Mobile navigation


Guardian uses social media for VisitEngland campaign

The Guardian recently launched a social media element as part of the VisitEngland brand partnership campaign. Tom Quick, of social media specialists, Smesh, outlines the strategy behind the campaign.

By Tom Quick

Smesh have been using their in-house monitoring and analysis tools plus their human expertise and experience to help the Guardian (GNM) run the social media aspects of their campaign for VisitEngland.

At Smesh, we believe that it's really important to deliver a blend of focused consultancy and tool-based analytics. Just providing raw access to tools can leave clients swamped in data; relating this data back to campaign goals and quickly feeding back into campaign activity is essential for making the most of the interactive and real-time nature of social media.

An important starting point for the GNM campaign work was agreeing well-defined goals. In this instance, it was around encouraging people to contribute content to the campaign's centrepiece interactive map. This covers two essential initial ingredients of a successful social media campaign: something of value to build activity around, and success metrics that are in tune with the strengths of social media.

Social media is a mode of human communication. It's a conduit that clearly offers lots of potential for marketeers, combining aspects of broadcast (something you tweet can be seen by all the people who follow you) with interactivity (you can engage in dialogue with individuals or groups). However, having a fantastic channel isn't much use if you don't have anything of value to communicate: content of interest to your target market. In the case of the GNM campaign, the core of this content is the interactive map, appealing both as an information resource and as an opportunity for people to share and promote local information.

What constitutes appropriate success metrics for social media activity needs to be tuned to a specific campaign, based on its particular aims (eg. a focus on driving online traffic or sales, or building overall positive brand awareness). Similarly, goals have to be sensitive to the nature of social media content. The GNM and VisitEngland teams recognised that looking for online mentions of campaign search terms like 'England city breaks' wasn't appropriate, because people don't phrase reports of their own activities and interests in the same way that they do when asking Google for information.

If you're going to communicate with people, you really need a well defined idea of who you're going to be communicating with: their online behaviours, likes and dislikes, and so on.

Having worked with GNM and VisitEngland to build a full understanding of the campaign's overall identity and to define social media goals, the Smesh team set about mapping the social media landscape for the campaign. This involved a range of activities, from identifying broad themes ('what sort of thing are people tweeting about on activities in Brighton this month?'), to identifying and engaging with specific individuals producing high-quality local blog content. Importantly, this activity is still maintained as an integral part of the campaign.

This information is fed back rapidly into ongoing campaign activity: social media monitoring and analysis must be treated as an active 'live' resource to get the most out of it. Knowledge about topics of interest, upcoming events and influential online voices support the production of content with a view to encouraging visits and contributions to the campaign's interactive map, and to building followers.

A range of metrics continue to play an important supporting role, feeding into campaign activity. These include:

• Changes in volume of chatter on specific topics across platforms (blogs and social networks)

• Monitoring campaign reach — how many pairs of eyeballs has campaign content potentially be seen by?

• Tracking changes in follower numbers over time, factoring in influence 

These are just some of the activities that have contributed to this campaign, but they represent core common needs that if addressed can help produce success: create well-defined goals and metrics that fit with social media's strengths, thinking about what's in it for the people you want to engage with, recognising the needs that are unique for each campaign and using monitoring and analytics for continual campaign feedback and improvement.