Pinterest is all about visual content, and Visit Bucks County takes full advantage of that. As a tourism organization for Bucks County Pennsylvania, they realize that what people want to see on Pinterest is photos that are visually captivating and inspiring. And Visit Bucks County offers just that, with their boards that highlight places to stay, eat, shop and even get married in Bucks County. They want to be front-of-mind to those vacation planners of the family, that happen to be a large chunk of Pinterest’s users.
They’re not only using Pinterest to share photos, but to connect with their audience and gain inspiration from them. Right now they are running a contest on Pinterest for users to repin a prize they are interested in winning, which they are seeing huge success with already. The contest doesn’t end until May 1st and Visit Bucks County has already seen a large increase in followers and repins.
We got the chance to talk with them in detail about their social media use, especially Pinterest, and they had some really interesting insights.
Get Pinterested: Visit Bucks County has an impressive group of followers on nearly every social network. Can you tell us a little bit about your overall social media strategy and how you keep your social media fresh, exciting, and engaging?
Paul Bencivengo: Visit Bucks County first began using social media in 2008 when we created a Facebook account. Since then, as new social media sites have emerged, we’ve become early adopters often joining social media sites long before other tourism organizations. Using social media gives us the opportunity to speak directly with our audiences. New technologies and platforms are changing the way we market and communicate with visitors and Visit Bucks County wants to stay on the leading edge in our industry. Social media also gives us a more direct media when running contests and promotions.
Our marketing and communications efforts are very integrated. Everything that disseminated from our office now includes social media on it!
Even though the Bucks County Visitor Center closes at 5 p.m., using social media allows us to speak to locals and visitors any time of day, including after normal business hours. This increases our visibility and positions us as a resource to those who may be seeking more information about Bucks County.
Currently, Visit Bucks County has more than 30,000 total followers on all of our social media channels.
Has your experience with Pinterest, or any social media for that matter, changed the way that you look at your business or how you market your events and destinations?
PB: Absolutely! Social media has enhanced the way we communicate with our target audiences and market Bucks County as a tourist destination. It gives us the chance to directly reach those who are interested in learning about Bucks County. While we still participate in traditional advertising efforts, social media is a relatively inexpensive way to reach our target audiences in a personal and impactful way.
What drove you to Pinterest?
PB: We did a lot of research about Pinterest before we decided to begin using the site. A few of our staff members used Pinterest personally to get a feel for the site, and we watched as brands slowly began joining to market their products. In January, we joined just a handful of other tourism organizations using Pinterest.
Visit Bucks County is always searching for creative ways to communicate with tourists and locals and using Pinterest is another channel to reach those audiences by showing them all that Bucks County has to offer. It’s no secret that we’ve become more of a visual society and attention spans have shortened. Pinterest is a great way to showcase Bucks County in a clean and visually appealing manner.
Pinterest is also the perfect fit for a travel and tourism organization like Visit Bucks County. The website Visual.ly recently reported that approximately 83 percent of the site’s users are females. As women are usually the travel decision makers in the family, we saw the site as a great way for us to directly reach those planning trips for their families.
We see Pinterest as a great opportunity for businesses to showcase their culture and lifestyle, and that is what Visit Bucks County seems to be all about. Can you share with us how you use Pinterest to do this?
PB: You’re absolutely correct; Pinterest is fantastic for organizations like Visit Bucks County to showcase culture and lifestyle. The site has become especially popular in categories such as travel, dining, shopping and weddings, so we really feel that Pinterest is a great place to focus some of our social media efforts to meet our marketing goals. The Pinterest demographic is also perfect for the tourism/travel industry. Research shows that women make a majority of the household getaway/vacation plans. This aligns perfectly with Pinterest’s female-dominated platform.
We currently have 10 pinboards in the following categories: ‘Play in Bucks County,’ ‘Stay in Bucks County,’ ‘Dine in Bucks County, ‘Shop in Bucks County,’ ‘Say “I Do” in Bucks County,’ ‘Meet in Bucks County,’ ‘Bucks in the News,’ ‘Beautiful Bucks County Through The Seasons,’ ‘Top 12 Reasons to Visit Bucks County in 2012,’ and our ‘Repin It To Win It’ contest board.
Upon clicking on an image on any of our pinboards, users are treated to a short description about the image, and if they desire more information, they can click the photo to be taken directly to that attraction or venue’s website. We’ve seen several users repinning our images onto boards titled, ‘Fun with the kids,’ ‘Wedding ideas,’ and ‘Places I need to check out,’ proving that our pins are resonating with those who follow us.
Since Pinterest is the new kid on the block, is there anything you’ve done or anyone you’ve looked to for help getting started?
PB: As I mentioned a bit earlier, we spent a lot of time doing research on how major brands are using Pinterest for marketing purposes. We also reached out to other tourism and industry organizations to share ideas and Pinterest best practices. Since the site is still relatively new and not yet optimized for brands, we’re constantly learning and evolving, and brainstorming new ways to strengthen our Pinterest presence.
Pinterest is a place full of great inspiration. Does Visit Bucks County use Pinterest for inspiration for any business ventures? Do you look to your followers for inspiration?
PB: Definitely. We love browsing our Pinterest feed to see what other users are pinning. Another reason that Pinterest is so great is that it gives us a glimpse into what our followers are interested in. We are able to use Pinterest as an informal focus group, to gather market research on our target audiences and their interests and lifestyles.
We love what you are doing with your Repin It To Win It Pinterest Contest; can you tell us your strategy and thought process behind this contest?
PB: After a successful launch on Pinterest, we decided to create a contest to increase engagement with those who are following us. To our knowledge, we are one of the first, if not the first, tourism organization to further leverage Pinterest with this kind of promotion.
We created a dedicated contest pinboard and partnered with local attractions and businesses to compile a collection of nearly two dozen uniquely Bucks County experiences and prizes. Until May 1, Pinterest users are invited to simply repin the prizes they are interested in winning to one of their personal boards.
We know that as contest photos get repinned, the amplification and impact increases as more and more people are exposed to the photos, helping us to reach our goal of raising awareness about Bucks County attractions and businesses.
What results do you hope to see once the contest is over? And how do you define success in general when it comes to Pinterest?
PB: We’re already very excited about the results we’re seeing from the contest so far! Just one week after the contest launched, our following grew by 50 and the contest pinboard had more than 400 followers and nearly 1,000 repins.
We know that right now Pinterest does not have any sort of metrics or measurement tool in place. We’ve created our own weekly tracking system, and are excited to see our following grow each week. However, we understand that Pinterest is so much more than just increasing our number of followers. We are also looking at who is repinning our content, where they are from and how they categorize the items we pin. We love seeing comments and likes on our pins; those tools give us an idea of which pins resonate best with our followers.
What kind of tourism content do you think users are looking for on Pinterest?
PB: First and foremost, Pinterest users are seeking compelling photography. If a photo doesn’t capture their attention, there is no way they are going to check it out further or consider repinning it to one of their personal boards. Second, Pinterest users are simply looking for content that interests and inspires them—ideas for future vacations, restaurants to try, fun family activities and more.
Visit Bucks County is one of the first tourism agencies to have a real presence on Pinterest, do you think others will soon follow? If so, what will you do to make Visit Bucks County stand out?
PB: Yes, absolutely. As Pinterest continues to grow in popularity, more and more tourism organizations are joining the site. As of mid-March, one tourism industry blogger reported that more than 130 tourism organizations are currently using the site.
There are a few different ways we are making a splash on Pinterest and taking our engagement strategy to the next level. For one, we consider our “Repin It To Win It’ contest to be unique, since as far we know, no other tourism organizations have done this yet. Secondly, we are highlighting media placements and sharing Bucks County news in a dedicated “Bucks In The News” pinboard. We even used Pinterest as an added bonus to our “Top 12 Reasons To Visit Bucks County In 2012” press release by creating a board specifically highlighting those 12 items and sending it to the media. Lastly, we’re not only using Pinterest to reach consumer audiences, but also B2B audiences. Our “Say I Do In Bucks County” pinboard is aimed at brides, as Bucks County has several unique venues for planning weddings. Our “Meet In Bucks County” board is targeted at meeting and event planners to showcase the many great meeting spaces throughout the county.
We would like to thank Paul Bencivengo for taking the time to talk with us. If we ever make our way over to Pennsylvania we will be sure to check out Visit Bucks County first!