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Social Media in Action for Big Island Chocolate Festival 2012

I last wrote a post in late February. As a blogging social media enthusiast, I would never suggest going 3 1/2 months without posting…but I ask forgiveness as I just finished putting on the Inaugural Big Island Chocolate Festival at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai near Kona on June 8th. I had the opportunity to create a new non-profit, the Kona Cacao Association, in order to  have an organization that could own the event and then spent the past 3 1/2 months planning, organizing, promoting and fundraising for it!

The good news? We rocked it. And I was able to really put some great content into the Facebook page I created for the event and we ended up with 130 fans for the page. On top of that, we were able to engage our sponsors, promote ticket sales for the three events surrounding the Festival, and since the content from the business page also posted to Twitter, we created relationships with folks in the culinary and chocolate world, as well.

(For anyone looking for ideas on what to use for content for event promotion, take a look at all the interesting angles I took on getting content on the page almost four times a week)

Two of the people I connected with due to my tweeting about the event was Jacques and Hasty Torres, otherwise known as “Mr. Chocolate” and Madam Chocolat. They both are famous chocolatiers. Jacques is a TV personalty, chef and owner of five high end chocolate factories. They both agreed to be judges at our Festival and came to the Big Island to tour three cacao plantations, which they had never done before. Hasty tweeted about her experiences consistently to thousands of her followers. (We should promote a  “Chocolatier Tour” from where they stayed (The Fairmont Orchid) to all the farms they visited!)

The photo is from left-Chef Hubert de Marsais, Hasty Torres, Jaques Torres, Stephen Rouelle and myself. Both Chef Hubert and Stephen catered the event from the Fairmont Orchid.

I asked the owners of a multi-million dollar estate in Hualalai to host a pre-event wine and chocolate tasting as a way to help pay for Jacques and Hasty to come to Hawaii and be our judges. The owner/Realtor said yes and we had an amazing evening with 40 guests. To say the both the wine and chocolate tasting evening and the Chocolate Festival created an amazing array of social media marketing opportunities is an understatement. The woman who is helping to market the Hualalai estate where we held the party wrote a fun post and included pics of the guests and the house and put it out all over Twitter.

She got the buzz going on about the tasting and I cranked it on the Festival, so we both got the word out in the media and each time an article ran in the newspapers, I put it on the Chocolate Festival fanpage and we both put it out on Twitter. By the time Hasty Torres met me in real life, she recognized me for all the info I put out on the #BigIslandChocoFest hashtag which she had been following on behalf of her hubby!

(I saw a picture of Hasty on the front cover of a magazine from her Twitter stream and I realized she was about as famous as her husband! If you love chocolate and want to follow an extremely bright entrepreneur, follow her at @madam_chocolat)

The Festival drew about 250 guests and we raised quite a bit of money for my children’s school, Kona Pacific Charter School and the “Equip the Kitchens” campaign for the Hawaii Community College at Palamanui. We made the front cover of our local newspaper, West Hawaii Today, too! (As any of my PR friends know…that is THE BEST feeling!)

I got some nice Twitter messages from both Jacques (aka Hasty!) and Stephen Rouelle, one of the chefs from the Fairmont Orchid, who helped his team win the competition for best Savory.

As a fundraiser and a top notch culinary event, it was definitely a an opportunity to showcase the power of how to use

social media in event promotion and relationship creation with sponsors and was gold.

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2 Responses to Social Media in Action for Big Island Chocolate Festival 2012

  1. Laura Kinoshita (@Lkinoshita) June 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    Congratulations, Julie! What an awesome case study, I am *so happy* for you. May this be the beginning of many, many wonderful opportunities. If you have suggestions for a chocolate tour, I’m looking to take Ethan and some other 1st graders on a “flavor” tour of the Big Island the week of August 13th — would love some recommendations of where to go.

    • admin February 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

      Laura-I missed this! Hope you were able to discover the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory in Keauhou. They provide samples of their chocolate with their tours. We are doing a chocolate/wine tasting for the adult flavor finders on March 21st..hope you will come!

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