Fall is a beautiful season in Michigan. With more than 600 miles between the northernmost point and the southernmost point, fall colors last six weeks across the state. During this period, Pure Michigan sought to engage audiences in-state and across the Midwest region to experience the vibrant, breath-taking colors of fall in Michigan.
Pure Michigan's advertising, social and public relations teams together developed an interactive, integrated media campaign to uniquely enhance brand engagement and to achieve the following:
- Generate awareness and drive fall travel to Michigan from feeder and in-state markets;
- Engage followers on all social channels, gain momentum with existing followers and inspire new followers; and
- Increase awareness and affinity amongst Pure Michigan's audience, connecting them more deeply to the brand.
- In-state and regional travelers, ages 25-54, interested in tourism, photography, beer/wine tours, fall festivals and homecoming events.
To capture fall color as it peaked across Michigan, and to inspire and assist travel audiences to plan Michigan fall trips, we developed a brand engagement campaign for our followers to feel genuinely involved in the journey.
Based on organic search trends, research and analytics, we know trip guides and authentic imagery perform well with travel audiences. With the rise of consumer trust in influencers, we enlisted influential travel photographers to tell the Michigan fall story.
The campaign was executed via PR, social media, influencer relations and paid media.
We engaged social audiences through an authentic travel experience led by three influencers as they journeyed across Michigan. Each influencer traveled a route for two weeks. Pure Michigan's followers are passionate experts in their areas, so we enlisted the social community to vote on each stop along the way.
Polls were live for 36 hours on Facebook and Instagram with fans casting their vote by commenting on which location the travelers should visit next. The influencers explored each destination and shared their experiences on social using the hashtags #PureMichiganScenicRoute and #FallandSeek.
The campaign launch included a multi-faceted strategy:
- Landing page
- Social media promotion, polls
- Paid media, digital advertising
- Press release/earned media outreach
- Content marketing (videos, blogs, digital banners)
- Industry partnerships
- Based on their affinity for traveling (in Michigan and across the world), remarkable storytelling capabilities through a lens, and engaged social following, three influencers representing diverse backgrounds were selected: Shalee Blackmer, Dan Price and Gene Yoon.
- Travels were divided into stages: Upper Peninsula Sept. 12-23; Northern Lower Peninsula Sept. 25-Oct. 7; and Southern Lower Peninsula Oct. 8-20.
- They shared their journey on personal and Pure Michigan's social channels.
- A landing page was developed for campaign details, social activity and content developed.
Paid & Earned Media:
- Regional TV and radio buys; OOO home in-state and regional broadcasts; paid content with National Geographic; Weather Channel branded backgrounds; Waze takeover and branded pins; native ads with TripleLift; and digital banners on RocketFuel.
- Paid social promotion on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
- Press release distribution and targeted pitches; influencers participated in interviews throughout their travels.
- Blogs, videos and photos were published on the landing page, which was promoted via earned media, social and digital advertising.
- Influencers shared updates daily, including Instagram photos, videos and stories.
- Each influencer developed trip guides for michigan.org to inspire travel to the areas they explored.
- The Big 10 Conference college football game among rivals Michigan State University vs. University of Michigan is a highly anticipated collegiate sporting event – drawing fans to return to Michigan to support their alma mater.
- The game sponsorship increased visibility for the campaign through television viewership and social engagement with MSU and U of M fans.
The campaign outperformed benchmarks. We saw 13,946 votes and an average of 800 comments on Instagram posts over the course of the campaign (356% higher than benchmarks). One Instagram post saw 1,596 comments — far more than previous posts.
We asked consumers to vote for one location over another, and what may have been considered a controversial approach for a travel brand resulted in a friendly and successful engagement campaign.
Campaign Success Metrics:
- Total Impressions: 42,693,308 digital impressions; 172,347,185 paid media impressions
- CTR: 0.42%, above travel industry benchmark of 0.06%
- Organic Engagement: 13,946 total votes; 346,873 total Facebook and Instagram engagements; 5,815,596 total reach on Facebook (average post reach 138,467)
- Paid Social: 87,426 social clicks to michigan.org, 178,979 clicks to michigan.org/fall
Influencer Success Metrics:
Video for Pure Michigan: Fall & Seek Campaign
- Message Delivery: On-brand messaging for Pure Michigan and participation in media opportunities. Influencers produced authentic content matching Pure Michigan's look and feel, providing 300 photos for use in future campaigns.
- Story Generation: Dozens of Instagram stories and posts/content were created, many of which have continued to be useful beyond the campaign. The influencers also provided trip guides for michigan.org.
- Brand Affinity: Pure Michigan created a connection with each influencer, apparent to their users through their trips and continued sharing of content. The influencers resonated with our audiences across channels and drove engagement amongst target audiences on brand and owned channels.