Case study: Zero-cost local authority campaign drives engagement on social media

A zero-cost campaign-within-a-campaign to highlight the beauty and business opportunities of North Tyneside resulted in a huge uplift in public engagement on social media.

This picture of St Mary's Lighthouse was the most shared during the council's '100 things' campaign
This picture of St Mary's Lighthouse was the most shared during the council's '100 things' campaign

The campaign, "100 things we love about North Tyneside", saw North Tyneside Council showcase 100 unique things about the region via photographs run simultaneously on three social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – between 1 January and 10 April.

Posts covered different aspects of the borough and targeted three main groups: businesses, residents and visitors.

Each post included the image, the hashtag #NT100, and a "social handshake" to any business or organisation involved in the profiled item.

The campaign grew out of the local authority's place branding exercise "We are North Tyneside", begun in September last year.

The campaign set out to define the area's offer, challenge misconceptions and promote its unique selling points.

The first three months of the "We are North Tyneside" campaign, from September 2016, performed well, the local authority said, but it had a limited budget for continuing into the new year.

Dawn Tindle, comms and marketing manager at North Tyneside Council, said: "We were facing 2017 with a limited budget, an online audience and lots still to talk about. So, what next?"

The solution was to devise the "100 things" campaign to sit inside the main push to promote North Tyneside.

The council sought to pinpint the area's highlights, Cullercoats BayThe council used images from previous PR work and free stock images

The biggest challenge the council comms team faced was deciding on what the "100 things" in question should be and then finding a good quality image of it.

They took the approach of using the council's photographic library, images captured for previous PR work and free stock images, where appropriate.

The "100 things" included beaches and iconic buildings, as well as picking out more mundane aspects of the borough, which are nonetheless part of its identity.

Tindle said: "The importance of photography was evident in our performance figures. The best-performing posts on all platforms were those with striking images of our unique landscapes."

Cobalt Business Park was one of the '100 things' selected by the councilThe "100 things" included beaches and iconic buildings

The outcome of the project was that there were 80 per cent more visits to the council's Twitter handle in the first month of 100-day campaign, to 780, while new followers increased by 114 per cent, impressions by 155 per cent and mentions by other Twitter users by 123 per cent, compared with the three months to December 2016.

In January, the council put on 110 new followers compared to an average of 40 per month in the previous three months.

Tindle said the campaign worked particularly well on Twitter, and that March was the best-performing month, with 15,000 more Twitter impressions for tweets than in January.

She concluded: "We started to see businesses sharing our content or tagging us in their news and updates. While the campaign took a lot of time to set up and deliver over the 100 days, it was certainly worth it.

"There were no delivery costs and the engagement we received was the push 'We are North Tyneside' needed to start 2017 with a bang."


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