Visit Philly Lets Locals Create Content

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) which promotes travel to Philadelphia, is letting select locals post their own images to its Instagram and Pinterest accounts.

The initiative calls on these residents to promote new sides of Philadelphia and show off neighborhoods through their own eyes.

After a guest Instagram pilot program with photographer Dave Maialetti on April 5 and 6, GPTMC, which is also known as Visit Philly, is expanding the program to spotlight neighborhoods featured in its Philadelphia Neighborhoods campaign. As the name implies, Philadelphia Neighborhoods encourages visitors to explore Philadelphia and includes a new dedicated section on the Visit Philly website. This section also includes user-generated content that feeds into the site via Instagram and Foursquare, enabling users to see what other visitors are doing. The upcoming guest Instagram images will also help populate the page’s Instagram feed.

As a result of the pilot with Maialetti, @VisitPhilly saw 10 percent growth in Instagram followers, says Caroline Bean, director of social media at GPTMC. She also says @VisitPhilly saw good interaction in comments on the network during Maialetti’s stint.

Now, three additional residents will document neighborhoods in two-day stretches. Guest Instagrammers include: Conrad Benner, a blogger and photographer at who has nearly 4,000 followers and covered the Northern Liberties neighborhood from April 13 to 14; photographer Neal Santos, who has more than 18,000 followers on Instagram and will cover Spruce Hill from April 16 to 18 and Cedar Park from May 7 to 9; and designer Mike Smith, who has 2,900 followers on Instagram and will photograph Fairmount from May 18 to 19.

These guest users “literally take the reins,” Bean says. They are given Visit Philly’s log-in details and post photos and comments directly, along with their handles and related hashtags.

The guest Instagrammers are given general guidelines about the spirit of the campaign, but Bean says Visit Philly doesn’t want to “hamper their artistic vision.”

In addition, Bean says it’s likely Visit Philly will eventually expand this guest program beyond neighborhoods to focus on food, festivals and the like.

What’s more, for a month starting April 15, Visit Philly is also enlisting Philadelphia-based Jeanine Hays, the creative director and founder of AphroChic interior design company and blog, to post design-centric Philadelphia pins on the Visit Philly Pinterest account.

GPTMC notes home decor and design is one of the most popular topics on Pinterest. Further, it says Hays is a “prolific and talented Pinterest user” with nearly 9,000 followers that it hopes to convert to Visit Philly followers as a result of this promotion.

So far, Hays has put up 12 pins on the Visit Philly Guest Pinner board.

Bean says Visit Philly will post additional pins on Pinterest while Hays is posting because it has 20 other boards on the site.

In the meantime, Visit Philly is gaining exposure from guests like Hays as they promote the partnership from their own social networks.

“It’s great because we get a whole new set [of potential followers] that haven’t been aware of us,” Bean says.

In fact, Visit Philly saw a 13% bump in followers after Benner’s photos on Northern Liberties were posted on Instagram, she says.

Visit Philly’s main target is visitors, although Bean says the organization likes to keep the definition loose.

“If we have a resident in Fishtown and they have never been to East Passyunk, we would love it if they went and checked out a new neighborhood and [we] would consider that a win,” she adds.

After launching in January 2012, Visit Philly’s Pinterest account has 3,400 followers.

And, after launching in October 2012, the @VisitPhilly Instagram account has about 2,900 followers.

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