The Tourism Manager of The Regional Municipality of Durham was in a bind. It was 2008 and an economic downturn announcement had stopped commerce dead. Kerri King pitched Roger Anderson on allowing her to launch a pilot social media campaign to sell out an Economic Development Summit featuring Dr. Richard Florida in six weeks. So, she turned to the leading social media professional in Durham Region for help. That social media professional was me and two months later, the Region’s pilot social media project — The Art of Transition –had a website, social media spaces, and followers who purchased tickets to this one-day Summit which sold out with two weeks to spare.
The Art of Transition initiative aimed to invite innovative thinkers from every facet of the economy to connect, brainstorm new ideas, foster partnerships, and welcome new opportunities for transitioning Durham Region into a new, creative economy.The creative power and ever-expanding capabilities of social media exactly captured the Art of Transition’s vision for an interactive, multi-media community space.
The key objectives of the social media campaign were:
- Create awareness (build brand/reputation)
- Sell out culminating launch event
- Connect a diverse database of local innovators in a multi-media, multi-industry forum
- Drive traffic to both Art of Transition’s website and the larger Durham Region persona
The goal was to create an accessible, interactive and engaging online space for Durham innovators, while sharing their achievements with the greater community throughout both social and print media.
STRATEGIES & SOLUTIONS
AWEBthatWORKS envisioned an engagement-centric, integration-minded website, featuring a blog and multiple prominent social media options, including a variety of platforms as well as buttons, subscribe boxes, newsfeeds and other interactive features. All social media presences featured existing brand graphics from partner designer.
The blog itself – on which stakeholders received well-rounded training – featured media sharing capabilities and the ability for community authorship. Understanding Art of Transition’s desire to share the wealth of its local innovators, we installed a tool that allowed the public to post to the blog via email, leaving editorial control in the hands of organizers.
In addition, AWEBthatWORKS activated and optimized a battery of social media personae, including a Facebook Page, Twitter account, Flickr channel, shared YouTube channel, and LinkedIn Group, all of which received a high number of hits and followers.
Launching a social media campaign that brought hundreds of engaged users to social profiles and thousands to Durham websites, the Art of Transition enterprise was a resounding success, as demonstrated by the completed objectives:
- Successful sold-out event: Despite the announcement of a recession, the Art of Transition event sold out within 5 weeks of the campaign’s launch.
- Creation of community gathering places and engagement: AWEBthatWORKS created a searchable directory of local stakeholders to build the community and contribute content. Hundreds of creative thinkers joined the new social media community, announcing their presence with rising Facebook fans and Likes, Twitter follows and retweets, blog posts and other social media engagement.
Among other social media profiles was the open Facebook group “Creative People in Durham Region,” which continues to provide an active and organic forum for the artistic community of Durham. This non-branded group also provides a captive audience for client news distribution.
In addition, AWEBthatWORKS – with a talented design partner – merged print media with digital through the award-winning zine Transitions, which showcased local innovators from across the economy.
- Increased traffic to Durham Region websites: The new social media spaces were responsible for directing more traffic to the websites than the Region’s previous traditional communication vehicles, including email and print ads.
- Another community-driven feature is the blog, which showcases local artistic events and achievements. To facilitate the easy engagement features requested by our client, we programmed the blog to allow posts from community members – in addition to client – with minimal investment of ongoing management.
- Creation of stable, client-controlled platform of social media spaces: AWEBthatWORKS provided social media training to key stakeholders, enabling them to manage both blog and other social media platforms independently on an ongoing basis. AWEBthatWORKS maintained a relationship, organizing dedicated social media teams to promote specific events or campaigns when required
The Art of Transition campaign also claimed several industry awards:
- First place in the “Events” category at for the Art of Transition Symposium at the 2010 Economic Developers Association of Canada (EDAC) Marketing Awards
- First place in the “Industry Communiqué” category at the Ontario Economic Development Marketing Awards, presented by the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO)
- Honourable Mentions in the “Business Development-Marketing Utilizing Technology” and “Social Media” categories at the Ontario Economic Development Marketing Awards (EDCO)
The Regional Municipality of Durham Region was so impressed by the success of their pilot digital marketing campaign, they asked Sue to say a few words about it at the Summit.