The Kentucky Derby is one of a kind event. Mint juleps all around. Beautiful hats that display personality and creativity fill the stands at Churchill Downs. Amazing horses display their athletic ability around the track to compete in the most exciting two minutes in sports.

I did not go to the event this year, but I was able to attend at least virtually, thanks to social media. In fact, I was able to see first hand some of the work three of my former students were able to create on the various platforms. Danielle Henson, Bell Holder, and Sebastian Inchauste were three of the social media interns this year for the Kentucky Derby.

What were some of the trends we were able to see from the Kentucky Derby as far as social media goes? Here are some of my thoughts:

Live video was implemented EVERYWHERE

Showcasing the horses for the Kentucky Derby warming up in the morning? Check. Live video of the red carpet? Yep. You name it, there was live video for this. I would be interested to see how these numbers compared to the previous year, but checking out what was presented on FB live, I’d say these are pretty strong numbers.

Well done with the live videos and commentary here, Danielle!

All about Instagram Stories
Major, MAJOR shout out to Bell for her awesome work on IG. I remember seeing Bell in my social media class this past semester doing some amazing things with IG stories. She actually used stories to take notes and was extremely creative in how she used the text features and visually communicated information. As soon as I saw this, I knew she had to show this to Maggie Ray (who is the star social media professional for the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs).

How did Bell do? Fabulously! What really impressed me about IG stories was the range of content that was showcased during the day. There was a mixture of pictures, text only pictures, videos, people showcasing their fashion and fun at the event, dancing, horses, boomerangs, etc. This really told the story of what it was like at the event in a visual way. Each picture showcased a strong brand message.

Snapchat first hand experience with Spectacles part of the strategy
The Kentucky Derby had their own pair of Spectacles for the event, which was pretty cool to see. There were a few snaps where it showed people ordering various mint juleps or walking around Churchill Downs during the event. You really do get a first person perspective here with these glasses, which make them a very popular tool to have here, especially in the sports industry.

I was happy to know both Bell and Sebastian had a chance to try out these ahead of time with their social media campaign proposal for the Louisville Bats before implementing these for an event like this.

Geofilters were present at the event and around town
I thought the branded geofilters for the Kentucky Derby on their official story were very good. They had one for Churchill Downs, and then one for the Derby. However, the only one I was able to get for the day was this branded one for Marker’s Mark.

While I appreciate their effort, I think this could have been approached differently, especially with the font. It was a little hard to read to be honest, so this may be something to keep in mind for the future.

There even was a lense you could use to celebrate the big day as well, which of course had to be used to celebrate the Kentucky Derby.

Brand voice was present, but was presented in different ways
This is what was very cool to see from my student’s angle. While they all made sure they stayed true to the brand voice for the Kentucky Derby, you could tell their own little twists to how to present this content.

I could tell what images, updates, and pictures were taken from Danielle and which ones came from Bell or Sebastian. I was able to recognize each of these not only because I had them in class, but they were able to showcase their unique skills to the mix.

For example, I know Sebastian thrives in capturing first POV perspective with Snapchat, so I knew when I would see snaps like that, they were from him. I knew when I saw creative visual text displays on IG stories, that was Bell. I knew when I saw videos that showed the horses in the stables, that was Danielle. Each student was able to shine based on their skills, but they were all able to contribute to a consistent brand voice across the channels. It appeared to me they were all on the same wavelength, but were able to bring their own individual perspectives to the table as well.

I couldn’t be prouder of the work these three students have done. This was Danielle’s second Derby working on the social media team (yay Danielle!) and this was Sebastian and Bell’s first time.

It’s awesome to be able to see them apply what they learned in class outside of UofL. Major thanks to Maggie for giving these students such a truly epic and life changing opportunity! To be able to say they were able to work on the social media team for the Kentucky Derby is truly once in a lifetime opportunity.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,