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The Canadian tourist board has recently launched a marketing campaign which has created quite a buzz. The marketing initiative has been heavily promoted via Facebook, and it provides an interesting insight into how a captive public can be socially engaged to participate with a destination.

Capturing the selfie craze

The campaign focuses on the cultural phenomenon that is the selfie. The craze for taking photographs of yourself in a wide variety of different unique locations has been leapt upon by the Canadian tourist board to create a campaign which has really engaged the general public.

“Selfie Swap” encourages both tourists and visitors to Canada, as well as natives, to take selfie photographs around various locations in the North American nation, and then share them with a website. This is a fun approach to underlining how much enjoyment people can get out of a trip to Canada, as well as promoting popular tourist locations in the nation in an innovative and light-hearted way.

In order to really attract people to the page, the Canadian tourist board has also offered people the opportunity to win a free holiday. People that upload the most popular and impressive selfie images will be rewarded with an all-expenses paid trip to Canada itself.

To enable the tourist board to better engage with the selfie-taking crowd, the Canadian DMO has also produced a series of videos which tutor budding photographers on how to take better pictures. By watching the series of videos which have been produced in conjunction with the travel photographer Ian Mallory, users can learn how to capture more engaging images of their trips and adventures.

Travellers to Canada from all over the world can access the “Selfie Swap” website and upload pictures at any time. The intention of the Canadian tourist board is to ensure that the campaign is as interactive as possible, and the website features a bold and striking design which places the pictures themselves at its forefront.

Three lessons to learn

This Canadian campaign has a few specific elements that make it a particularly valuable example for tourist boards to learn from. Firstly, the “Selfie Swap” initiative is very much tapping into some popular cultural phenomena. The trend of taking selfies itself is of course massively popular, and simply giving people the opportunity to do this makes the initiative seem fun, and this consequently rubs off on the destination of Canada itself.

Secondly, it provides one of the key elements of contemporary digital marketing which is becoming absolutely critical, and which many DMOs are recognising to be crucial to the future of the medium. Engaging people socially and making them feel as if they are part of a community that is sharing valuable and interesting information is an extremely important and valuable marketing tool. By encouraging people to share selfies, they are being incentivised to feel as if they are part of a movement or social community.

Thirdly, the campaign is providing extremely useful information to people which will help them more readily master a valued skill. Photographs are obviously one of the primary activities associated with tourism, and by helping people to get the most out of their travel photography, the tourism board of Canada is really providing them with unique and valuable information. This can only reflect favourably on both the organisation itself and the nation.

Inspiration versus social experience

Before engaging in a similar campaign any DMO should ask themselves a few questions in order to help guide its approach. One of the key concepts to define is whether the goal of the campaign is to inspire travellers with ideas, or to achieve significant social engagement. This particular campaign is extremely effective in this respect, as it could be argued that it achieves both; effectively killing two birds with one stone.

The selfie photographs help to engage travellers and insight people to participate in a communal experience. But the materials produced also help to show Canada in a flattering light. This concept of engaging people in the social experience while also enabling them to create content which benefits your marketing board and destination is an increasingly common one, and a trend that digital marketers should very much attempt to incorporate into their own efforts.

Long-term engagement is also very important in social media campaigns. Any initiative should drive engagement and inspiration over a lengthy period of time by encouraging anyone that is engaging socially with a destination to talk about it on a regular basis and share experiences as they encounter them.

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