Social Media Free Trip is a project by the Municipality of Bologna and Bologna Congressi within the context of tourist promotion. It aims to promote Bologna as a destination at an international level, creating word of mouth, social and viral advertising based on tourists' direct experiences. It is addressed to social media users with a wide network of followers and friends who become an advertising vehicle of the content related to the city.
Social Media Free Trip can be very powerful in spreading content, especially with regards to the fact that consumers trust user-generated content a lot more than content provided by a tourism destination or organisation. It is therefore a very smart way of taking advantage of consumers' passion for social media and is a response to the need for user-generated content to inspire potential travellers to Bologna. The focus is on the emotional experiences through social media storytelling.
To date, the UK-campaign has had twelve winners out of a total of about 130 candidates. Bologna Welcome has 7340 likes on Facebook and 1357 followers on Twitter. The first winner visited 15-17 November 2012, the last one 28-30 June 2013. The first traveler @flaneurzine, has about 2539 followers. During the trip, @flaneurzine posted 117 tweets, which were also posted on Facebook. @flaneurzine also published seven blog posts and six Instagram photos. It has been estimated the potential secondary reach of the posts generated by the winners to be 19.777.920.
The promotional YouTube video "Free Italian Kisses" posted 28 November 2012 has 8004 views to date. (//www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4O9vZq8O3Q)