Laconia Bike Week launches social media blitz

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The organizers of the upcoming Laconia Bike Week in New Hampshire are using social media to attract more riders to the annual rally.

"This is really the first year that we've used [social media] to any sort of a larger extent," festival director Jennifer Anderson told KARK.

Organizers previously stated that they expected attendance at this year's rally would be down, due to effects of the recession and high gas prices.

The rally, in its 88th year, kicks off on June 11. It’s gathered more than 8,000 Facebook fans so far. "Facebook is really allowing people to talk to each other," says Anderson. "My first reaction when people post a question is that I want to be the helpful first person to answer, but I don't have to. It's creating this nice little community that we don't have on our website."

Organizers also plan to use social media throughout the nine-day rally, banking on visitors carrying smartphones. They’re likely to get Tweets advising them of or giving directions to events.

This is the first year that sponsors have included in their advertisements QR Codes - bar codes that users can scan with their camera phones that can, for example, direct him or her to the advertiser's website. Harley-Davidson of Laconia is running contests through its Facebook page, one of which grants two attendees the chance to meet Jackyl, the band headlining the rally (and, in a nod to the band's signature on-stage prop, an autographed chainsaw).

"Social media, online marketing and mobile technologies have revolutionized the way we interact with customers," said Anne Deli, owner of Laconia Harley. "A recent survey of our customers and riders showed they are turning to the Web and social media to get more information about events, including Laconia Bike Week."

The rally is using the channels to attract people from all over the world, especially Germany and Canada. Bike Week has also teamed with Discover New England, the New Hampshire Department of Travel and Tourism and the Highland Lake Inn in Andover to plan tours for foreign visitors around motorcycle week.

Posted by Holly Wagner