Small But Mighty: How VisitGreenvilleSC Reached One Million Uses of Their Hashtag
How do you build a brand flaunting the uniqueness of a place that was once viewed no differently from the countless other cities it shares a name with?
As Greenville, South Carolina was in the middle of a multi-decade downtown revitalization effort, the small city of about 70,000 was looking to create a first-ever destination brand identity that accurately reflected the individuality and unique vibe of their city.
But the landlocked town isn’t just competing for tourism dollars with the coastal cities and towns down the road, not to mention major cities like nearby Charlotte and Atlanta; it isn’t even the only Greenville in the country. In fact, there are 36 other cities and towns with the same name across the United States.
Standing out in a crowded field: becoming Yeah, That Greenville
“There was this idea that this Greenville needed to differentiate itself from not only the other Greenvilles that are out there, but from the other destination choices that are around,” explained Jay Adams, the Social Media Content Manager of VisitGreenvilleSC.
“The Yeah, That Greenville brand was introduced in early 2013 and the hashtag naturally followed. The brand was built with the gut feeling that this could be sustainable, something that taps into the long-held sense of pride our community has for our destination.”
Since introducing the Yeah, That Greenville brand in 2013, it has evolved into a rallying cry for locals and visitors alike. “We wanted to be that Greenville, the Greenville that people thought of when they heard that word, and that's what really inspired the brand,” said Adams.
Adams, who refers to himself as “That Social Media Content Manager,” says he’s not alone for adopting the moniker. “We have so many accounts out there that will take cues from that idea and say they're ‘yeah, that foodie’ or ‘yeah, that cyclist,’ he said.
#YeahThatGreenville hits the one million hashtag usage milestone
This autumn, VisitGreenvilleSC celebrated the one-millionth usage of the hashtag on Instagram alone. This is an incredible feat for any campaign, but is even more impressive when considering that much of the traffic was organic.
“As a social media professional, I consider that extremely special, and rare,” Adams said. “That's not to say the hashtag hasn't appeared in paid advertising or social posts, but there hasn't been a genuine, concerted effort to create more awareness around the use of the hashtag.”
Adams credits the popularity of the hashtag in part to the sense of pride that swelled within the community as the brand story began to be told, but that’s only part of what made it so successful. After all, Adams doesn’t believe a #VisitGreenvilleSC or another hashtag that evokes the town’s name would have stirred the same emotions or embracement.
“There's a real identity to it, and it’s just something that resonates with the audience because of that.”
Taking their marketing to the next level
In November of 2018, VisitGreenvilleSC signed up with CrowdRiff to help increase its user generated content efforts.
As the DMO looked to take their social media brand awareness to the next level, Adams says they saw a chance to harness and amplify greater amounts of UGC, create more opportunities for one-to-one marketing through social media, and further tell the Greenville story.
“In kicking the tires on CrowdRiff it became clear very quickly that this could help propel us to the next level of #YeahThatGreenville’s success,” he said. “We reached a million, and that's awesome, but we're not done; we've got two million and three million and five million and 10 million to get to.”
“We view CrowdRiff as a piece of our social media arsenal that, combined with our other social media efforts, will help us reach those milestones because of its content discovery capabilities and the efficiencies it has helped create in my workflows."
Sharing authentic Greenville stories with user-generated content
Adams predicts that about 95% of the destination’s social media marketing efforts are focused on user-generated content, which can be found in galleries throughout its website and social channels as well is in print advertising.
"The Greenville community is always willing to share their favorite “that”, whether it's a place to get a cup of coffee, a favorite restaurant, a hidden gem. We can manufacture content all day long, but the story is already being told by our community on social media. By sparking inspiration and engaging with them, we harness what they're saying and amplify those messages, and we're allowing visitors and locals to tell the story of Greenville, and that's the most authentic story that can be told."
Saving time and streamlining workflows with CrowdRiff
Though it’s only been a few months Adams says the platform has already improved his ability to spread awareness of the brand and corresponding hashtag while streamlining internal workflows.
“Having that one place where all of this content is coming in has made such a huge difference from a time standpoint,” he says.
Furthermore, since CrowdRiff offers metrics that demonstrate how galleries and images are performing, Adams says it has significantly improved his ability to put the destination’s best user generated content front and centre.
"When we're having photos in our web galleries that are showing us a 20% engagement rate, that's bonkers to me, because we're so used to seeing engagement rates on social media between 1-4%, and having that insight helps us hone our galleries so we can enhance our website experience as a whole," he says.
"The engagement has been really eye opening because it's another thing we can point to as a sign that sharing the great experiences people are enjoying in Greenville is the best way to tell the Greenville story."
Looking to the future
Moving forward, Adams says he’s looking to continue growing the destination’s user-generated content marketing efforts. “...this is a platform and a company we believe in so much to get us where we want to go, and has already paid off...” he says.
With CrowdRiff, VisitGreenvilleSC can continue to amplify the Yeah, That Greenville story with ease.
Header image courtesy of David Siglin and found on Unsplash.
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