The Junior World Finals continues to grow, both in and out of the Wrangler Rodeo Arena.
Now in its fifth year running concurrently with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the Junior World Finals features some of the top young cowboys and cowgirls ranging in age from 8-19 competing in nine events: bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping and pole bending. The annual event, which this year is scheduled for Dec. 1-10, is expected to welcome more than 800 cowboys and cowgirls to the south hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
That’s just a tip of the iceberg for the Las Vegas Events-sponsored rodeo.
“I think in the last two years we’ve more than doubled our followers and our engagement,” said LVE Marketing Specialist Jessica Pease, who coordinates the digital and social media platforms for the Junior World Finals. “We’re seeing a huge increase in viewership on our pages and on different levels.
“We’ve got parents checking in to find out information, and we’ve got kids saying happy birthday to a fellow athlete or sharing certain aspects of the rodeo with us.”
Currently for the Junior World Finals, LVE operates a Facebook page, which has more than 10,000 followers, and an Instagram page (@juniorworldfinalslv), which has nearly 8,000 followers. Pease said the Facebook page is targeted more toward the parents while the Instagram page is targeted more toward the contestants.
Each platform contains information like the arena schedule and event sponsors, as well as live action photos of contestants, and birthday wishes to former Junior World Finals champions.
Those birthday posts have taken on a life of their own, according to Pease.
“This year we added birthday posts so that all 28 champions got an individualized birthday post on the platform, which has helped create an insane amount of engagement,” she said. “And we’ve done athlete highlights where each athlete that submitted a spotlight got a dedicated spotlight on our page.”
All of that has helped the social media aspect of the Junior World Finals reach even more people and achieve a dedicated following the past two years.
“From 2020 to 2021 we saw about a 25-percent increase in engagement,” Pease said. “It was about 1.5 million in impressions for the Junior World Finals and our audience growth was about 50 percent. Looking at this year, at this point in time our engagement is down but that’s because we haven’t made it to the event yet. But our followings are up 22 percent.”
As the Junior World Finals continues to grow – there were contestants from across the country as well as from Canada and Mexico in recent years – the social media aspect will naturally grow with it. In addition to coverage during the rodeo, Pease and LVE have taken steps to make conversations about the Junior World Finals a “year-round” thing.
“For the Junior World Finals we definitely know social media is going to be important because we are dealing with two different groups,” Pease said. “I would like to see more video coming out of the Junior World Finals so that we can in a way look back at the event the following year.
“Most people prefer video over a graphic or image or a photo carousel. That is going to be the biggest step for us is to incorporate video and videography into our social media feeds. We want it to be more than just the highlight reels we do of the entire Junior World Finals.”
The Junior World Finals will continue to use photos from Bull Stock Media for use on its Facebook and Instagram pages. But LVE is looking at ways to add even more content this year and in the future.
“We do have access to all of Bull Stock Media’s photography and that’s what we use all year long,” said Junior World Finals Assistant General Manager Brilynn Bentley, who also is responsible for LVE’s corporate marketing partnerships. “But as far as video goes, this year we will have the ability to pull everything that is recorded into one single platform.
“We are in a group that will continue to grow year after year because there are going to be different kids that are qualifying every year,” she added. “And then their friends are going to start following us because they see that something has been posted and they want to follow and support their friends. It’s just going to keep growing.”