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Travelers find and share destinations and things to do by word-of-mouth. And apparently so do tourism boards.
Since 1997, Visit Philly has grown its online presence from one to multiple sites in order to attract visitors with things to see and places to stay. Currently, there are five separate sites besides Visit Philly’s main page that are part of the city’s tourism umbrella: uwishunu.com (short for you wish you knew), Philly 360, Philly Te Ama, and Visit Gay Philly, along and With Art Philadelphia.
Skift recently talked to Rachel Hara, Social Media Manager at Visit Philly about how their team creates, publish, and distribute content across all their digital properties. An edited version of the interview follows:
Skift: There are many sites under Visit Philly’s umbrella that focuses on visitors based on their interest and demographic. How is your content team organized?
Rachel Hara: We have Caroline Bean as our Director of Social Media. Myself, as the social media manager, and we have Chelsea Calhoun as our media assistant. She bridges our social media and our media communications team, under the communications umbrella.
We’re a small team that’s technically under a social media title, but we have a lot of people working on our smaller or niche social media accounts. For instance, we have our Visit Philly social media account, but also our blog uwishunu has a Twitter account. A separate team monitors the blog and social and posts to uwishunu. We have a couple of properties for Philly360, as well as for PhillyTeAma, which is our Hispanic marketing campaign.
We have people under different umbrellas managing other accounts. Carolyn and I are the go-to-people if there are any questions. We’re tasked with making sure that everything gets distributed appropriately on all our channels, if anyone has any questions, any new social media updates that come out like best practices that everybody should be aware of.
Skift: How does your core team keep all the content support teams up-to-date?
Hara: We have monthly social media reporting meetings, where we pull together stats from all of our social media networks, which are a lot. As well as break it down into top posts, top tweets, things like that. That’s a really great hour-long time where people from all different departments who manage some aspect of or social media get to come in, ask any questions they might have. This is the time where we can also help them make recommendations.
Skift: What do the data folks who join bring to the rest of the attendees?
Hara: About 25 people are invited each month that ranges from people who manage the social accounts, people who work on our research team and help us with those numbers and figures throughout the year, and help us monitor how quickly we’re growing. If there are any big goals we’re trying to reach, they help with that.
Normally during our meetings, we look at a lot of stats from month over month. We have a couple slides in our reporting that are our fans and follower growth month over month. We usually have a handful of months before that too so we can see the progression of the growth. Then we also work with the web team closely, to find out in terms of social media traffic — from our social sites to either VisitPhilly.com or uwishunu.com — how that’s growing. We ask ourselves, should we be posting more from Visit Philly or from uswishunu, and how to balance that content and make sure we’re increasing visits every month.
Skift: What data findings have you found and how are you using this data to create new content?
Hara: Facebook and Twitter are our biggest drivers. Instagram is our fastest growing social network, as of late, but we don’t really use it as a traffic driver, we use it more for engagement. We do put different links in our Instagram profile here and there, but that is an account that was at fourteen-thousand followers a year ago and we’re up to about forty-seven thousand now. It’s really growing quickly.
We had our couple of our big Adirondack chairs down by the waterfront last summer with our hashtag and our “With Love” branding on it and we found that people really do connect and understand what it is. They really love those chairs and snapped tons of photos last year.
This year we bumped that up even more with #VisitPhilly Photo Spots — running from June to September — by adding more places with our branding for people to take photos at and share on social.
Skift: What systems are in place to help you streamline the distribution of editorial content?
Hara: We actually don’t have a vendor. We do use some reporting tools for our monthly reports, in terms of seeing top posts across all social media. For the most part, at least for me, my day to day is managing the Visit Philly Facebook page, the Visit Gay Philly Facebook page, as well as co-managing with Carolyn and Chelsea, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and all of our other social channels.
I have my own calendars and I work really closely with our web team and our uwishunu team to find what the top content is coming up per month or even per week since we have so many breaking new accolades that do really well on social. We work really closely together to find the best content and re-purpose it for social media.
Skift: How did your team prepare to break the story about the victory of same-sex marriage in the U.S. that took place last week on all your social channels?
Hara: Back in April/May, we received word that the gay marriage ruling would be on or around June 28, 2015. A meeting was called, which included members of our creative services, content, public relations and social media teams to brainstorm ideas for a graphic and/or video to distribute on social media and on our website and press emails – of course we were hoping that the Supreme Court would rule in favor and planning for the positive outcome. We worked with our visual assets team to create a video as well as with our creative services team to create a graphic, with an awesome line crafted by Linda Huss from our content team.
Once we got word of the ruling on the morning of June 26, the graphic and video were published on all of our Visit Philly social media channels ASAP. We then emailed out the links to all of the posts to the entire company for reference/to share with their personal networks, and sent the graphic and video to our web team so that they could use the content on visitphilly.com and our blog uwishunu.com. We also always make sure to distribute “breaking news” social links and assets to additional members of the company who work on our program-specific social sites (i.e. Philly 360, Philly Te Ama) so that they have examples of copy for reference and can spread the word as well.