Photo Credit: Visit Philadelphia
In the increasingly competitive game to attract tourists, cities across the United States are deploying social media in new and unique ways. Case in point: Visit Philadelphia, which has been making waves with its digital media marketing efforts ever since it set up the popular Uwishunu tourism blog in 2007. Here are just a few of the ways that Visit Philadelphia is currently using social media for destination marketing.
#1: Creating cross-platform experiences
In the best of all worlds, destination marketers should provide different types of experiences across all social platforms so that there’s a reason to follow on each of them. In short, if you’re posting the same content on Facebook as you are on Twitter, where’s the incentive to follow you on both?
As a result, Visit Philadelphia often creates cross-platform experiences for major events, where a single major event looks slightly different on each platform. One example of this was the recent NASCAR event in Philadelphia, which combined different photo and video experiences across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat– including a live interview with NASCAR driver Brennan Poole – to give a comprehensive view of the event.
#2: Embrace video in all of its different forms
There are plenty of different ways of creating video these days, and so marketers are constantly looking for ways to up their game and stand out from the crowd. Here, Visit Philadelphia combines a variety of different video formats – horizontal video, rectangular video, hyperlapsed video, live video – to keep the video content across its social media platforms fresh and relevant.
That’s great advice!! If you’re marketing a city, you don’t want to just produce a slick two-minute sizzle reel that doesn’t resonate with potential tourists. You want content that’s authentic and reflective of what’s really happening in the city at any time. Visit Philadelphia likes to think that it’s more then just views- its the engagement. When a fan or follower can ask a question about an event in real time and get a answer from an expert, that’s powerful.
#3: Nurture a real community of fans and followers
Visit Philadelphia is able to leverage all of the talented people who already live in the city –and love the city – to help give their perspective on why people should visit Philadelphia. One way of connecting that community is via hashtag #visitphilly, which enable social media marketers to track down people having conversations about their content.
Here’s just one example: Visit Philly wanted to cover a big weekend run in the city (the Broad Street Run) and decided to use a photo from a Philadelphia native who took some great shots from the event. Using the hashtag #VisitPhilly, the tourism marketing agency was able to reach out to an Instagram user who had posted an epic shot of the race, get her permission, and then re-post that popular Instagram photo on Twitter.
#4: Experiment with new technologies
The latest experiment from Visit Philadelphia is something called “Explore Philadelphia in VR.” The tourism marketing agency worked with a VR production company to create a three-minute, 360-degree photography experiences of famous Philly landmarks. In addition, all of this content is available as a VR experience that’s really an immersive tour of the city. The idea, of course, is that people will be so blown away by what Philadelphia has to offer in the virtual world that they will be inspired to visit Philly in the real world.
And that ultimately is how any destination marketing initiative has to be measured – not by the number of social media followers, but by the number of visitors. If you check out some of the press releases about Visit Philadelphia, for example, there’s always mention of hotel occupancy rates. If hotels are full, that’s a great way of knowing that your social media strategy is actually working.