Tag Archives: Social Media Marketing

7 Effective Ways to Get Your Visitors to Share More Photos

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “Sharing is caring.”

But in the world of destination marketing, sharing is currency.

When your visitors share the photos they’ve taken, they’re putting the authentic experiences they’ve had with your brand out into the world. You gain social proof, engagement with your brand, and more sources of inspiration to entice new potential visitors.

Content your customers create for you is also one of the most powerful forms of promotion out there.

So if you want to get seen and heard in your niche, you want to encourage your visitors to share more photos.

Here are 7 ways you can do just that: 

1 | Create a dedicated hashtag for photos and use it to post to your own channels regularly

The first thing you want to do is make sure you’ve got a hashtag people know they can use when posting photos! So put it in your Twitter and Instagram bio, and share your own photos with it too.

Show the social community that you’re active (and love showcasing beautiful photos!).

Buffer recommends posting once a day on Instagram for brands.

Too busy to take a new photo each day? Well, your visitors aren’t!

Take advantage of the photos they’re already sharing, and, if they give permission, repost them. And this is where your hashtag can come in handy:


2 | Engage with people who are posting about you

What’s the difference between talking to a) a human vs. b) a pet rock?

Well for starters, a human responds and reacts to what you say. A human is fun to talk to. You’re more likely to keep talking to a human.

It’s simple: the more you engage with people that are talking about you, the more people are going to talk to you.

Whether it’s an Insta photo or a tweet you’re mentioned in, shoot a quick like or comment, and keep the conversation around your brand going!

Because it can seem daunting to reply to every single mention or interaction, Tourism Toronto actually uses CrowdRiff to help do this at scale.


Your active engagement shows that you’re listening, and that encourages people to keep sharing more.

3 | Get a boost from influencers

Influencers have the ability to reach different followers from you. Working with them expands your reach and visibility.

But how can they help you get more user-generated content?

Hashtags and locations that influencers share photos of get a lot of visibility, so the more influencers invested in your location or destination, the more prominent you can become.

So once you identify influencers you want to work with, here are some things you can consider doing:

  • Ask them to share a photo with your hashtag at a landmark or business you want to promote
  • Invite them to do a social media takeover (Destination BC hosts some amazing ones on their Instagram!)
  • Invite them to a special promotional event (maybe that’s a food/coffee crawl, a preview of an exhibit, etc.) 

The Guggenheim Museum in New York City has developed a masterful strategy for that last idea.

When a new exhibit is about to launch, the museum organizes meetups of social influencers and members for a preview. Only 20 people are allowed, and they’re given free reign of the halls to snap photos  that will be seen by millions, and generate excitement to entice new visitors to come explore the exhibit for themselves.

4 | Reward people for using your official hashtag and posting photos

Now this doesn’t (neccessarily) mean sending a prize to each person who shares about you.

Something as simple as a “Thanks for sharing!” or “Nice pic!” that you leave on their photo will do the trick.

This shows that you’re engaged with the community, and encourages people to keep sharing what you’re offering.

Another way to reward users is to re-share their photos and posts, with permission, to give them some extra visibility. Hosting a gallery on your website to feature your favorite visitor photos on your site is one of our favorite ways to recognize and showcase these images. 


This kind of engagement shows that you value what people are sharing. And that’s great encouragement to keep sharing more photos.

5 | Start a Photo of the Day/Week social campaign

Once a day (or week) choose one great visitor photo you want to highlight, and share it! It’s an easy way to both promote your destination, and incentivize people to share great photos. 

Visit Houston does an excellent job of encouraging visitor photos by sharing a #PhotoofTheDay with their 64,000 followers on Twitter.

Not only does this encourage tourists, locals, and prospective visitors to post beautiful images of the city, it gives great local photographers a reason to really strive to capture Houston in its best light.

Top tip: If you’re reposting a photo, ask for permission in advance, and remember to give photo creds!

6 | Ask great questions to solicit photos

Sometimes all it takes is a little prompting to get that photo activity rolling.

You can tweet something as simple as, “What’s your go-to spot at [your destination]? Show us your photos and tag us with #hashtag!”

The Wellcome Collection, a museum in London, goes one step further by inviting its visitors to share their thoughts on the permanent Wellcome Medicine Man exhibit on social media, with the prompt “This makes me feel…” and the hashtag #MuseumFeels.

Museum staff then print out their favorite responses from Instagram, and display them on clipboards inside the exhibit.

It gives visitors both the inspiration and incentive to share meaningful photos of their experience with the museum. 

7 | Create photo-ready spots

Nothing prompts people to snap an Insta pic faster than a dedicated photo-op spot with a hashtag.

The beautiful Distillery District in Toronto has quite a few popular sites that people love taking photos at — like in front of their iconic LOVE installation.

Loved when @rocketman3_ was here to pose for my photos! ? #seetorontonow

A post shared by Shri (@shridevij) on

Taking advantage of this, Glade created a similar sign, saying JOY, and strategically placed the punny hashtag #feelglade in front of it.

The result? Thousands of photos about Glade shared to Instagram.

Think about creating a dedicated photo sharing spot the next time you host an event or festival. And in many cases, you could even consider a permanent hashtag sign to an already popular photo-spot.

Now it’s your turn

Asking your visitors to take and share photos doesn’t have to be a game of cat and mouse.

Take these easy tips and watch as your visitors get excited to share more photos.

Happy sharing!

*Updated post. Originally published Oct 26, 2015

Augmented Reality Meets Social Media At The ROM

The Royal Ontario Museum’s (ROM) most popular selfie spot is its 65 million year old Tyrannosaurus Rex. To provide a more enriching experience for its visitors, the ROM has decided to make the T. rex come alive using augmented reality.

Trex at the ROM Augmented Reality

The ROM constantly seeks opportunities to increase visitor engagement. In an effort to go above and beyond the average social media campaign, the museum has incorporated the use of augmented reality into its newest initiative.

In an institution where living, breathing exhibits are limited, the ROM has utilized the use of video and computer graphics to bring the ancient and mystifying fossilized T. rex to life. The result is a terrifyingly realistic opportunity to go head-to-head with one of the world’s most dangerous predators, and more importantly, an engaging social strategy.

Augmented Reality Makes the ROM More Social

Guests are immediately invited to try the experience upon entering the second-floor exhibit. A monitor, powered by KioskPro, displaying all past encounters with the augmented version of the ROM’s popular T. rex challenges new visitors to try the experience out for themselves.

Trex comes alive at the ROM

Visitors are prompted towards two iPads, which serve as the platform for the experience. The iPads display the fossilized T. rex on screen in real time through its camera. After hitting the start button, a superimposed version of the vicious dinosaur suddenly appears on the screen.

The user is also encouraged to explore interesting facts about the late Cretaceous period carnivore; everything from its diet to how on earth it was able to use its small arms is addressed in a series of pop-up bubbles that appear around the body part in question. Once the user has had his/or her fill of dino facts they are prompted to stand in front of the iPad’s camera to pose with the T. rex (a floor marker has been strategically placed so the user doesn’t miss their mark).

Trex aumented reality at ROM

Test For Success

The ROM’s impressive use of augmented reality in their new social initiative has been largely successful. The encouragement of visitors to email their images to themselves is an excellent lead generation tactic.

About 10% of the approximately 10,000 users who have thus far engaged with the display have agreed to subscribe to the museum’s monthly newsletter. Beyond simply increasing visitor subscriptions, the campaign allows the ROM to improve the quality of photos being displayed on their social media galleries, and it has also allowed them to drum up more effective visitor engagement.

Lexi at The ROM

After the photos are shared on visitor’s social channels, Lexie, the ROM’s social media manager, approves which pictures will go live on the monitor in the exhibit through CrowdRiff. She also moderates which images will be shared on a CrowdRiff powered gallery on the ROM’s website.

Additionally, Lexie engages with the owner of the photos by sending comments and fun facts which are pre-written within the T. rex conversation group inside CrowdRiff. These exchanges have received positive feedback.

The use of augmented reality and photo sharing in the dinosaur exhibit is largely experiential. The campaign has been closely monitored by the ROM’s social media team to evaluate its use in future exhibitions.

As the ROM begins gearing up for the widely anticipated Chihuly Exhibition, which is set to open in June 2016 and is guaranteed to be a very photo driven show, we are likely to see similar interactive social campaigns being utilized. Until then, we definitely encourage you to check out the T. rex Alive experience. Even camera shy visitors will get a kick out of watching toddlers and adults alike feigning fear in front of the ROM’s most popular tenant.

Ah!!! #romtrex @jessjeank @djlex

A post shared by Sarah Hill (@chouse17) on

The ROM is a global innovator when it comes to museums using social media effectively. Check out our customer story with the ROM to see how CrowdRiff plays a part in their success.

The Destination Marketing Strategy of Visit Franklin

One of our clients who we get the most questions about when it comes to destination marketing undoubtedly is Visit Franklin.


Questions like, how did they get their website to look like that? Who took the photos on their homepage? How did they grow their social following? Can you tell us what their strategy is?

Josh Collins, the mastermind behind marketing at Visit Franklin did a fantastic podcast recently in which he spills the beans about his marketing strategy.

We’ve summarized the best parts from the podcast for you here.

Josh was featured in The SocialLab Podcast weekly podcast which discusses the latest social media trends and marketing strategies hosted by Bob Hutchins, Jarrid Wilson, and the Buzzplant team.

You can listen to the podcast HERE and pay extra attention to the 22nd-minute mark where CrowdRiff got a mention from Josh!

Listen Here 

The story starts off with Jarrid describing his first interaction with the Visit Franklin brand just after he moved to Franklin, Tennessee and tells us exactly how that interaction delighted him!

“My wife and I were brand new to the area, maybe a week living in Franklin, and we went down to this place called The Factory… and as we’re walking around and taking pictures, we’re Tweeting, we’re Instagramming just ’cause we’re excited to be in the Franklin area. We love it. “And I walked by this coffee shop that wasn’t yet finished being built out called Honest Coffee Roasters and I took a picture and said, ‘Man, The Factory is awesome. I’m excited about this new coffee shop.’

“I tagged them and I posted it on Twitter and Instagram and about 5 to 10 mins later I got a notification that Visit Franklin had actually Tweeted back at me and said, ‘Hey! Thanks for visiting The Factory. We’re glad you love living here. Also, check out our website. We featured your Instagram photo on the front page.’

“So, immediately, I go, well let me check out their website if this is real or some automated thing and I check it out. Surely enough, the photo I had just taken of Honest Coffee Roasters was front page of this Visit Franklin website. So I’m going, this is too cool!

Visit Franklin TN homepage and Destination Marketing Strategy

“I viewed that as the representation of Franklin. The people of Franklin love that my wife and I live here and they loved our photography! The people of Franklin decided to put our Instagram photo on their website. So immediately there is this connection of like wow, the people here really care about people visiting Franklin.

“I just thought that was such a great example of an organization or a visitors bureau using social media to connect with people on a deeper level and not just spit out content to them.”

The Destination Marketing Strategy Behind Visit Franklin

One of the key questions in the podcast was how can a brand like Visit Franklin get past the technology and impersonal aspect of it and engage people with the feelings, thoughts, and emotions of a town like Franklin? How do you translate something like that online?

Josh answered by saying that your goal as a marketer should be to treat people like human beings even when your interaction with them is online only.

“Your goal as a marketer should be to treat people like human beings.” -Josh Collins @sixsteps268

Social Media and Digital Marketing often loses its sense of authenticity. Josh stresses the fact that it is important to be a human brand, and this is at the core of Visit Franklin’s strategy.

Visit Franklin strives to be a digital representation of the actual experience that people can have in the town of Franklin. This has always been the brand’s primary goal. Another key strategy that Josh implemented at Franklin was to become a Listening First brand. Through listening, the brand started to learn more about who they are, who their audience is and this informed what they needed to do to connect and engage in very authentic ways.

Listen First

Josh shared his thoughts on how CrowdRiff had helped him to listen to his brand online and to what was being said about by real people. He points out,

He points out, “The current reality is that people are online and they are talking about you whether you want them to or not. The opportunity is whether you want to engage.” 

Visit Franklin tried to figure out how can they get involved in that conversation and how they could be invited into the conversation.

Through a tool like CrowdRiff, they can see how people were talking about Franklin and it was through CrowdRiff that they found Jarrid’s photo about The Factory.

In the podcast Josh says, “It’s so interesting how a piece of technology breathed life into the DNA of Visit Franklin and enabled us to scale the way we connect and engage. And through those, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had interactions just like you Jarrid, over and over and over again. People walk away and they’re like, ‘Man, I can’t believe that! I love Franklin. I took a photo, I Tweeted it and next thing I know, somebody is responding to me and talking to me!”

“It’s so interesting how a piece of technology breathed life into the DNA of Visit Franklin…” Josh Collins @sixsteps268

Every Mention, Pay Attention

Josh paints a picture for us and asks us to think about it this way. If you were to walk down the street and someone said “Hi!”, would you ignore it and keep walking? No, you wouldn’t because that would be rude.   Then why would you ignore it when a person interacts with your brand online?

Be congruent with how you are as a destination, and with how the people in your town are and make sure your brand acts and responds in the same way online.

This means reaching out to people and paying attention to every mention, retweet, favorite and like.

“If your online brand doesn’t mirror your actual brand, people know that.” – Josh Collins @sixsteps268

Where Does Your Brand Come Alive?

If you are still struggling to define the personality of your destination, ask yourself these questions.

Where do you see your organization come alive? Does it come alive when you’re helping people, or when restoring your community, or helping visitors to experience your town in the best way?

When you uncover where you come alive, it will show you what a strategy would be like to engage people online.

Find Out What They Are Longing For

Franklin has a lot to offer to various demographics including a rich historic background. These varied demographics are represented in multiple personas.

Instead of getting caught up in trying to please each individual persona separately, Josh recommends focusing on doing the things that would please all the personas.

Regardless of the demographic or persona, everyone longs for a sense of belonging.

Everyone longs for a place where they can feel like they are seen, heard and known. Through this, they feel loved and ultimately, this is what they are longing for.

Through a smart destination marketing strategy, a personable social strategy and personal engagements, you can give your visitors that feeling.

Through that feeling you create in them, you will connect with people on a base level than profiling them solely based on their demographic.

Everybody Wants To Belong

As Josh mentioned before, everybody wants to be picked. Everybody wants to belong.

To be able to have these meaningful exchanges is one of the most fun parts of what Josh and his team do.

These kinds of human exchanges have catapulted growth for Visit Franklin and continues to pay dividends.

Not to mention that Visit Franklin has become a trailblazer in destination marketing and influencing how destinations are marketing themselves now, from Social Media to content marketing.

Check out the Visit Franklin homepage to see CrowdRiff in action 
Follow Josh on Twitter 
Subscribe to the Social Lab Podcast on iTunes

The Best Takeaways from #SoMeT15US

If you’re on the destination marketing conference circuit as a DMO or CVB, you’ve likely heard of SoMeT, put on by Destination Think! It’s one of the premiere conferences for destination marketers who want to learn from world-class leaders and innovate within their industry. It’s chock-full of inspirational ideas to fill your tool chest with, and if you haven’t been before, we’d highly recommend it.

This year, we participated not only as delegates, but also as a sponsor. We had a lot of opportunities to speak with our travel partners and newly made friends, and realized that it can be overwhelming going home with so many notes, no matter how valuable they are.

We put our heads together and decided to summarize some actionable takeaways to give back to the amazing DMO community.

1. Embrace Your Cliches

Be proud of what makes your destination unique, and don’t shy away from it.

In their keynote presentation, Cleveland shared that before they started their campaign, just over 30% of Cleveland residents said they would recommend the city as a destination to travel to. Something they could have easily hid from, and kept marketing their parks, nightlife, or sporting events, but that’s not Cleveland’s style.

Instead of being shy about of it, they embraced it. Their motto became: We never followed the crowd, never listened to the jokes, and for that, you’re welcome. They focused on what made them unique, what made them Cleveland.

They created #ThisisCLE and locals/visitors embraced it, already boasting over 200,000 posts on Instagram.

The results? A recent poll found that 54% of residents would recommend Cleveland as a destination… the proof is in the pudding!

So, what does it mean for you?

Be different. Be unique. Show off your personality.

2. Define Your DNA

Find your strength, and build a DNA around it.

It’s easy to say that your destination has something for everyone, as we’d never want to lose a potential traveller. However, it’s those who make the tough decision to focus on their destination’s strengths, and define their DNA that see the greatest results.


We saw this with Dublin, Ohio who made it clear that Irish is in fact, an attitude. Being Irish is weaved into every aspect of their marketing, and is what draws new travellers to the destination.

When you visit, every experience is unmistakably Irish, from the Irish egg rolls (we’d be interested in trying one!) to the St. Patty’s day parade.

This is their DNA, and even though they’re not based in Ireland, it works!

Ask yourself, “what would the world miss if my destination disappeared?”

Once you have the answer to that, you have the building block of your DNA.

3. Prove Your Social ROI

The one language every executive speaks is ROI.

This is all great, but when the board asks “what’s the ROI on your social campaign?”, what do you do? Well, what a lot of us do, talk impressions, reach, and engagement. As William from Think! mentioned, executives don’t always speak social.

So how do we embrace our cliches, define our DNA, and make social the core of that strategy? You outfit yourself with as many tools to prove the ROI on social.

Because, let’s face it, you won’t get very far, if you don’t have executive buy-in.

Here are some strategies that we’ve seen work.

Relating Social to Word of Mouth Marketing

Social media is Word of Mouth Marketing on steroids.

The one to one conversations that travelers use to share their experiences are the most powerful way to get new travel consideration.

With social, those conversations happen every second, and are shared with every person in their network. Remind executives that by supercharging social, those conversations will reach more people, translating to more heads in beds.

Social is where people go to talk about their experience with your destination, and if you’re not there, you’re missing out.

Talking Efficiency

Because of this one to many nature of Social Media, it is one of the most efficient forms of media.

The beauty of social media is that you can keep a consistent message across all your channels with very little effort. What can be used on Facebook, can be quickly repurposed for Instagram and Twitter. Add on tools that integrate across all your channels, and you’ll have recipe for success in no time.

Remind your executives that in leveraging social for your marketing, you can save time and money, reduce duplicated work, and reach a greater audience.

Making Everything Measurable

Social media is measurable, full stop.

You can’t hide from the glanced over print ads or the tuned out radio ads here, it’s all visible. You’ll also have actionable insight into what works and what doesn’t for your destination.

Learn from your audience’s response, adapt quickly and you’ll see more click throughs and action taken on your brand.

Executives like results, so define your goals early, make a plan, and deliver.

Bringing it All Together

To sum it all up, these are the three things to put into action right now.

  1. Don’t try to be perfect. Find your uniqueness and lead with it. 
  2. Focus on what is unique about your destinations and then define your DNA based on that. Don’t try to please everyone.
  3. Get executive buy-in on social early; focus your efforts, and prove its value.

What was your favourite takeaway from SoMeT15US? Join the conversation on Twitter.

P.S. If you were sharing photos during SoMeT (we know you were!) then sit back and enjoy some nostalgic moments here!