In a recent blog post, we discussed the importance of incorporating user-generated content into your content marketing strategy, which offers the following benefits:
- Increases your rich content
- Cuts through advertising clutter
- Builds trust
- Improves your search engine presence
- Boosts social media engagement rates
- Extends you brand’s reach
- Lowers your overall marketing spend
User-generated content is uniquely suited to increase word of mouth advertising for DMOs. Many fans are already posting pictures of your destination on social media, so you have the opportunity to identify social media influencers and tap into their fan base to increase your reach. These recommendations are coming from a trusted source, which can be more valuable than traditional forms of advertising.
Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau wanted to capitalize on all of the benefits that user-generated content has to offer, so they created the #LoveAmelia Photo Contest.
Throughout the month of September, fans of Amelia Island could submit up to 20 photos from their recent trip to the island. The images depicted why they love visiting Amelia Island, highlighting why the island is one of the top travel destinations in the United States.
We created a microsite where fans could post all of their images in an interactive gallery. The microsite also hosted the official rules for the contest, information about the prizes and bios on the judges.
To entice people to submit photos, we offered two prizes. The grand prize winner, who was selected by the judges, won a four-night stay at the Addison on Amelia. We awarded the person with the most-shared photo, three nights at the Radisson Inn by Marriott, Amelia Island. This prize encouraged participants to share their photos on their own social media feeds with the branded “#LoveAmelia” hashtag, greatly extending the brand’s reach.
Through daily social media posts, we were able to tap into the networks of Amelia Island’s fans, extending the brand’s reach to an audience that is bigger and more diverse than its own. Consumers saw these images and their friends speaking favorably about Amelia Island, gaining powerful recommendations for the brand. A study conducted by Nielsen stated that 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from their family and friends over all other forms of advertisements.
To encourage more participation, we created a display campaign and a Facebook ad. We targeted personal travelers, leisure travelers and beach lovers in cities that offer direct flights to Jacksonville, the closest international airport to Amelia Island.
We then incorporated some of the submitted images into Amelia Island’s social media strategy and weekly emails. We featured the photos on Amelia Island’s Facebook and Twitter pages, increasing the likelihood that participants would share the contest with their friends. Once participants saw that their image was featured on the brand’s pages, they became even more invested.
Overall, the #LoveAmelia Photo Contest microsite received 366 entries from 37,692 sessions. Social media was a big driver of contest entries, accounting for 69 percent of entries. The results for the Facebook ad were the following:
- Impressions – 72,678
- Reach – 48,131
- Clicks – 1,720
- Website Clicks: 968
- CTR – 2.37%
The photo selected by the judges’ had 81 impressions via social sharing, while the most-shared photo was viewed 2,734 times on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus and through email.
In addition to measuring entries for the contest, Amelia Island received 528 new Facebook page likes. The highest daily increases in net likes throughout September were days we posted imagery from the contest.
Beyond increased reach, impressions and likes, we were able to identify the top social media influencers, the top viral entries, the number of visits per state and which social media platforms received the highest engagement. This information will be crucial for Amelia Island as they create a social media content strategy, because they now know who is engaged in the brand and the type of content that they are engaged in.
People turn to social media for recommendations and feedback from “real” people. The #LoveAmelia Photo Contest capitalized on user-generated content and greatly increased exposure and trust in the Amelia Island brand. Through the contest, Amelia Island was able to turn their fans into brand ambassadors, greatly impacting reach and future Amelia Island travel.
Learn more about how we can incorporate user-generated content into your content marketing strategy.
A veteran in Destination and Hotel Sales and Marketing, Shirley utilizes her expertise to develop services that assists DMO’s in research, generating leads and increasing awareness for the destination’s meetings product and experiences.