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How Experience Wakefield Maximizes User-Generated Content to Boost Engagement and Drive Tourism

Like many destination marketing organizations (DMOs), Experience Wakefield in West Yorkshire, England, found itself with limited resources but had goals for increasing engagement through user-generated content (UGC), and therefore driving tourism to its charming metropolitan area known for its museums and festivals.

But when the government-backed DMO began using CrowdRiff in July 2021, it immediately started to see increased engagement — and it also became much easier for their small team to source UGC for marketing purposes. Since using CrowdRiff, Experience Wakefield has increased their Instagram followers by 47% and their average reach has gone up by 36.9%. 

“Our objectives are always to increase engagement and tell as many people as possible about the events and attractions in Wakefield,” says Eleanor Taylor, Tourism Content and Digital Officer for Experience Wakefield. “We measure how many people are engaging with our content, and having engaging imagery that’s fresh is so important as it makes people actually want to visit. CrowdRiff helps us easily capture new images, especially seasonal ones, that we can use for so many different marketing purposes.”

Here’s a closer look at all the ways this DMO uses CrowdRiff to their marketing advantage.

Applying UGC Across Multiple Channels

Experience Wakefield uses UGC for a variety of different marketing channels, ranging from its website to newsletters, and using it for printed materials that promote its partners, festivals, and other major attractions.

“It’s important for us to have an attractive website, because first impressions count and happen quickly. ” notes Taylor. For that reason, Experience Wakefield prefers to source UGC that’s eye-catching and engaging, displaying it in CrowdRiff Galleries featured prominently on its website.

Galleries have also been helpful for promoting their events. Due to a limitation associated with their website’s content management system, Experience Wakefield can only feature one image per event page, but by using CrowdRiff’s embedded UGC Galleries they can display multiple images at a time.

“Of all our venue pages, of which we have hundreds, our 2nd, 4th, 6th, 10th most visited venue pages are those with Galleries”, says Taylor.

Using UGC to Boost Their Newsletter Engagement

Experience Wakefield also bookends each of its newsletters with UGC sourced using CrowdRiff, including a heartwarming “Dog of the Month” in every edition. Each newsletter also encourages subscribers to submit their own images — whether of their pups, or of other events and attractions throughout the municipality. Since adding UGC to their newsletter, subscribers have more than tripled, from just over 2300 in June 2021 to 6946 subscribers today.  

By using CrowdRiff’s Collector feature within its newsletter and on its social media channels, Experience Wakefield has amassed a number of submissions from both newsletter subscribers as well as social media users.

Supporting Tourism Partners and Local Businesses with UGC

Experience Wakefield isn’t the only entity that benefits from UGC sourced via CrowdRiff. The DMO also receives requests for UGC from its local partners, like Wakefield’s museums, and CrowdRiff makes it easy for them to share those images, too. Going forward, the DMO hopes to use this UGC in some of Wakefield’s museum brochures and summer planners for kid’s activities geared toward locals.

Being able to easily share this content helps Experience Wakefield promote their local businesses as they recover post-pandemic — a major goal for the DMO this year. They’ve used UGC to market initiatives that encourage people to check out local businesses, like the Liquorice Festival Food & Drink Trail, spotlighting local food-and-beverage businesses in Wakefield.

Another goal of theirs is to collaborate with other tourism partners. The DMO is actively using UGC to position the region they’re part of – West Yorkshire – as an ideal travel destination, perfect for exploring a wide range of nearby cities and towns. 

“The results we’ve seen from [working more with other local authorities on coordinated marketing efforts] has been really positive, and we get a lot of engagement on it,” says Taylor. “We’ve positioned ourselves more within West Yorkshire as a whole than just an entity on our own, which I think makes us a lot stronger.”

Using UGC for Print

A key component of Experience Wakefield’s future strategy is using high quality UGC for printed materials or collateral. The DMO intends to create visitor guides, pamphlets, and brochures all including UGC and distribute them locally to community centers and libraries. 

We’re currently using these images in our non-print materials, Taylor says, and they are especially useful when they depict an annual event, like Wakefield’s popular Liquorice Festival or Roman Festival. With CrowdRiff, these images are generated and collected in real time, making it easy to use the content to promote the event as it’s being held, and also to save it for next year’s campaign. “We plan to use those images in our upcoming brochures and promotional posters,” she explains.

Finding the Right Kind of UGC

Another major goal that Experience Wakefield wants to meet this year is ensuring that it has diversity in the types of imagery that the team uses to market the destination. This echoes the diversity that they strive to include in their events as well, by having sign-language interpreters and autism-friendly sessions and spaces. 

“That [diversity in imagery] could be making sure that we have a diversity of family types and making sure that we’re featuring people of color, and people with disabilities, so when we find UGC, it’s a lot more authentic than having staged photographs where we’ve brought people in,” Taylor explains. “The UGC just feels very natural and it’s just people’s real experiences.”

Maintaining Privacy for GDPR

CrowdRiff also helps Experience Wakefield maintain privacy under the strict laws enacted by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It ensures that any UGC or images collected by CrowdRiff have the photographer’s permission and that using the images is not a violation of that photographer’s privacy under GDPR.

“Because we have explicit permission from the person that took the photograph to use it, we know that we’re not accidentally using something that belongs to someone else,” says Taylor.

“Additionally, those permissions are then stored on CrowdRiff’s servers, which we know are removed from our website, so it helps us feel more secure. It means we don’t have to keep a list of consents anywhere on the council’s servers, which presents its own problems with keeping that data secure.”

Sourcing Images and Securing Rights for Printed Materials

Maintaining privacy also extends to sourcing images and securing the rights to photos for print materials, Taylor adds. While people are generally fine with having their photos shared digitally, Taylor says they are more reluctant to share their photos for print materials. By using Collector for photo contests and submissions through CrowdRiff, however, the DMO hopes to be able to secure rights to more images for print.

To promote an upcoming month-long art installation festival, Experience Wakefield is looking for user-generated images from amateur photographers that they can secure for print and social media. With CrowdRiff’s Collector, they are inviting and incentivizing people to submit their images of the festival.

In short, CrowdRiff has become an essential part of Experience Wakefield’s marketing strategy, helping them gather and utilize UGC to drive engagement.