such a magical experience, our hummingbirds went above and beyond what we asked them to do.
So, what did we ask them to do?
Show up, have pizza, take a photo and share it on Facebook and Instagram.
When you work with hummingbirds, you get to borrow and build on the trust they have created with their audience. There is nothing more powerful than word of mouth, especially when those words are created by people who are seen as positive contributors to their local community.
Is a membership right for you?
If you have a consistent offer, that can be made visible by the hummingbirds, that people can experience time after time, then come join the fun. Head to our contact page to begin the process.