On September 19th, Lee and Coralie headlined the Ashford Kent Digital Meetup at the Taproom and shared their insights on how to create a community using social media with 20 other digital aficionados.
They focused on of our latest social media projects: #HelloHerneBay, an integrated campaign which aims to put the coastal gem on the tourism map.
Whether you were present or – how good was the pizza?! – here are the key takeaways from the talk. To download the slides, it’s this way.
1. Find out who you’re talking to
The objectives for our #HelloHerneBay campaign were crystal clear from the start:
- create awareness,
- build interest and desire for people to discover the town,
- visit the coastal town.
To do so, the first step we took was to find out who our target audiences were. We identified personas, such as nature lovers, culture vultures, families and foodies, and looked into how we could reach out to them. When and where are they available to think about a weekend getaway?
2. Create relevant content on your platform of choice
Now you know who you’re talking and picked the ideal platforms to promote your message, the fun part starts! It’s time to create content that will intrigue your audience and make them engage with your campaign.
Bringing the campaign offline allowed us to reinforce the message and make sure we caught our target audiences whenever they were available to think about weekend activities, e.g. when they’re reading a magazine or when they’re following a bus on their way to/from work.
3. Start a conversation
We created bespoke content for our social channels, using inspiring photographs and videos, focused on some lesser-known facts and activities available around the town to attract people. Thanks to these original messages, people engaged with the content through likes, shares and comments. They also shared their own pictures with us using #HelloHerneBay. But, creating content is only half the job. The rest comes down to making sure you engage with your community as well. We thanked them for visiting Herne Bay and sharing their pictures, we answered their questions and shared their content. We used our social media channels to create a two-way conversation and this helped us make people feel part of this community.
4. User-generated content is key
We’ve mentioned this before: when people engaged with our campaign, they shared feedback, pictures, … and we used this to your advantage. By sharing/retweeting their content, we increased their sense of belonging in the campaign, and created a sense of ownership. Plus, it’s a cost-effective way to fill up your content grid!
We also interacted with the local community to find their events and offers. This way, we also used local news as content and used the campaign as a way to promote local cafes, shops and businesses (Discover more about this below).
5. Sponsor where necessary
We didn’t only rely on organic content to promote our content, we used sponsored posts on social media to push very specific content and make sure we reached out to a bigger audience thanks to Facebook and Twitter’s advertising tools. This allowed us to grow our audiences on a limited budget.
We also used advertising (bus and radio adverts) and sponsored content in magazines to promote Herne Bay as a destination. We picked niche magazines, to reach out to key audiences without going over budget, and used cost-effective advertising features (radio and bus adverts when our audiences where ready to hear our messages). This also reinforced the campaign: people seeing or hearing the adverts would then visit our social media pages, and people following us on social media would then see/hear the ads, making sure they kept Herne Bay on their mind.
6. Engage with people in real life
We mentioned local cafes, businesses and shop above. Well, in order to make them feel part of the campaign, we went down to meet them and present the aims of #HelloHerneBay to them. By sharing our goals, our local stakeholders bought into the campaign and helped us promote it. They took ownership of the campaign, provided us great content to use and shared it with their own networks.
By taking the time to know each stakeholder and interact with them, we strengthened the campaign and ensured people who help us spread the message with their own audiences.
Blending social media with traditional marketing strategies, we were able to create a strong message, which people took ownership of. We have grown the Herne Bay community (online) by 212%, and created a sustainable community of local residents, business owners and tourists which all feed into the content strategy. This advocacy is an added benefit to the campaign and really shows how interacting with people, not only promoting your content, creates a sense of belonging amongst your followers.
Following the presentation, Lee, Coralie and Miranda answered some very interesting questions from the audience, including measuring ROI and integrating new social channels to the campaign.
Need some help creating your own online community? Get in touch today to see how we can help you!