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How YesMilano Uses CrowdRiff to Increase Engagement and Build Their Brand

Like many Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) around the world, YesMilano found itself in a difficult predicament post-COVID. 

Milano has always enjoyed an international reputation as Italy’s business capital and world center for fashion and design, but YesMilano knew it had to change its tourism marketing messages in the wake of the pandemic in order to target local tourism and showcase its neighborhoods to all kinds of visitors. They also needed to show that Milano was more than just a city for business and shopping. YesMilano aimed to build back its engagement with travelers to pre-COVID levels, and to work to create a multifaceted brand identity for Milano built around culture, leisure, style, youth, sustainability, and inclusion.

To do just that, YesMilano turned to a robust strategy of using social media — especially user-generated content (UGC) — that enables them to regularly engage with local and international visitors, and also helps them support and engage their tourism partners. By implementing this strategy, with the use of CrowdRiff to support it, the City of Milano's DMO has increased the number of Instagram followers by 162%, from 45,500 to 199,350, despite the pandemic, travel restrictions, and lockdowns.

Here’s a closer look at how YesMilano accomplished this:

Streamlining the Collection of UGC

Before using CrowdRiff, Luca Martinazzoli, General Manager of Milano & Partners and his team would spend hours and hours scrolling through Instagram in an attempt to find UGC that YesMilano and its tourism partners could use. And when it came to big events, like Design Week, it was a challenge to find the right photos that they wanted to collect and share with partners. Another issue was being able to set up an advanced rights management tool, and the process for uploading photos to a central location could be tedious and time consuming.

But with CrowdRiff’s Media Hub and Collector, it’s been much easier for Martinazzoli’s team to be able to collect and share visual imagery with the DMO’s partners. The CrowdRiff Collector, in particular, makes it easy for anyone in YesMilano’s community to directly upload visuals to CrowdRiff from any device, and those visuals then appear in an Uploaded Assets stream.

Martinazzoli has used the UGC collected through CrowdRiff to create a Media Hub that’s separate from YesMilano’s website.

“I like that everything is in one place, and the process is so much smoother,” Martinazzoli says. 

YesMilano is also currently experimenting with Photo Walls in its new offices to easily display the UGC they’ve been collecting through CrowdRiff for events and campaigns. “I love to give life to the screens in the new spaces of YesMilano in Palazzo Giureconsulti,” Martinazzoli says.

Adding New Perspectives of the City

A key way in which UGC is helping YesMilano with its branding is how it shows the many different facets of the city in such a compelling way. 

“You can portray a place in many different ways [with CrowdRiff and UGC]. For instance, Milano has a reputation for being gray and smoggy which is at odds with current urban reality.” explains Martinazzoli.

“But with CrowdRiff, I can channel the softer, gentler, greener Milano that now exists. CrowdRiff enables us to find those pictures and disseminate them in all of our partner channels.”

Giving a Boost to Milan’s Annual Design Week

Every year, the city hosts the Milano Design Week, when the global design industry converges on the city for the Salone and Fuorisalone (World Furniture Fair and Program of Design Installations). This year, YesMilano wanted to use the annual event as a way to build engagement and further develop the city’s brand identity.

Inspired by a CrowdRiff webinar with Visit Jersey who shared their success with a photo challenge, YesMilano did the same by hosting an interactive photo contest on Instagram that amassed more than 450 photos. Those user-generated photos became the images of the daily newsletter on the five best things to do during Design Week.

“Design Week is this weeklong bonanza where it’s hard to narrow down what you really want to see, but we helped young people coming to Milano for design by showing them what was up each day,” Martinazzoli says. “It’s always a very intense time of the year.”

When collecting UGC for Design Week, YesMilano used CrowdRiff’s Collector tool and shared it with their participating Design Week partners, making it easy for everyone to upload and share content with one another, and share images to the press and the public. 

The photo contest was so successful that YesMilano plans to hold another one later this summer to engage even more people. For the Christmas season, the DMO plans to promote more UGC to showcase the beautiful Christmas trees that populate the city during La Scala, while also suggesting new areas to discover each day.

“We feel like Milano has completely recovered and is ready to explore new horizons with the Olympics and the many green projects dotting the city,” says Martinazzoli. “Design Week took us back to pre-pandemic tourist flows and Milano is more attractive than ever for international tourists.”