Clare Valley Tourism
Winter 2021 Digital Marketing Activation
Social Media Community Management + Content Creation
Destination marketing organisation for the Clare Valley Tourism Region, Regional Development Australia Yorke and Mid North, engaged Tourism eSchool to plan and implement a strategic destination marketing activation to drive awareness and visitation to the Clare Valley Tourism Region for 2021 Winter season.
The activation had a short-term intense content driven focus on leveraging existing imagery and curating and publishing new blog articles along with manage their social communities.
Through this activation the Region benefited long term though increased digital content and visibility of tourism experiences in the region, and up to date education on implementation best practice for the Region’s social and website storytelling resources.
From the get-go Paige and Rebecca had such a good understanding of our region and what we were wanting to achieve.
Having worked with Tourism eSchool on developing the Clare Valley Destination Marketing + Management Plan 2019 – 2024, it was a simple decision to engage them to plan and implement the marketing activation for Winter 2021. The results spoke for themselves with measured increase in brand awareness, website and social media engagement and conversions to operator websites and social accounts. An added bonus was the training received by our internal staff at the end of the activation. This assists us in maintaining the great results achieved by Tourism eSchool. Paige, Rebecca and Lachlan were very easy to work with. Their preparation for the activation was extensive, reporting was regular and the final report was delivered on time. I would have no hesitation in engaging their services again.
Social Media Community Management
Stage 1 - Social Audience Analysis & Visitor Journey Mapping
To ensure strategic and focussed implementation we first ensured alignment of all content creation and targeting fell in line with the region’s high-value visitor personas, as outlined in our previous work on the Clare Valley Tourism Region (CVTR) Destination Management and Marketing Plan 2019-2024.
It was essential to understand who the region was trying to attract and convert, particularly over winter, and gain deeper understanding on the people who stay the longest, disperse around the region, spend the most, love the experience of the destination (including the towns, natural attractions and tourism businesses) and become strong word of mouth advocates or repeat visitors.
From here, we also analysed the region’s current social media audience – their age and location, when they’re generally online and the types of content they engage with the most. This provided a good picture of who we were targeting, and the triggers needed to catch their attention in a busy and cluttered social media environment.
Stage 2 - Metrics & Measurement
Our second step was to establish some baseline metrics and a measurement framework, using both Iconosquare and Facebook Business Manager as key sources for insights and forward planning on CVTR’s Facebook and Instagram.
Analysing the CVTR social media channels’ and results from previous months was critical to benchmarking future performance, so baseline metrics were taken retrospectively around community growth, engagement and reach, in addition to the all-important website traffic data (including outbound leads to operators) on Google Analytics (see below).
By setting the bar from the beginning, this provided a solid platform to track the effectiveness of social media efforts for not only the short term, but also to provide to CVTR with a robust reporting tool that they could use well into the future. As such, a comprehensive reporting template was designed to cumulatively capture and input key data moving forward.
Stage 3 - Content Audit & Curation
Following our research around key Winter content themes, we took a deep-dive to source fresh, high-quality, seasonally relevant visuals for use across the channels. This was critical to ensure we had an established library of amazing material to draw and build upon from the very beginning.
To do this, we ‘mined’ for user-generated content on Instagram, searching through a labyrinth hash tags, geo-tags and account tags functions to ensure our content left no stone un-turned.
First, we targeted any content shared with either of CVTR’s two official hashtags (encompassing both Clare Valley and Burra), plus material their account had been physically tagged in. We then utilised geo-tags to find additional content users had shared at key locations around the region.
Research was also put into other non-official (but highly relevant) hashtags that people otherwise used when posting, enabling us to fill more gaps, as required.
Approaches were then made to well-known local influencers and professional content creators, helping us build productive relationships with a talented group of artists that we could activate and encourage to contribute from time to time.
Throughout the process, sharing permission was sought from all creators before images were optimised for social (right size, right medium, with/without enhancements) and banked away in the library, kicking things off with a base library of around 150+ photos and videos to ensure the channels received immediate traction.
Stage 4 - Social Channel Management & Reporting
Having curated a swathe of seasonal visuals, it was time to start posting on CVTR’s socials.
A final briefing and kick-off meeting was set up with their team to ensure we were across the very latest intel on operators, upcoming events and promotions, along with any hyper-specific messaging needing to be communicated initially. This was particularly important given the region’s largest annual event (Clare Valley SCA Gourmet Week) was taking place in the initial stages.
Close, regular dialogue was then maintained throughout the period to ensure communications stayed responsive to CVTR’s ever-changing needs, and keep in-synch with any additional messaging being distributed via other channels, including CVTR’s weekly consumer e-newsletters.
From commencement, the key elements of channel management included a minimum of five organic newsfeed posts per week on both Facebook and Instagram, with daily Instagram Stories (including operator resharing and dedicated features) and full daily community management.
Each and every post was carefully captioned and optimised to ensure it was fully tailored for sharing on the relevant channel. In doing so, posts achieved maximum reach, engagement and web traffic, with community interactions and messages being addressed as they arose.
The content schedule was 100% reflective of seasonality, ensuring the audience saw the best of late autumn and winter in Clare Valley, helping to inspire and drive interest in booking a mid-year escape. In doing this, daily weather fluctuations also saw content adapted to better capture and harness community sentiment ‘in the moment’, capitalising on the mood on any given day.
It’s important to note that as six new website articles were simultaneously being written (refer to Content Creation section below), social channels published relevant and highly impactful visual leads that drove users back to the website to learn more.
What our Storytelling Looked Like...
Over the course of the next two months, storytelling reflected every aspect of a late autumn and winter holiday to Clare Valley, combining powerful imagery with creative captions that inspired users to dream, plan, book and stay longer.
Encouraging visitor dispersal was also at the heart of the strategy, with the lesser-known Burra and Goyder sub-regions also being spotlighted to raise awareness of the diverse range of experiences on offer.
- Late autumn brought a kaleidoscope of colour as we settled into cosy nooks.
- Burra’s icons illuminated at sunset as the Pink Lake went prehistoric.
- Cyclists hit the Riesling Trail as road trippers found the path less travelled.
- Clare Valley SCA Gourmet Week made a splash as visitors unlocked local history.
- Crisp country mornings heralded the start of Winter.
- Vines lay bare and beautiful as cellar doors stoked their fireplaces.
- Storms swept through pastures as silo artists brightened the mood.
- Dusk danced across the outback as locals flocked to Point Pass.
- Red wine flowed and hearty food warmed our souls.
- Campfires crackled as we drove right into a dream.
- The kids got lost in school holidays as Watervale became a watercolour.
Our extensive preparation produced immediate results, with all key social media and website metrics rising significantly. As the channels built momentum, and visitors travelled to the region, we continued sourcing fresh new user-generated material on a daily basis, which was then optimised and shared as part of the mix.
Large local and national influencers also frequently shared content with their audiences, extending the content/region’s reach to valuable new audiences of millions.
A comprehensive monthly Social Media Report was delivered to CVTR for both May and June, addressing all key results areas in line with earlier planning and benchmarking. This data was also later rolled into a final project report on our conclusion.
Stage 5 - Staff Training & Follow Up
In the last week of our tenure on the social accounts, a training session was held with CVTR’s social media staff as well as other key personnel from Regional Development Australia Yorke & Mid North (encompassing the wider Clare Valley and Southern Flinders Ranges) before they officially took back took control of the accounts.
The training covered key aspects of best practice social media community management, including (but not limited to):
- How to build a social media library – source content and seek user permission, download and optimise user generated content.
- Key relationship building tips to maximise potential of local business, content creators and influencers
- How to schedule and optimised posts in Facebook Creator Studio and Iconosquare
- How to write engaging captions for better storytelling
- How to optimise posts for amplification through influencer channels.
- Community management 101
- Understanding key metrics on Facebook and Instagram and their alignment to the marketing strategy
- Where and how to measure and develop the monthly Social Media Report using Facebook Insights, Iconosquare, Google Analytics and Desktop Qualitative Metrics.
- Provision of additional tips for optimisation, increased engagement, reach and web traffic.
The training session was recorded, saved and sent for staff reference, along with the entire backlog of visual content (images and videos) that had been sourced and optimised for future social media use. With such an extensive library, many of these images are still being used today and will be a fantastic resource for future winter promotional activities.
Website Marketing + Storytelling
An equally important part of the project was to optimise the website with some key content that would support the activation, but optimising current relevant content, and identifying gaps in content based on the region's visitor personas.
Step 1: Website Audit
To do this, we first audited the content on clarevalley.com.au using the following qualifying parameters:
- Winter content needs (based on the Region's Visitor Personas)
- Gaps in required content for Visitor Personas across their travel journey
- Gaps in key experience content that will drive demand in Winter
- Engagement levels of current content that supports the Visitor Personas motivations, challenges and needs for planning a trip to the region in Winter.
Upon auditing the website, a report was presented to the Project team highlighting:
- Current Content that required optimising
- Content that required to be developed new
Step 2: Content Creation
From there, the following 6 articles were identified for optimisation/new development, including the sourcing and approval of imagery.
As you can see, significant planning and research was undertaken to curate and write these stories, which are extremely in-depth.
As part of the process, we also sourced and approved all of the images for use on the articles (which was made easy through the relationships built with creatives via our Social Media Management work).
Step 3: Increase Reach + Engagement
To extend the reach of these articles, they were optimised for key search queries for visibility in search engine results, and used as social media content throughout the campaign period.
To improve the visibility and engagement of the new article content for users on the website, we also optimised key webpages, namely the complete update and optimisation of the page template for the Explore Page to have a seasonal focus (highlighting key articles, events and inspirational information.
4: Focus on Conversions
To measure the impact of the content as genuine demand drivers for winter travel to the region, we ensured that where relevant, we linked content to tourism operator websites (rather than their ATDW listing on the site) so that the user could easily make the next move (hopefully booking direct!) in their planning journey.
We also ensured the website's Google Analytics platform had the right user tracking mechanisms in place to record how many times a user clicked on the operator websites, which could then be used as a reportable KPI for industry.
Social Media Community Management
Grew community, amplification, engagement and reach metrics over the 2 months period (10 May – 2 July 2021), with key achievements including:
- Nurtured the Facebook community, increasing the size by 10% and Instagram by 5% (growth of over 50% on previous months).
- Improved reach (number of people seeing posts) on Facebook by nearly 200% in first month of
- Comments up 1,317% and Likes up over 342% for May.
- On Instagram, 4 of the top 10 Posts of all time for Likes, 5 of the top 10 posts for impressions and 2nd top post for Comments of all time on Instagram.
- On Facebook, 4 of the top 10 posts for “Love” reactions and 4th top video posts for views of all time.
- Across both Facebook and Instagram, posts reached near 320,000 people, up 154% for Facebook and
204% for Instagram compared to the previous 2 months.
- Posts were picked up and reshared (amplified) by SATC, ABC Adelaide, Glam Adelaide, Adelady and Mix Adelaide, which had combined community sizes of over 2.4 million people.
Website Marketing + Storytelling
- All Articles featured in the top 10 articles for Average Session Duration
- 3 Articles were among the top 10 news articles for Unique Page Views
- The two articles that were optimised saw increased performance / engagement in major engagement
- The articles that we published/optimised referred 1,924 website users to tourism operator websites, or sites that offered detailed information (from June-October 2021).
- All Articles featured in the top 10 articles for Outbound Link Clicks
This has been an unusually busy time for us, so not having to worry about blogging and keeping active on social provided an opportunity to take a breath and focus on other tasks. The communication from the team throughout was exceptional, we could trust them to consistently deliver quality content to our ideal visitors and keep us informed of their activities via emails and detailed monthly reports.