Whether you’re visiting New Orleans for the first time this Carnival season or you’re a seasoned Mardi Gras pro, we bet you can learn a thing or two from our digital marketer’s guide to making the most out of Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Finding your friends can be tough during Mardi Gras due to the big crowds, loud noises, and poor cell phone service.
What do you do if your texts aren’t going through and your buddy is too busy catching beads to pick up the phone?
Create a new venue on Foursquare when you stake out your spot so everyone knows where to go without having to call you.
Tweet your location using the hashtags #NeutralGround or #SidewalkSide so you’re easier to find, or geo-tag your Instagram posts so your friends can simply pull up a map to your location.
You could also make a Facebook event to mass invite your friends to where you’re headed.
It’s hard to make good decisions after a few beers, so use your social network to your advantage. Browse hashtags like #mardigras2017, #followyournola, or #neworleans to find out what people are doing in real time. Search Facebook to find out what after-party venues your friends like the best. Check-in on Yelp to find out where to go for deals and coupons.
Follow @NOLAReady and @NewOrleansRTA on Twitter for real-time traffic and emergency updates. A useful app, particularly during Mardi Gras, is the new GoMobile app from NORTA (see more in our “Guide to Apps” section below). Remember, NORTA runs modified routes and schedules during Mardi Gras, so you may choose to take a cab or use the Uber app. If you’re getting into a cab alone, send a DM to your friends of the cab ID number or a photo of the cab’s ID, and then message them again when you arrive home safely. If you see something, tweet something – tell @NOLAReady what you saw and where. Send a photo if possible.
And last, but definitely not least, Instagram your photos, tweet your thoughts, and check-in everywhere so when you wake up Wednesday morning (with a raging hangover), you can remember how much fun you had! Enjoy this Mardi Gras weekend, stay safe, and of course make sure to laissez les bon temps rouler!
Essential Reading for Revelers: The Ultimate Guide to Mardi Gras Apps
We’ve scoured the bead- and booze-filled depths of the Internet in search of the best social savvy tips and apps to help you win at Mardi Gras this year, and much to our dismay, there was little to be found. So we did what few agencies ever dare to do… actual research! We’ve made phone calls to longstanding Carnival veterans, downloaded countless apps, and spent the last 2 weeks parading tirelessly to test out each of these tips and Mardi Gras apps. We can safely say that this is the ultimate digital and social guide to winning at Mardi Gras.
Only rookies pick out their costume hours before they hit the parade routes. Pros know to plan ahead, so check out these tips to read before you revel:
1. Clean out that phone.
Make room. No saved photos. No useless apps. No battery vampires. You’re going to need all that space and power to stay socially relevant this Mardi Gras.
2. Organize those apps.
We’ll be sharing some very helpful apps with you below, but aside from those, you’ll certainly want to have your favorite camera, video and social apps at your fingertips throughout the day. That said, dedicate either an app group or a full screen on your phone to nothing but your Mardi Gras apps. You don’t want to waste the day digging through thousands of apps while an entire super krewe rolls by.
3. Mardi Gras Mambo to-go.
Sure, there are hundred of bands marching through the streets and thousands of bars filled with music, but how will you keep the good times rolling when you drop into someone’s house party, or when your riding across town? Naturally, you should have a decent selection of Mardi Gras tunes ready to roll out, because if not you, then who? If you don’t already have a bevy of Carnival classics, download 8tracks and type in “Mardi Gras” for a good variety of user-generated playlists. You can also borrow our Mardi Gras playlist on Spotify!
4. Map it out.
A few hours of reveling, and even the best plans are abandoned for a passing opportunity (and so they should be), but it’s better to have a plan to abandon than to have no plan at all. There are many parade/party apps available, and several of them offer parade tracking, but the best we’ve found is WWL’s Mardi Gras Parade Tracker. This is an essential tool that will allow you to see any parade when and where you want to see it.
After knowing where you’re going, well, you’ll need to get there. For that, the best way by bus or by streetcar is WDSU’s Transit Tracker or the GoMobile app from New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (NORTA). Biking is also a great way to avoid traffic altogether. If you’re planning on driving, plan on walking as well since you’ll likely have to park your car in a nearby neighborhood, and you’ll need to find your way back later. For that, we suggest Honk, an excellent car finder and parking meter alarm.
5. Friend up.
Don’t go tryin’ to Mardi Gras alone. You may end the day with more friends, but it’s good to know you’ve already got a few going into it (even if they disappear into a sea of beads in the first hour). Some of the best moments in Mardi Gras come from randomly running into a friend in the middle of a crowd, and sometimes, you may find yourself hoping you’ll find a friend after realizing that no one is going to text you back in the middle of a parade. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. In fact, we’ve found 2 apps that’ll do nicely for you and your Mardi Gras friends.
Apple’s Find My Friends is an easy way to not have to worry about when and where you’ll meet up with everyone. Just download it, invite whichever friends you’d like to be able to find throughout the day, and, assuming they want to be found, you’ll be one big happy family wherever you go. Glympse is a great alternative and less of a commitment for all parties involved. The app allows you to geotag your location and set an amount of time that you’ll be there. You can then share this information with whomever you want via a text message with a link they can open and view in their browser (no app needed on their end).
We’re talking about drinking water in this case, since we know you won’t have any problem drinking booze (which is why you need the water). 8 cups of water a day is what you should be guzzling on any given day of the year, so getting at least that much while day-drinking, dancing and parading is essential. Also, you’ll thank yourself the next day when everyone else’s hangover is worse than yours. With that said, here’s a simple free app that will help keep you hydrated all day: Daily Water.
Bonus: Mardi Gras veterans should have stock in Pedialyte. It would also make a great throw. Point being, pros know that hydration is key.
7. Find bathrooms.
After drinking all that water, among other things, you are no doubt in dire need of a restroom. Instead of trying to figure out which two cars would be best to squat between (remember, it’s illegal!), consider the following solutions.
Many local schools, churches and home-owners along the parade routes will let you use their restrooms or port-a-potties, for a fee.
8. Find everything else.
ATMs. Bars. Drug stores. Taxis. These are all things you may find yourself looking around for during Mardi Gras. But there are several simple solutions to save you time and get you back in the Carnival game. Our favorites? AroundMe and Yelp. Yelp may be the most extensive business finding tool out there, but AroundMe is entirely focused on simply finding what you need, without the added clutter of reviews and further info. It’s been a lifesaver more than once, and it’s invaluable during Mardi Gras.
9. Fill ‘er up.
A decent breakfast is highly recommended, since you’ll likely be drinking before noon. No, a Bloody Mary is not a meal. And make sure you feed your phone too. Leave the house with a full charge, a portable charger, and a portable battery (also fully charged). We recommend New Orleans’ own MobileQubes, since they actually have multiple stations in the CBD where you can swap out your drained battery for a fresh one for just a few dollars. If you don’t have a battery already, you can also pick one up from any of their vending machines.
Now you’re ready to revel and win at Mardi Gras. Please make use of these tips, and let us know how it goes. We’ll see you on the Avenue!
Mardi Gras Social Media Etiquette
Sharing is Caring
DO: Sharing your experience is perfectly acceptable as long as it’s your experience. Updating what you’re doing through Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like is a great way to provide your friends and family in other cities with a taste of New Orleans’ favorite holiday. Besides, everyone wants to be in on the action.
DON’T: Exploiting the experiences of strangers, on the other hand, isn’t cool. This is Mardi Gras and it’s no surprise that some people get a little out of control; you wouldn’t want someone Twitpic-ing or Instagramming your worst moment, so don’t do it to someone else.
DO: This is Mardi Gras, and the booze will be flowing. There is something endearing — cute, almost — in posting an #oops-worthy update. Let’s be honest, we’ve all been guilty of the #tipsytweet. Be sure to only post what you’d be comfortable having your mom read or see.
DON’T: Everyone has a limit and, when you reach yours, it’s time to cut yourself off — from social media, that is. No one wants to have to spend 10 minutes deciphering your drunken code, so stay away from the Twitter late at night (or early in the morning … we don’t judge!).
Throw me a Hashtag, Mister!
DO: If you’re in town for Mardi Gras you should use hashtags like #mardigras or #nola to help integrate yourself in the current online community as well as leverage current conversations. If you’re at a parade and trying to meet up with folks, use the tags!
DON’T: Using hashtags to exploit trending topics or online communities, on the other hand, is tacky. If you’re a chiropractor in the boonies don’t use the hashtag #mardigras to promote your unrelated services. When searching the streams, be it on Twitter or Instagram, people want to see relevant content – don’t spam us!
“Check-in” It Out
DO: Let your friends know where they can find you by checking into restaurants or bars throughout the city. Definitely check-in to the parade routes, and be sure to geo-tag your photos! Let people know that that picture of the best Bloody Mary in the entiiiiiire world, for example, was taken at Igor’s on St. Charles so they can go get one!
DON’T: Don’t be one of those guys who checks into 15 different places in a matter of minutes. We all know you’re not there. Also, for your safety, we recommend being aware of where you are checking in and whom you’re checking in with. Not everyone wants their house party featured on Foursquare, and sometimes, checking in alone at night as a single female isn’t a good idea.
Seize the Moment. And the Beads.
DO: We all have smart phones, and we’re all connected. Use your phone to enhance and share your Mardi Gras experience. There’s nothing wrong with snapping a few quick pics, sending an awesome Twitter update or taking a few seconds of video. We are all going to be doing it.
DON’T: This is New Orleans. And, it’s Mardi Gras. Don’t miss the moment by spending too much time on your phone, camera, whatever. You only live once, so live it up here.
Mardi Gras is almost upon us and FSC couldn’t be more ready! Celebrate the biggest party of the year with our playlist including hits from Galactic, Dr. John, Lil Wayne, and Louis Armstrong. Wishing you all a safe and happy Mardi Gras!
Bonus: Insider Mardi Gras Tips
Check out these insider tips from our friends at GoNOLA.com and Bienville House, and experience Mardi Gras like a local: