A City Goes Social - Indianapolis' 500 Festival

While 500 miles of high-speed auto racing may be over in a flash, Indianapolis’ prestigious motorsports event inspires a full month of celebration. The city’s 500 Festival hosts more than 50 activities around the month of May, and with the introduction of TwineSocial’s Live Social Walls, this year’s organizers connected the community like never before.

No month is quite as fast-paced as May in Indianapolis. This year marked the 61st celebration of the 500 Festival—one of the nation’s largest gatherings. Built around the spirit and legacy of the famed Indy 500 race, the civic venture draws half a million participants. The secret to success? Coordinators have a knack for staying relevant—from the founders who launched with a square dance gala in 1957 to the digital media team who introduced streaming social media displays in 2017. That attentiveness to how people interact is what keeps the party rolling.

Naturally, in a modern era, social media is an essential tool for communicating and building excitement. That’s why each 500 Festival event incorporates its own hashtag. Among them, #BrickyardBreakfast salutes Indiana’s mayors, #IPL500Parade highlights one of America’s premier, nationally-televised parades, and #SnakepitBall gives a sneak peek view into the celebrity-laden, red carpet event held the night before the big race.

But instead of leaving social content online, Jeff Yoder, Digital Media Coordinator for the 500 Festival, found a way to bring the conversation on-site, too. Partnering with TwineSocial, the Festival proudly broadcast live streams of hashtagged content on pop-up screens. Attendees would see their own posts on display within moments of having shared online.

“The most effective use,” Yoder said, “has been at the Mini-Marathon Expo prior to the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. We used a scrolling wall with a live feed to bring in content surrounding the #IndyMini for the race. Expo-goers were drawn to the content on screen, and we hope it prompted many more people to use our hashtag and join the conversation.”

Customization options allowed for design features (like masthead, background image, color and button specs) to match the brand’s look and feel. That helped capture the attention of people passing by, and then, the magic happened. “Almost like a jumbotron at a sports game where everyone wants to get on camera,” Yoder recalled, the live display walls sparked a flood of activity.

It’s the kind of social engagement that represents a massive win for a group promoting connection and community spirit, so plans are already underway to expand the Festival’s live streaming in 2018. Since multiple campaigns can be managed under a single TwineSocial account, configuring custom displays for each hashtag will make publishing on event days as speedy as 1, 2, click.

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