Creating ambassadors through Instagram – the #InstatripLV experience

2015 – the year we finally joined Instagram. Having no immediate budget to invest in ad
solutions or hiring an agency, we concluded that human to human marketing was the way to
go if we wanted any chance of recognition in the huge pool of competition among
destinations. Therefore @enjoylatvia has been built entirely on user generated content.

The very beginning – manual labour

Before #enjoylatvia became a recognised and popular hashtag in Latvia, we did a lot of
manual digging on Instagram to find images and personally contact their authors for
permission to repost. This approach resulted in gaining the trust of key Instagrammers in
Latvia. They took us seriously, there was no spammy behaviour. #enjoylatvia started to gain ground, ensuring us a constant stream of quality content from
which to select images to repost on @enjoylatvia.

The birth of #InstatripLV

We saw a clear community developing around the hashtag and decided to tap into it. The
Instagrammers using #enjoylatvia had a focus on the outdoors, on discovering and exploring
places that could be considered “off the beaten path”. They were the kind of people who
don’t fear getting up before sunrise to chase that perfect shot.

Our idea was super simple – to invite the Instagrammers on a trip to generate a joint photo
story and promote lesser known sites and attractions in Latvia. We knew that through these
partnerships we stood to gain a much wider and international audience, and admitted that it
wasn’t even so important if the audience became followers of @enjoylatvia. The fact that
they were exposed to content about Latvia via influencers they follow and trust was the
main point.

The first trip had a combined following of 17 000 which grew to 221 000 on the last trip we
held in summer 2017. Considering the small investment in the trips (transport, accommodation and meals), this is very good value for money.

In terms of planning the trips, we started by contacting the participants by DM on Instagram.
Our first one-day trip ended up being rushed because we’d planned it more like a traditional
press trip rather than a photography tour – we didn’t have enough time in each location, we
didn’t visit the right places at the right times of day in terms of daylight and we didn’t have
enough technical know-how about indoor photography.

Fortunately, we were open to feedback and got more than we could have hoped for that
allowed us to really up our game for the next edition.

#InstatripLV enhanced by adding videographer and international expertise

Subsequent trips have been two to three days long and we’ve involved a photographer and
videographer in the planning stages to assist us with putting together the route and
understanding timings.

Adding a videographer to the mix has been a great money saver because the Instagrammers
are happy to double as actors in the social-first videos. Our last video has been watched
90 000 times on Facebook alone.

Last year, we invited Conor MacNeill (@thefella) to join an #InstatripLV and do a talk for the
local Instagram community to add an educational and experience-sharing element to the
project.

We treasure each partnership we’ve developed and maintain regular communication with
all the Instagrammers who’ve been involved so far. We also actively monitor the community
to identify possible new collaborators. They all form our pool of ambassadors for Latvian
tourism, providing regular, quality content.

The content is equally useful to us outside the social media environment. Videos form an
important part of our destination presentations and the photos (to which we buy rights)
keep our promo materials up-to- date.

@enjoylatvia may still not boast a huge amount of followers but we maintain a high level of
quality and have started to experiment with advertising. The audience is largely based in
Latvia so we focus on promoting regional tourism, providing weekend tips and insider
suggestions. We strongly believe that happy and proud locals with a travelling spirit are key
to product development and happy tourists.

Until now we’ve held an #InstatripLV for Estonian Instagrammers as well as Latvians. Parallel
to the trips, we work a lot with international influencers who do Stories takeovers and work
across other platforms.

Future plans involve giving exclusive opportunities

We have plans for trips involving both the local community and Instagrammers from our
target markets. Our future focus is on promoting newly established attractions and giving
our key ambassadors more and more exclusive opportunities to be the first to visit
something, break the news on Instagram, and to develop their skills through learning from
each other and international experts.

 

 

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About the author

PING Helsinki on vaikuttajamediatoimisto, joka tuo yhteen vaikuttajat eri kanavista ja kaikilta toimialoilta. PING Helsingin kautta vaikuttajayhteistyön suunnittelu on helppoa ja tuloksellista olipa kysymys H2H Strategiasta, vaikuttaja-analyysista, kampanjasta, konseptoinnista, kilpailusta tai elämyksistä. PING Helsinki pitää yllä kaikille avointa somevaikuttajien eettistä koodistoa ja tekee jatkuvaa vaikuttajamarkkinoinnin tutkimusta.