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With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, Santa Barbara is a popular destination for visitors looking for a warm weather escape. To drive awareness and increase visitation during the destination’s November through March shoulder season, Visit Santa Barbara targeted travelers in cooler-weather cities with the “Brighten Your Day” social media campaign.
This personalized, strategic approach earned Visit Santa Barbara a 2016 Poppy Award for Best Social Media Campaign. Initially geared toward Seattle residents, the campaign included real-time giveaways of Santa Barbara-themed gifts to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook users in Seattle who utilized the custom#BrightenYourDay hashtag. To generate more buzz, Visit Santa Barbara expanded the campaign to Portland, Denver and Chicago, giving cold-weather dwellers a chance to win a Santa Barbara getaway.
“We surprised users with something that related to their entry and was Santa Barbara-centric,” said JessyLynn Perkins, Digital Marketing Manager at Visit Santa Barbara. “One woman said palm trees brightened her day, so we shipped an actual palm tree to her. The whole campaign was about bringing the warmth of Santa Barbara to people in cold-weather markets to truly brighten their day.”
By making an emotional connection with users, Visit Santa Barbara’s campaign was more than just a giveaway – the gifts were seen as meaningful acts of kindness. It also helped keep Santa Barbara top of mind for travelers considering a vacation destination. The campaign, produced in partnership with the agency Sparkloft Media, reached 7.1 million users and received more than 1,200 competition entries, with a total of 36,222 engagements.
SOCIAL MEDIA BEST PRACTICES
Visit Santa Barbara’s social media efforts consistently drive awareness to the destination, highlighting local activities and attractions while also providing shareable content for users to show their love of Santa Barbara with friends and family, Perkins said.
“We have a very specific objectives-driven social strategy to which we base our performance measurement and success,” Perkins said. “Combining rich content, advertising, influencers and campaigns, we reach specific audiences based on our goals.”
When it comes to social media best practices, Perkins also stresses the importance of authenticity.
“Fans are your biggest advocates and best source for creating content,” she said. “Every social strategy should begin with the desire to give fans the content they crave. Allowing fans to have a hand in creating our content provides our audience with the chance to be a part of the story and build brand ambassadors.”
Additional social media must-dos include: always sourcing your images and providing proper credit, tailoring posts to the appropriate platform and posting with a purpose that meets your goals (quality vs. quantity).
In the coming months, Visit Santa Barbara will continue its out-of-market push. With the newly relaunched American Airlines non-stop flight service from Dallas to Santa Barbara, the Visit Santa Barbara team is hitting the streets of Dallas to activate a social media campaign in conjunction with the announcement.
Santa Barbara Municipal Airport ended direct service to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport in 2009. The restored service to DFW is expected to provide an increased economic impact to the area, which has experienced a decline in air travel in recent years.
The DMO also has plans to become more active in live-streaming messaging apps, providing real-time interactions with the destination.
“There is no place like Santa Barbara, and we strive for our marketing programs to embody the attitude, look and feel of our destination,” Perkins said.
Destinations can look forward to visiting Santa Barbara when the city hosts the 2017 Outlook Forum Feb. 27-March 1. Register online today.