The Opportunity

In 2015, South African Tourism (SAT) and Sparkloft Media debuted the influencer program #MeetSouthAfrica. While successful, SAT knew it was important to evolve the program to continue to tell a fresh story about the destination, not just rinse and repeat. To do so, Sparkloft Media reinvented the program in 2017 in three key ways:

  • Influencer scale

  • New immersive storytelling tactics

  • Facebook-specific retargeted ad strategy

Targeting North Americans with propensity to travel, we sought to drive awareness of #WowSouthAfrica and increase interest in travel to the destination, prompt choice in those travelers by leveraging the voices of hand-picked travel influencers and improve upon results from the 2015 tour as measured by engagement, reach and video views.

The Campaign

Sparkloft developed an influencer tour to leverage larger macro-influencers, new immersive social media technology and a Facebook video retargeting strategy to craft a compelling narrative about South Africa while blowing the previous campaign’s results out of the water. This is #WowSouthAfrica.

Scored against an extensive rubric, Sparkloft selected three influencers that could organically communicate their authentic travel experience through the lens of certain content pillars while seamlessly fitting within the SAT brand. We knew that creating static content would not immerse our target audience to fully experience a "wow" feeling. To make sure we effectively communicated the emotion South Africa elicits, we developed an in-depth pre-production book, outlining a series of storyboards that informed various 360º videos, Instagram Story takeovers, videos, mood boards and shot lists. Taking this pre-production book across the Atlantic, we traveled for 10 days alongside our influencers to capture a series of video and photo content, focused on their real-time reactions to the destination.

Thus, a fashion blogger (@SimplyCyn), adventurer (@ASenseofHuber) and photographer (@Charissa_Fay) took off on an epic journey of South Africa, to experience bungee jumping, wild safari game drives, urban farmers markets and seaside hikes. Focusing on their respective content pillars, these influencers captured photo, video and Instagram Story content throughout the entire journey. As an extension of their own content, the influencers starred in a series of highlight (:60), micro-moment (:15) and 360º videos to showcase their #WowSouthAfrica experiences from their perspectives. By documenting the journey to create a video series, we were able to extend the life of the campaign beyond the tour dates.

The Strategy

We leveraged Facebook’s sophisticated targeting and retargeting platform to optimize this campaign. A content distribution strategy was developed to not only mimic the user journey but also improve engagement and cost per engagement over time. From awareness/interest of the destination to positive affinity and action, we used a retargeting paid media strategy to deliver content pieces in line with travel cycle. Video content promoted via interest targeting and then retargeted the active viewers of those videos with photo and website content as a second touchpoint to encourage both affinity and action. This resulted in higher engagement, increased completed video views and more efficient ad spends.

Throughout the tour and for six months after returning back to the U.S., the influencers share photos of their experiences on their own channels to keep the story going. This sponsored content combined with 95% of media focusing on Facebook, Instagram and supporting buys on Twitter + YouTube extended the reach of the campaign.

Results

This campaign pushed the #WowSouthAfrica message and the influencers’ stories for more than six months and resulted in nearly 4 million video views and more than 34 million impressions across all platforms. These results demonstrate our strategic shifts contributed to surpassing the benchmark set by the previous program and the goals we set at the beginning of the campaign.  As of December 2017, arrivals from the United States showed impressive growth with a 7.5% year-to-date increase, while arrivals from Canada showed 9.8% growth year-on-year.  

  • Total engagement: 521,139 (+387% increase)

  • Influencer-produced engagements: 246,454

  • Total video views: 3,951,760 (+680% increase)

  • Completed views: (Facebook Only): 985,799 views @100%