The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is an annual event held in New York City featuring thousands of dogs across hundreds of breeds, with tens of thousands of attendees. Millions more tune-in online and on-air, catching highlights and the finals broadcasted on television, live from Madison Square Garden, on CNBC and USA Networks.
In 2015, GLOW and the Westminster Kennel Club set out to extend this epic live event in an unprecedented, all-access digital pass to exhibitors, attendees, and those watching from home. Over the course of three days, from February 15-17, our goals were to: grow platform followings during this period of heightened conversations; increase home viewer engagement with Westminster's social accounts; and build brand, event, and broadcast awareness amongst a new demographic.
GLOW and the Westminster Kennel Club developed and executed a three-pronged social strategy to address each piece of our three-part objective. We kept the social content online relevant to what was happening in real-time at the 139th Dog Show, served the viewers and fans the content and information they wanted, and above all, made sure to always be showcasing the event's true stars, the dogs.
The key to keeping social content online relevant to fans was giving them a glimpse to what was happening at the Show leading up to the evening television broadcasts, even if they were not able to attend the show in person. New in 2015 for at-home fans following the Show online were exclusive, behind-the-scenes live-streams. WKC and GLOW partnered with Nest to set up four (4) Dropcams throughout the benches and rings to continually stream online throughout the three days of competition; traffic to those streams were driven by custom graphics posted by WKC and Nest's social accounts, which encouraged tune-in and toggling between the different live feeds for fans to catch what was happening. In real-time, they could watch the dogs, and humans, primped, prepped, and pranced between events.
Video was also a big part of the social content strategy, and throughout competition, custom clips, slow-motion videos, and hyperlapse time-lapses were regularly posted across all platforms to the fans' joy. Particularly compelling moments in the rings and on the floor were turned into GIFs, and re-purposed as additional content throughout the event.
Fan demand for information was high during the three days of competition; around-the-clock community management kept fans informed and engaged, particularly when we could direct them to more details on the show, how to access the BTS streams, and when their favorite breeds and categories were scheduled. To keep fans in the loop as the competition narrowed, we posted real-time judging results with beautiful custom graphics. Distinct branding, through application of Westminster's iconic purple and gold, helped the outcomes stand out from the rest of what was happening in social and facilitated easy sharing of official updates.
Fans at home could also get into the competition themselves! On Facebook, we launched, pre-Show, a Best at Home activation. Users submitted photos of their own dogs for public voting, and during the Show itself, the Top 50 were reviewed by esteemed Westminster host David Frei, who selected the Winner and Reserve. We announced the top dogs with custom graphics atop their original photos.
Finally, to extend the excitement of Westminster to new audiences, we partnered with Snapchat's editorial team for a Live Story on the last day of competition. Additional custom video and photo content was pushed exclusively through the app, which led younger fans to find the Show on our other platforms to find more content and, to their joy, more dogs.
The 139th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was a resounding success on social media. We grew our platform followings significantly across the three days of competition, reached and engaged with millions of viewers, and brought dogs and the Westminster Kennel Club to many new audiences on new platforms through our digital and social activations.
By keeping our content timely and relevant, informative and dog-focused, we successfully increased our Instagram following by 107% and our Twitter followers by 28%, all over just three days. In that same period, over 7.8 million Facebook users were reached, and we achieved an average engagement rate of 10.77%.
During Tuesday's television broadcast of the final night, 4 of the top 10 Twitter trends in the United States were related to the Dog Show: #WKCDogShow, #BestInShow, Miss P (the 2015 Champion, in an upset) and Swagger (the top-ranked 2015 frontrunner). We were also the top-rated Nielsen Twitter TV story of the night, beating out notoriously social shows like Pretty Little Liars and The Flash for the night's most social chatter for television.
Reach performance of our Snapchat Live Story partnership far exceeded expectations, bringing the Westminster Kennel Club to millions of younger viewers.
As a final testament to our success, this was all achieved with no paid support—all growth and reach was organic. We were able to achieve success and connect with dog lovers on the enthusiasm of our audience, the value of the Westminster brand, the joy of dogs, and the savvy execution of a smart strategy.
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