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From the 11th Annual Shorty Awards

ESSENCE Festival

Entered in Live Events


The 2018 ESSENCE Festival Social Team set out to amplify the global impact of the world's largest annual entertainment and cultural event and engage new audiences with innovative social tools and platforms. The goal of the social media strategy was to provide an immersive experience for the entire ESSENCE audience---not just the consumers in attendance at the Festival but also those consuming all of the action from home.

The ESSENCE Festival team aimed to leverage its social platforms to reach a younger audience via new platforms like IGTV, as well as serve its multigenerational following via Facebook Live streams and Twitter conversations--- ultimately deepening engagement with the brand's international community of over 17 million.

Strategy and Execution

The #EssenceFestival social strategy was to drive audience engagement through forward-thinking tactics that prioritized the interests and elevated the social interactions among our community.

- ESSENCE Festival was the first live event to create a show on the new social platform IGTV (Instagram TV). The debut of ESSENCE's IGTV program "The Chair" focused on conversations with celebrities and influencers ultimately earning over 80k impressions.

- In an effort to target the brand's multi-generational audience and broader global community, ESSENCE launched its first multi-platform approach to live streaming by simultaneously utilizing Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

- Spotlighting consumer facing social activations and creating "instagramable" moments, ESSENCE utilized "Barbie Boxes" and social walls on-site as a creative backdrop to drive attendee engagement and social buzz.

- Partnering with influencers who connect with our audience, ESSENCE leveraged relationships with the following celebrities and digital news outlets that represent the passion and purpose of the Festval.

~ Gabrielle Union (Actress), Meek Mill (Rapper/Artist), Queen Latifah (Actress/Singer), Missy Elliott (Rapper/Artist), TheShaderoom (Online/Social media news outlet), Reginae Carter (Influencer), Naturi Naughton (Actress), Jess Hilarious Official (Comedian/Influencer), Questlove (Musician), New Orleans News (News outlet), Crissle West (Writer/Personality).


The 2018 ESSENCE Festival generated over 14.4 Billion social impressions; representing over 87 percent year over year growth and the largest impressions figure in the event's 24 year history.

Overall, interactions were over 103 million (likes, comments, and shares) with Instagram outperforming all other channels in terms of engagement, volume, and impressions.

Twitter provided the most overall ESSENCE Festival content due to retweets.

See full social media report here:


Entrant Company / Organization Name

ESSENCE Communications, Inc.