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How Travel Kansas Promotes the State Through UGC and Photo Contests

kansas photo contest case study


What do a seasoned hunter, an avid history buff and a competitive cyclist have in common? They all have something new to discover in the state of Kansas.


But with destinations that range from outdoor adventure to leisure, local to international and family fun to those more popular with Boomers, Travel Kansas and its advertising agency, jones huyett Partners (jhP), have had to get creative and strategic when determining how to use their limited and unpredictable budget, which is set annually by the State government.


Kansas is many things to many people, and each of the experiences available in America’s heartland entices a drastically different audience member. Sometimes jhP and Kansas Tourism are looking to promote the upcoming turkey season to the international hunting community. Other times they’re challenged with introducing local Kansans to parts of the state they might not yet be aware of. They are also tasked with inspiring Millennial travelers from across the country to the State’s burgeoning culinary scene and uniquely, authentic experiences.


“It is so broad working as a state to connect with each one of them on an intimate level and capture their attention,” said Logan Hildebrand, the Digital Media Manager of Kansas Tourism for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.




To speak to each of these unique audiences in their own language Kansas Tourism’s website homepage allows visitors to choose the “persona” that best describes their travel interests, ranging from “Bird Watcher” and “Family Traveler” to “Hunter” and “Angler.”


“The persona determines where we market,” said Charles Morgan, the Kansas Tourism account coordinator for jhP. “Some we know to push out nationally because we know people will make a trip out of it, versus something that we may keep in state or closer-by.”


Whether visitors travel from across the country for the state’s famous hunting season, or from across town to explore a new restaurant or gallery, Morgan says each persona and demographic wants to see people like them engaged in activities that are easily accessible, rather than branded and carefully staged messaging.


“Everybody loves user-generated content; it's more authentic. Whether it’s visitors or citizens, you have other people voicing the great things that there are to do here, so it definitely helps spread the brand further, and that was definitely a big component of going with CrowdRiff.” - CHARLES MORGAN, ACCOUNT COORDINATOR, JHP


Kansas Tourism, in partnership with jhP, have used the platform to target influencers, grow their social media following, gain strategic insights on each of the personas they’re targeting and launch a number of social media campaigns.


Last year, for example, Kansas Tourism announced an Instagram and Twitter campaign using CrowdRiff called #KSbucketlist. A list of must-see attractions was nominated and selected to be the top 70 in Kansas. Users were then asked to post pictures of their travels to those locations, and Kansas Tourism chose a random monthly winner from the pool of users that posted from one of the listed locations, using the hashtag.




This year’s campaign, #NoPlaceLikeKS, is more open ended, and encourages their followers be a little more creative. It also takes the contest component one step further.


“This time we’re asking people to go on there and vote, and the winner with the most number of likes monthly will be contacted, and their photo will be used in some kind of advertising, and that is where we begin to push user-generated content into our other marketing pieces,” says Hildebrand.


Travel Kansas Social Media Photo Content _ CrowdRiff Case Study


The winning images are used across a range of marketing materials, including newsletters, online and print ads. “Anything that can involve an image from a consumer rather than something that we go out and take ourselves,” she explains.


The marketing team is also using social media campaigns to help expose locals to lesser-known corners of the state that they may not discover otherwise. Morgan explains that they have begun organizing Instameets, wherein groups of social photographers gather in person to meet fellow enthusiasts and post pictures to their accounts. While the first meet-up took place in Lindsborg, the Kansas Tourism team has been encouraging more Instameets in smaller and lesser-known locations as well as locations not often captured by travelers.


“It also helps us push out content with a greater reach to our consumers, which we can obtain through partnering with influencers.”


How CrowdRiff Helps Simplify Photo Contents

Morgan adds that before CrowdRiff, organizing and measuring the success of these social media campaigns would have been nearly impossible, especially with the limited resources available.


“We had to find people to come [to the Instameet], and if we didn't have CrowdRiff we'd have to go through Facebook and Instagram searching for hashtags hoping to find people. CrowdRiff cuts the time down dramatically, and we're able to find people with the content that we want to target. I can't stress enough the amount of time it saves, and the amount of opportunity it gives us."


Though their budget is often limited and never guaranteed, Morgan and Hildebrand are able to identify, track and reach the highly varied personas that flock to the state for drastically different reasons and at various times of the year.


“Instead of having the Kansas brand voice, you get hundreds of thousands of voices from user-generated content to help spread the message,” said Morgan.



About the author

Talia is a traveler, startup lover, and storyteller, and feels lucky to be working at the intersection of all three as CrowdRiff's Content Marketing Manager. When she’s not writing, you’ll either find her hiking up a mountain or snowboarding down it. Next travel destination: Newfoundland!

Profile Photo of Talia van Everdingen