Put Travel Marketing in the Hands of the People

Since moving to Florida I’ve been through the typical transition from wide-eyed tourist to critical local. I’ve stopped seeing Florida as a vacation destination and starting seeing it as a competitor to New Jersey for weirdest residents. But I usually share the parts that I love on Twitter and Instagram: the beach, the warm weather, the unique wildlife, etc. It’s these posts that Visit Florida is hoping to harness.

Visit Florida has debuted a social media plan to crowd source their marketing message. They’re using third party advocates (residents) talk about how awesome Florida is and provide statewide word of mouth advertising.


Even though we live in Florida, we still love posting pictures of the sunrise or sunset – depending on what coast we’re on. There’s no shortage of Floridians boasting about the weather as the north gets snowed on. Frankly, the biggest challenge is getting locals to use the right hashtags.

Visit Florida isn’t the only group that’s harnessing the power of the people. The BBC reported that three Atlanta photographers are encouraging residents to showcase their city in a positive light by tagging Instagram photos with #WeLoveATL.

The goal of #weloveatl is to bring the citizens of Atlanta together to tell simple & authentic photographic stories of their love for the city and the people that inhabit it.

This movement wasn’t part of a tourism marketing campaign, it was created by three people who love their city and want it to be represented beautifully on social media. All proceeds from print sales are donated to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

While the source of these two campaigns is wildly different, they both use the same tactic and are hoping for the same results. Both want to encourage personal pride in locals and draw visitors and business from other states.

Social media has expanded our bubbles far across state lines. Facebook has all but killed high school reunions, as people who are curious about how the prom king and head cheerleader turned out can just creep their profiles.

Other sites like Twitter and Tumblr are successful because they bring people together from far away. Tumblr users love that most of their followers are hundreds of miles away, it gives them security.

I did a little math (thank you TweepsMap) and discovered that 43% of my followers are in Florida and 44% are from different states (the remaining 13% are outside the US). This ratio is different for everyone, but the lesson is the same. When I tweet my love for Florida, a chunk of my followers feel pride for living in the sunshine state and another chunk wish they were here. These campaigns simultaneously build state pride and draw tourists.

Visit Florida sends their message home with a simple formula: 85 visitors = 1 job. The more Floridians that tweet their love for the state, the more people want to visit. The more people that visit, the more jobs are created for Floridians. We’re really helping ourselves by showing state pride.

The same applies to #WeLoveATL. The more people see the beautiful side of Atlanta, the more they will want to visit and invest there.

Word of mouth advertising is one of the most reliable forms of marketing out there. Visit Florida and the Atlanta photographers don’t need to talk about how awesome their cities are, the people will do it for them – and that will have a stronger impact.

About the author

Amanda Dodge