November 20, 2014
Case Study

Social Media Marketing: Visit Detroit sees 4 million Twitter impressions with social media campaign to win USA Today award

SUMMARY: One of the most valuable aspects of social media is the ability to quickly put a campaign into action — and to big effect.

When Detroit had the opportunity to be named the "Best Sports City" by USA Today 10Best Readers' Choice, the team at Visit Detroit put together a campaign across multiple social media channels to rally fans and put the city in the top spot.
by Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content


There are two aspects to the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, where Dan Fuoco, Interactive Marketing Manager, handles social media.

The first is Visit Detroit, which aims to attract leisure visitors to different city destinations, and the other is Meet Detroit, which focuses on bringing conventions, expos and other events into the city.

Bolstering the city's reputation is a big proponent of both sides, and when Fuoco saw an opportunity to highlight one of Detroit's most positive attributes — being a passionate sports town — on a national platform, he knew it was an opportunity for both areas.


Seven days after the contest launched, Fuoco received an email from the public relations manager detailing how Detroit was on the ballot for USA Today 10Best Readers' Choice for Best Sports City.

After voting himself, he realized that it would take some real focus and a campaign to get Detroit to the number one slot, above Indianapolis.

"Everyone here knows that we have a strong loyalty to sports and we have a strong fan base, so we said, let's put it on social media and have them help vote … I figured we had a good fan base and we should put it to the test," he said.

With the voting running through the month of September, Fuoco had a short amount of time to launch a social media campaign to drive people to vote for Detroit in order for it to be effective.

"Second place to a city that doesn't even have a professional hockey team and professional baseball team. I know that Indianapolis [is] home of the Indianapolis 500. I understand is a giant sports base, but we're talking about four major sports in the U.S. Looking at it that way, we were losing to a team that didn't have two of those sports, so I wasn't going to let that happen," he said.


Fuoco created a social media campaign focusing mainly on Facebook and Twitter, but also utilized Pinterest, Instagram and Google Plus. He reached out to influencers in the city, and the sports sphere, to help spread the word. He also made sure to engage followers, while not bothering or oversaturating them with reminders to vote.

Step #1. Gather high profile support

Initially, Fuoco put out a couple of quick posts on Twitter and Facebook to promote voting and make the audience aware of the competition. He also contacted the four main professional sports organizations in Detroit to gather their support as well as other major community members.

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"I sent them each an email, and I was talking about the voting that was taking place, and I mentioned that we were going to spearhead this campaign, we're looking for your support, if you could put it anywhere on your social media that would be great," he said.

He mentioned in the email that he was reaching out to all the other Detroit sports teams, and with their permission, he would create a graphic that would have the team represented on it alongside the official USA Today 10Best logo on it.

Creating the graphic would help make sharing the story easier for the teams while creating a unified approach to the competition, Fuoco said. He also provided the link as well as a vanity URL.

"They all bought in right away. They were all up for it, and all of them at least helped on social media," he said, adding that one team even mentioned the contest in its newsletter.

"I knew that we have a pretty good fan base, but we're just the visitor's bureau, and sports is international, so if I can tap into their fan bases ... whatever platform, then I have that much more leverage in exposing this balloting or this voting process," he said.

The teams shared intermittently, he said, and Fuoco noticed that Visit Detroit tweets that mentioned or tagged different Detroit sports teams also achieved better reach.

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"Even though all three tweets had the photo attached to the tweet, the one with the four teams that were tagged always seemed to be doing better. That's just kind of reinforcing that those teams are probably behind it … and people are interested in that," he said.

Step #2. Don't oversaturate audience

Fuoco used a social media tool to schedule out content, setting up the frequency to be mentioned once a day on Facebook and three times a day on Twitter. He created three different messages, so the same ones didn't post in a row.

"I was able to track the statistics to see how much social reach we had, or what the engagement was by day, and then if I had to shift it based on the data, then I was able to do so," he said.

At one point, around the 18 of the month, Fuoco saw engagement rates decreasing alongside campaign reach, and he felt like he was saturating the audience too much. To rectify this, he pulled back slightly on the sends.

"Campaign reach was at an average of just under 400,000 for Twitter reach, and then it kind of just dropped off, and it's all below 200,000, close to 150,000," he said.

He paused the campaign because "I didn't want to upset anyone because, really, you're dealing with people here when you're creating these marketing campaigns. You want to be cognizant of what's happening, who you're talking to."

By reorganizing the posts to go up at a later date, Fuoco said there was a spike in engagement on the 24 of the month because "people weren't so inundated with all the information back to back."

Step #3. Utilize various social media platforms

Fuoco used other platforms sporadically throughout the campaign, using Pinterest, Instagram and Google Plus.

They posted the graphic with a link to the voting page, while tagging all city sports teams in the body of the posts.

The Pinterest post was pinned onto the "Detroit Publicity" board, and the Instagram post hashtagged "Detroit," "10Best," "DetroitSports" and "NumberOne."

Respond to followers whenever possible

A big part of growing this campaign, Fuoco said, was responding back to people who commented or tweeted back.

"I would retweet as much as I could to get double exposure, and I did get a lot of people saying 'voted' or 'done' or 'got this' or 'take a look' or sent it to other people. There was a wide variation of different tweets that came back or people interacting," he said.

Usually it wasn't much, he said, but responding was an acknowledgement that said, "I see that you're posting about this, that it's sports related toward Detroit, and I'm behind you."


"Detroiters are resilient, and Detroiters are loyal, and if they see something, they'll help you out in any way they can. I've noticed that with some of the different approaches and different things that I've done with marketing the region … They will be behind that and help in whatever way they can and oftentimes accomplish the goal, just like they did in this situation," Fuoco said.

Not only was Detroit voted Best Sports City by the USA Today 10Best poll, but Visit Detroit was able to see:
  • Over four million Twitter impressions

  • Over 6,000 clickthroughs on Twitter

The biggest part of this campaign, Fuoco said, is the support he saw from the people of Detroit and the sports leaders in the city.

"I can't remember a time when something was asked, whether it was from me or from a different Detroit organization, and that ask was not accomplished. So, I can say that there's extreme loyalty and dedication for this region," he said.

For the future, Fuoco is developing a gift guide for the holidays and is trying to "figure out a way to tap into this community to both get them aware of this gift guide that we have but then also kind of share what's happening and be involved, rather than just promote something on behalf of Visit Detroit."

Creative Samples

  1. Facebook post

  2. Visit Detroit creative

  3. Tweet mentioning teams

  4. Pinterest post

  5. Google Plus post

  6. Win announcement


Visit Detroit

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