Chris at HellRunner event at Delamere Forest near Northwich Cheshire

HellRunner – Social Media Case Study

Chris at HellRunner event at Delamere Forest near Northwich Cheshire
  • Increase Sign ups following year on year decline
  • Make more people aware of event
  • Don’t alienate loyal customers
  • Competitive Market (OCR / Mud Run)
  • 6 year decline in numbers
  • Year on year increase on event numbers
  • Increased following
  • Improved content, especially video
  • Improved sense of community
Bog of doom at HellRunner in Hampshire

Initial thoughts

When we first looked at the HellRunner social media strategy we came up with a content plan which involved training guides and fitness guides. We know that lot of the time the original plan will look completely different in 6-12 months time. 

We use analytics and insights to determine what content is working with our audience. In this case, we discovered that the majority of HellRunners were not necessarily your traditional runners. More likely they were the type that liked to complete a challenge with friends and more importantly for us, to shout about it on social media.

Video the Key?

One bit of content that seemed to connect was videos of the key obstacles, those that the competitor would get s face full of mud or bee nick deep in water. These posts worked well because people would share them to let everyone know just how tough this challenge was or tag a group of friends who they would like to take on the event with.

Close to the event these worked to engage people who would be taken on the event, causing trepidation and comments such as “what have I done!”

The on the day strategy became a race against time to capture enough video at these key points to use to promote the event for the next 6-12 months. We also filmed live and shared updates on the day. This had to positive outcomes. Number one it allowed friends and family to check in and offer words of support and it gave FOMO – Fear of missing out to those that had maybe considered signing up. 

Social media video posts


The great thing about social media is that if things don’t work, no one sees them! That is why we aimed to experiment and be innovative. When these posts connected they were some of our best performing content.


The nature of the HellRunner brand has enabled us to use humour in our social media activity. It also gave us a licence to be a bit cheeky with our responses to comment. Although unexpected the replies where well received. Most people expect a professional response, but the tone of voice of HellRunner allowed us to be playful. Our April fools posts became a highlight and give us the opportunity to create great levels of engagement.

Advice and USG

It quickly became clear than any advice we gave was disputed by loyal and experienced HellRunners!

We, turned the whole thing on its head and asked the community to for their advice. People responded really well and some of the answers were gold! We then created content such as blogs and posts from the answers we received.  It was a great way of repurposing user generated content and it was well received, both by those that were new to the event and those that had contributed.

Crest Social - the small agency that delivers big results! Chris delivers cohesive social media activity that is customer-focused, genuinely interactive and with loads of added value. Timely, trustworthy and strongly recommended.
Paul Magner
Owner - Trail Plus

Community Involvement ​

We were happy with the level of engagement and it became apparent that we had created a community. We were keen to capitalise on this and make people feel even closer to the brand.

We asked the community for help and feedback around all aspects of the event, including medal design, t-shirt colours and new event options. The great thing about this strategy is that you get some great ideas and feedback and people feel like that have had a part to play in the success of the event.

Build Up and Race Day​

In the weeks before we would always increase activity with the aim of building excitement. Examples included countdowns, sharing polls asking how prepared (or unprepared in most cases!) people were.

On the Day

As explained earlier on the day we had two objectives, to create FOMO and to focus on content that we could use for the next 12 months.  Stories and live video were key elements. Live video of the key obstacles worked brilliantly as people not at the event would watch, and then competitions would go back later to see if they could spot themselves and friends. If people were spotted they would tag them in to the post to alert them.

We would then thank everyone involved in making the event happen.

Post Event

Following the event we would continue to engage with feedback, ensuring we responded to all comments both positive (the majority) and the odd grumble. We would then share results, race photo, videos and almost immediately share the following years event with an early bird discount, either limited by price or numbers. This was a great way of capitalise on the good feeling from the event. This tends to wain and not be as effective with a delay between the event finishing and registration opening.

We would then share a comprehensive post event feedback which we would be used to tweak and improve the event each year.

Event Promotion

In amongst all this activity we would promote future events, both organically and through Facebook ads. We would share key messages about price increases and when popular waves and the event started to become full. This created a sense of urgency and allowed the majority of sign ups to happen early.

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