Early next month they fill the park; over 200 of the finest works of art ever crafted. Sunday, June 9 is the culmination of a weekend-long celebration of all things automotive in this part of the country. The Ault Park Concours d’Elegance is one of the country’s premier classic car events and any fan of these beauties who is on social media has been hearing all about it for months thanks to Ben Wichner.

Wichner is the Social Media Manager for the Concours, a volunteer position he took in the fall of 2011. “Before the Concours, I was helping the previous owners of Fuel Coffee build more online presence thru Facebook and Twitter for their weekly Saturday morning Cars & Coffee cruise in,” he says. “A friend of mine linked me up with the Concours and I have been working with them ever since.”

As a somewhat younger-than-typical person in the classic car scene, Wichner brings an understanding of newer technology to this older hobby. He understands how social media works and uses it in ways not only get out information but to also attract people to the event.

“In order to keep people excited about the event you must keep your current fans engaged and always seek to build the base. I promote the event year ‘round. It starts to pick up a lot of momentum in the months leading up to the show,” he says.

The Ault Park Concours d'Elegance Facebook page keeps auto enthusiasts up to date

“Right now my focus is on Facebook and Twitter. I’m also dabbling in the lesser mainstream outlets such as Google Plus,” Wichner says, explaining his approach to social media. “There are always new outlets opening up so I’m looking for creative ways to reach folks in those areas.”  His efforts must be working – the Concours Facebook page alone has nearly 1200 “likes.”

It isn’t just the most recent online media being used by Wichner. He also points out that the Concours also has a very well-designed and maintained website, OhioConcours.com. It contains lots of information and pictures for this year’s events as well as large archives of years past.

Each year the Concours offers up a wide variety of vehicles on display. They range from cars and motorcycles to trucks and, as was the case last year, even classic boats. “We have a very diverse audience of folks who follow us on Facebook, so I post anything I can get my hands on as you don’t know what might catch someone’s interest.  Sharing cars selected for the show and updated event info has been especially popular with our fans online,” Wichner adds.

“The cars in in the Concours all come with great stories and history. People seem to really enjoy learning about them.” Explains Wichner. “Certainly some cars get more attention than others. As we get closer to the show on Sunday, June 9th, I will be sharing some very special cars linked to this year’s special displays for Corvette and Aston Martin,” he adds.

Being raised by two parents who were “car people” gave Wichner a solid background and love for automobiles. “I’ve always loved cars and learning how mechanical things work. My parents both are into cars especially muscle and British sports cars, so we went to a lot of events. Some of the favorites were the swap meets at the fairgrounds in Springfield, Ohio where I grew up; the Dayton British Car Show and the Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg Festival in Auburn, Indiana,” he says.

These weren’t necessarily his favorite cars growing up or even today. “I’ve always been a fan of the early Corvettes,” he says. And this year, he is in luck. This year one of the marque features is the Corvette. “I’m very excited to see the 60 Years of Corvette Special Display at our Concours this year. I’m also hopeful that we will have a C7 Corvette,” he said.

As in past years, the 36th annual event is partnering with the Arthritis Foundation to raise money to help in finding a cure – specifically for Juvenile Arthritis. The three-day event begins on Friday, June 7 with the Cruisin’ for a Cure Dinner and Live Auction. As Wichner has been pointing out through all of his social media channels, this will be held at the lush 1920s Pinecroft Mansion, former home of former Cincinnati Reds owner and renowned car enthusiast Powel Crosley.

This is followed on Saturday by The Countryside Tour; a chance for those folks to not only show off their cars but to take a nice scenic driving tour through the area – including a stop at the American Sign Museum. That is followed on Saturday evening by the Garage Party, featuring food and drink amid Porsches new and old. There is also a silent auction.

One of the coolest prizes to be raffled off this year is the Sport Driving School prize package. The winner gets two days of high-performance driving instruction at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama plus $1500 for travel and lodging.

But the main event is Sunday – when Ault Park gets filled with a vast array of automobiles. Over a dozen classes of exquisitely preserved vehicles will be on display. From the earliest motor cars through American and European collectors and all the way up to more modern machines (sure to be future collectables), the Concours has something for everyone to enjoy.

In addition to the “regular” classes, this year’s featured marque is Porsche. The From Road to Racing exhibit will showcase the line from the early 356 through the 911 and will also highlight racers as well as the most modern supercars. There are also two featured exhibits: Aston Martin 100th Anniversary and Corvette, 60 Years of An American Icon.

While Wichner gets most of the information he uses to update social media channels from others involved in the Concours, the really prime material – such as pictures and information about the cars – comes from the vehicle owners themselves. This is what makes his social media campaigns so successful.

“The most flattering things folks have done is share my posts with their friends or other car groups,” Wichner says. “Sharing is a feature on Facebook that lets you publish one person’s content easily across the web. Sharing is very much grassroots so we pick up a lot of fans this way.”

It isn’t just posting, which Wichner does year ‘round, a couple of times each week. The posts become more frequent the closer it comes to the event. The most important thing is to know what to post and when to post it.

“Facebook has a lot of great tools to help understand who sees your posts, how to engage your current audience and attract new fans. After building up a catalog of posts on Facebook you can compare the response you get from folks and start seeing trends about what works and what gets folks engaged,” he says. “Twitter is simpler in this way that it’s not so easy to see who is reading the posts.”

The feedback Wichner gets from his social media posts has always been positive. “Folks love these cars and learning about them. Everyone has a story of a time when they rode in a convertible growing up then they come to the Concours and see that model car on the infield at Ault Park and they are taken right back. I love hearing these stories from folks when we post an accepted car online,” he explains.

For Wichner, Facebook is his primary social media outlet. The site started in 2004 when he was in school and he has been a member from just about the beginning. The same holds true for his experience with Twitter.

Though his “day gig” is working as a packaging engineer, in the end it is Wichner’s combined knowledge of social media and his love of classic cars that fuels his passion for the Concours.

“Concours weekend has something for everyone,” he points out. Anyone who has been paying attention to Facebook or Twitter is well aware of this, thanks to the volunteer efforts of Ben Wichner.