Money & Business

#LAstory: How Discover Los Angeles Won Instagram

By / Jul 15, 2014 (screenshot from @discoverla on Instagram)

The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board’s recent ad campaign “What’s Your L.A. Story?” got a lot of traction on social media. The secret? The group latched on to the “underground economy” of influencers on Instagram.

It’s like modeling, except with selfies.

And for one convention and visitors bureau, it meant a lot of impact for its latest advertising campaign. More on how the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, through its Discover Los Angeles brand, used photos from the Instagram-famous to pitch its message:

“Instagram-famous”? Yes, it’s a thing. As CNBC highlighted back in April, there’s a cottage industry of widely followed people on the social network whom advertisers tap—and pay—to promote a message to followers. The influencer may send out a hashtag on a particular theme, for example, or post photos in which he or she wears a particular brand of clothing. One agency that connects brands with influencers,  The Mobile Media Lab, grew out of a community of Instagram users in New York City. In comments to Fortune, agency cofounder Anthony Danielle explained that the idea for the firm came after big-name brands noticed how popular he and friend Brian DiFeo were on Instagram and started asking the duo to promote their products on the site. “Brian and I turned the tables,” Danielle said. “We said to the brands, let us educate you on how the platform works because we know what’s going to be best for you.”

What Discover L.A. did: The CVB, working with the ad agency HEILBrice, combined its more traditional TV and print advertising efforts for its “What’s Your L.A. Story?” brand push with an Instagram campaign. Here’s how it worked: Key influencers’ photos, tagged with #LAStory (many taken during a tour of the Getty Villa in Los Angeles), were projected onto the walls of the J. Paul Getty Museum during a concert series in the facility. In other words, in exchange for posting photos with a hashtag, the users got their art displayed in one of the world’s most famous art museums—not a bad trade. According to Skift, the CVB worked with 15 influencers, including Rosewood Creative‘s Matt Bauer (whose work is shown above), to get the message out.

The impact: The deal gave the CVB access to Instagram users with tens of thousands of followers—some with many more. (One user, photographer Jessica Zollman, has more than 234,000 followers.) And the huge impact of the posts helped drive significant organic social traffic to the campaign. According to Skift, the campaign generated 25 million organic social media impressions, half of which were driven directly by the influencers.

Would your association consider working with an Instagram influencer to push out your message? Tell us how you might do it in the comments.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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