China’s traveler demographic is shifting. A new wave of “free and independent” travelers has emerged, leaving a lot of US destinations clueless on how to capture their interests. To meet this challenge, San Francisco Travel Association partnered with United Airlines to create an engaging and interactive campaign on WeChat.
Our goal was to create a campaign that would increase San Francisco Travel Association's WeChat follower growth, enhance brand awareness for United Airlines and San Francisco, and inspire travelers to visit the city of San Francisco by positioning it as a unique and vibrant destination.
For spring 2019, the San Francisco Travel Association’s communication theme was “The first time, every time”. Here in San Francisco, every visit is different. Whether you’re a first time visitor or a returning visitor, San Francisco always has something new to offer everyone. The city’s attractions leave a lasting impression and stimulate different emotions with each visit.
We integrated this theme into a WeChat campaign called Pantone Color SF, through which we aimed to increase engagement and follower retention via an interactive and creatively-driven concept. By giving iconic locations in SF a unique color name based on emotions they felt when visiting or viewing images of these attractions, users were able to tap into their own imagination and make San Francisco a personal touch, and were encouraged by the prospect of winning giveaway prizes.
In just under one month, we reached a 5.86% engagement rate – 134% more than the established KPI – and gained 12,000+ new followers. On the paid media side, we garnered 13+ million impressions, and 98,000+ clicks (32% above the estimate).
The campaign generated an overall 21.5% increase in followers, with 32.2% hailing from Tier 1 and 2 cities, improving the overall follower profile of their account.
Though paid media certainly played an important role in the success of this campaign, the delicate mix of performance and branding elements highlights the effectiveness of tapping into users’ imagination in travel marketing campaigns. Because the motivation behind booking travel is complex and imperative to any prospective traveler’s consumer journey, the onus is on marketers to continue innovating in social campaigns by providing interactive mediums for our target audiences.
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