WE set off to ‘Live Blog’ the Hedon Biker Weekend over the long weekend – and whilst that was a misnomer as we didn’t have the technology to broadcast ‘live-as-it-happens’, rather it was blogging, more often, whilst located at the event – and set up base at the Haven Arms Restaurant and Bar with an ‘operations table’ in the corner. The #HedonBiker Weekend event itself was a success as we have previously blogged, but this is a summary of what we learned from the experience – and why we will repeat the exercise at other events.
Thanks first to the Haven Arms for allowing us to conduct this blogging exercise. Hospitality from Mark and Alison and the staff there was exemplary; on a side issue, it also revealed to us just how hard they work there to put on an event. When we were going home with tired, droopy eyes, the Haven team were still firing on all cylinders!
With the laptop, microphone, cameras set up and ready, and using the pubs wi-fi, we set off to record the event over the next three days. It was unfortunate that we were a team member down which meant that we covered less, but Hull Journalism student, Danielle Hayes, stepped up to the mark and proved invaluable. There is a practical issue here and that’s security for the kit we were using. Thanks therefore to Janice Edmonds and Withernsea biker Mike Ovenden who baby-sat the equipment whilst Danielle and I were on blogging duty.
In advance of the day we had set up an Instagram account for the Hedon Blog, which added to our other social media channels of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. We created the hashtag #HedonBiker to glue together all those accounts.
In actual fact, we posted only seven blog posts on the Hedon Blog using the #HedonBike tag on Friday (4) and Saturday (3). The additional posts, however, seemed to generate a growing audience and by midnight Saturday 16th April, we’d had 3,582 web views that day representing 705 visitors with each spending an average of 5 minutes reading/browsing the blog. That compares with only 418 views with 231 visitors the previous Saturday.
Our Facebook insight stats for last week record a 28.7% increase in page visits (nearly 15,000) with 23 new friends for the page. Whilst Facebook has become increasingly popular, we are aware that we have a sizeable Hedon Blog audience that is not on that particular social network, but we still try to spend some considerable time on Facebook sharing news, events and information. We posted 18 updates to Facebook relating to #HedonBiker.
We never measured our stats before #HedonBiker for the @HedonBlog Twitter Account, but we did embed a twitter feed into both Hedon Blog and HU12 Online so that readers could enjoy/view all the specific tweets (15) about the event.
We uploaded 24 event specific images to our Flickr account which are now available in an album: Flickr #HedonBiker. Instagram was new for us. We posted 5 event images and gained 21 followers.
YouTube: Until this event the video-sharing network had only been used occasionally by Hedon Blog – but we made efforts on Saturday to conduct interviews, uploading five of these, plus a video of the bikers riding along Havenside for the ride out, to the channel.
Sound. We conducted one sound-only interview with one of the entertainers.
Lessons learned? A few things went wrong, mostly with video. Massively embarrassing was the video interview I (Ray Duffill) held with a very nervous Ian Baldwin one of the organisers. Interview completed five minutes later – I’d not hit the record button! Another interview was brilliant in picking up the sound of motorbikes revving, and the wind blowing… rather than the voice of the person being interviewed.
Again, Ray cocked up in Hedon town centre when he tried to both film and take photographs using the same camera, resulting in poor quality photo shots and video footage.
As a former stage lighting technician, the Hedon Blogger should have known better, but he still let one of the leading organisers of the biker event be obscured by shadows in one of the video interviews!
Danielle saved the video day for us though with her excellent, steady footage of the ride-out down Havenside.
Danielle in her comments about the day provided some solid advice: “I would say it is always vital to know how your equipment works, make sure it’s working properly…”. Well said!
On sound: The cheap computer microphone would have done the job for the interview with the entertainer if it hadn’t been for the distracting background noises and music.
The distracting background sounds on our video interviews did perhaps spoil one of them. Investing in a proper microphone fit-for-purpose just might be necessary!
Blogging on location – did it work for us?
We hope so! We’re particularly keen to hear from people who can tell us if they found out about the event via the Hedon Blog or one of our #HedonBiker social media channels. No matter what the stats might say, Hedon Blog always relies on what real people, in real local communities tell us about our service.
It does appear that the Hedon Blog coverage did contribute in a small part to the ‘buzz’ generated around the town over the biker event. If that’s the case, then blogging on location needs to become the norm for our coverage – and we need to look at ways that we can extend and develop this idea.
If you like what we do and would like to volunteer as a blogger with the Hedon Blog (or our parent site HU12 Online covering the wider area) – then let us know using any of the social media channels or via snail-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
We finish with Danielle’s raw, unedited YouTube footage of the ride out on Havenside.