If you’ve ever seen a Cirque du Soleil show, you know the heights of excitement, wonder and whimsy they’re able to create within each gravity-defying performance.
But what if you could go behind the curtain and play a part in the broader Cirque du Soleil story?
Well, that’s exactly what this global entertainment brand has set out to do: redefine how they interact with fans beyond their shows.
By leveraging Stackla, the strength of their social media presence and the passion of their international fanbase, Cirque du Soleil has successfully put their audiences at the center of their digital strategy.
“Social is the dominant communication mode for people today,” said Pierre-Paul Larivière, Director of Digital Ecosystem at Cirque du Soleil. “But you can’t have impactful interactions with people on social media without letting them know who you are. That’s why we decided to start a campaign called #CirqueWay.”
As their website explains:
#CirqueWay speaks to the unique way in which we do things: we take every day reality and turn it into something bolder, more daring. It’s about finding joy and wonder in experience big and small. It’s not just looking at the bright side, it’s in looking at things upside down. It’s a point of view on life that we have in common with our fans and that we want to share with the world.
With that ethos in place, the first phase of their #CirqueWay campaign was launched featuring social content created by their own performers and employees.
“We started by leveraging the people in every department at Cirque du Soleil—from costumes and props to marketing and everything in between,” Pierre-Paul said. “We pushed a lot of short videos featuring casting and performance science to give people a behind-the-scenes look at how our shows come together.”
This first step into user-generated content (UGC) proved to be very popular with Cirque du Soleil’s social audiences, reaching 649 million people the first year and 1.1 billion people the following year.
Now in its third year, Cirque du Soleil wanted to put their fans at the heart of their #CirqueWay campaign and their overall digital brand.
Bringing Fan Content to Life Across Cirque’s Digital Platforms
“Since we were intent on making our digital brand about our fans and their experiences,” Pierre-Paul explained, “we needed a platform that would allow us to discover our best fan content across various social networks and use it as a constant source of fresh content for our online show pages.
“What we were able to get from Stackla was a robust, yet flexible, platform that integrated with our Sitecore sites and made it easy to find, search and use high-quality fan content while also centralizing it for evergreen use.”Pierre-Paul Larivière, Director of Digital Ecosystem at Cirque du Soleil
With Stackla’s AI-powered visual content engine, Cirque du Soleil was able to easily source and expertly weave real fan experiences throughout much more than just their show webpages.
“Stackla has allowed us to push authentic customer content across our show webpages, social commerce and digital in-venue billboards around the world,” Pierre-Paul said.
That’s right, all of Cirque du Soleil’s 18 shows—plus their eight Blue Man Group shows in various U.S. and global markets—feature fresh content from the audience themselves. As Pierre-Paul put it, “The most dynamic modules across our website are Stackla-powered, showcasing raw fan experiences that are relevant to each specific show.”
Using a combination of show-specific hashtags and geolocation tags, Stackla seamlessly provides Cirque du Soleil with this scalable source of authentic content. And since Cirque du Soleil’s digital platforms support up to 12 different languages, Stackla is able to help their team curate and automatically contextualize the text in each post they aggregate and publish.
Adding another dimension to their digital interaction with fans, Cirque du Soleil uses Stackla to put real-time audience content on live screens in their show lobbies and gift shops. “Everyone gets excited to see the pictures they just posted on the digital screens throughout our venues,” Pierre-Paul shared. “It makes them feel like the star of the evening.”
Taking it a step further, Cirque du Soleil is now preparing to launch UGC-powered customer emails featuring interactive audience content from the shows people recently attended, encouraging them to join in sharing their show and #CirqueWay experiences online.
The #CirqueWay campaign is also now fully expanded to include fan content with tons of photos and videos of Cirque du Soleil fans living the #CirqueWay being created and shared every day—and they’re pretty amazing.
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Everyday you show us the extraordinary ways you #CirqueWay. Check out some of the top #CirqueWay moments from this year! . . . . (credit: @impact.brothers, @wayne_skiv04, @acroairlines, @vivalastina, @anjaluna.cirque, @samanthasendel, @ridelifetv, @theincredibleholt, @aboufreestyle, @jessikawinnie, @aruna_bt, @lehacirk, @abby.richert, @nelsonsmyles, @klbacrobata)
User-Generated Content as a Recruiting Tool
It’s not just consumer audiences that flip out for user-generated content. Cirque du Soleil also harnesses the power of UGC to help them recruit new artists and performers.
With Stackla’s help, Cirque du Soleil is able to easily curate and showcase the UGC created by their employees on their main CDS Entertainment Group Casting site.
As Pierre-Paul said, “Nothing will prepare somebody more for what it takes to perform in a Cirque du Soleil show than to see and hear it first-hand from those who do it day in and day out.”
The ROI of UGC
Cirque du Soleil had set out to shine a spotlight on fan experiences across their digital platforms and Stackla helped them do it—boosting their social reach, improving efficiencies and maintaining a fresh, authentic source of visuals across all their digital channels.
“Our fans generate nearly 50,000 pieces of authentic content every 3 months and we utilize around 13,600 of those visuals across our digital channels. It would take two additional full-time employees to manually go through that volume of content, but with Stackla our existing team can curate and moderate all that content in just a few hours per week—leaving more time for us to focus on other activities that can move the needle for our business.”
Between their touring and resident shows, Cirque du Soleil had about 30 people around the world constantly curating and pushing content out through their social and digital channels.
Pierre-Paul said, “Stackla’s AI-powered content curation and predictive recommendations have allowed our busy team to quickly and efficiently acquire high-quality fan visuals and publish them to all our most relevant digital channels with the click of a button.”
With this steady volume and mix of images and video footage from real fans, Cirque du Soleil is always able to feed their digital production pipeline without having to bend over backwards or spend a fortune. “We don’t have to shoot and pay for all this content and it’s reusable once we’ve rights managed it through Stackla,” Pierre-Paul said.
Not to mention, it’s engaging on and offline audiences and effectively growing their social reach. This year’s #CirqueWay campaign has reached 2.8 billion people. For reference, that’s about the same reach as Facebook.
“Stackla’s technology is always evolving. It’s that rare occasion where you find a partner that actually delivers exactly what they sold you. They’ve helped us celebrate our fans and employees while improving the quality of the digital experiences we can create for them.”