Branding a destination today increasingly requires digging into a complex range of physical, emotional, and aesthetic characteristics, from unique local architecture, to attractions and the ever more important, people that give the destination its local character and flavor. Visit Santa Barbara wanted to tap into its local passion and share that unique feeling of being in Santa Barbara to inspire new audiences to add the destination as part of their consideration set.
SBstory is a multi-year campaign effort. In 2014, the campaign focused on generating social media photos and stories from passionate fans and locals in Santa Barbara. The goal was to build a rich content library and to find new ways to tell the Santa Barbara story to highly targeted audiences on social media. The campaign focused on stimulating engagement and conversation around the #SBstory hashtag.
Following the success of the 2014 campaign, Sparkloft and Visit Santa Barbara re-engineered the concept in 2015 and created a concept with a hopefully deeper emotional resonance that would inspire new visitors. We uncovered three promising Santa Barbara locals and built a four episode social media series highlighting their lives and passions. What connected all three individuals was that they made something in Santa Barbara that a visitor could experience.
The video storytelling strategy went beyond simply interviewing locals and showcasing highlight reel locations. Consumers are skeptical of overly branded video content that is all gloss and no passion. To trigger a deeper bond with viewers Sparkloft and Visit Santa Barbara crafted a series of brand principles to guide the story crafting process, including:
Viewers watch and engage with the videos because they like the story, the characters, and the payoff. In order to generate viewership, engagement, and inspiration, destination takes a backseat to the story and becomes the set. The main characters are the people that give the destination its passion.
Authenticity is key. We partnered with locals to tell their stories in their own unique and engaging way. Their passion, experience, and ideas have to be authentic.
The key to engaging storytelling is going beyond broadcasting and informing. To make the videos resonate the stories needed to activate the emotions of the viewer.
Telling the story was half the strategy. Reaching the right audience was also fundamentally important so our planning shifted from art to science. Sparkloft created a highly targeted, segmented video advertising strategy that exploited current social trends. At the time of the series launch, Facebook was working hard to overtake YouTube as the largest social video platform on the web. The result was an opportunity to generate exceptionally low cost targeted reach on Facebook.
Sparkloft and Visit Santa Barbara also developed a teaser and timed release strategy to build interest and anticipation among social fans as each episode was released. Each video was promoted before launch with Instagram teasers, and post launch additional segments featured “leftover” footage that was posted to the content plan.
At the end of the campaign, social posts asked users to continue the conversation and share their own #SBstory
At the beginning of campaign, Visit Santa Barbara and Sparkloft set a goal to focus on generating reach and most efficient targeted cost-per-view of the video series. The campaign successfully generated 1.6 million impressions and generated more than 540,000 organic and paid video views during its four week run. The video advertising optimization and targeting strategy generated an impressive Facebook cost per view of $.01 and $.012 cost-per-view on Youtube.