Social media has become an increasingly popular and effective communication tool for destinations over the past several years. And now more than ever, destination organizations are leaning into platforms like Facebook and Instagram to connect with their local communities. 

Keep reading to learn why Visit Phoenix decided to launch a weekly Instagram TV series, and how they’ve leveraged the photo- and video-sharing platform to not only share information with visitors and residents, but also strengthen their relationships with local stakeholders during COVID-19. 

Destination Q&A QuestionTell us about Visit Phoenix's “Wednesdays With You” IGTV series. What inspired you to launch this initiative?Visit Phoenix Instagram channel

Destination Q&A AnswerWednesdays With You is a weekly segment that airs Wednesday afternoons on Instagram Live, where a local business, figure or attraction takes over Visit Phoenix’s Instagram account to showcase an activity that viewers can participate in or view from home. The activities have included everything from an unboxing of veggies from a local farmer to penguins at the aquarium.

Since we knew our destination and our member businesses would not be seeing as much visitation compared to years past, we wanted to highlight some of our best features to keep the destination at top of mind. We loved what Discover Puerto Rico was doing with their Virtual Weekend series on Facebook Live, and thought that we should try something similar.

Instagram was an easy choice for a medium for this series — our Instagram page has seen consistent growth YoY, it’s a platform most of our member businesses are active on, and our community is very engaged there.

Destination Q&A QuestionHow has your community responded to Wednesday’s With You? 

Destination Q&A AnswerOur community has been pretty positive about the series: member businesses appreciate our efforts to highlight them, locals like that their favorite businesses are represented, and potential visitors are making plans to visit these businesses when they’re able. It works especially well when viewers — even our local community — are surprised about attractions they weren’t aware of, such as the Japanese Friendship Garden in downtown Phoenix.

Destination Q&A QuestionDo you think social media has been a more integral part of your marketing efforts over the past few months? Which platforms have you seen the most success on? 

Destination Q&A AnswerSocial media is always a valuable aspect of our marketing efforts, but it has taken an even more vital role in these past few months, no question. It’s one of the few places where we can share and receive information in a timely manner, and we’ve noticed that businesses in our destination are more likely to update their information on their social platforms rather than their website. Social media is just as important for us to learn information as it is to share it.

As far as organic content goes, Instagram has been our biggest success. Thanks to having such a visually unique and dynamic destination, we have seen consistent growth on the platform. Our audience is much more receptive to a beautiful image than anything else.

Destination Q&A QuestionWhat advice do you have for other destinations who are looking to utilize social media more effectively? 

Destination Q&A AnswerAt the end of the day, I love bragging about Phoenix, and I try to communicate that to our audience. I want our social platforms to be a love letter to our destination. The very nature of our industry is to attract visitors, and inspire a trip — at least from the leisure side. I try to keep that mindset when posting on social: every post should act as a little vacation for the audience, and that feeling is more important now than ever before. It’s also important to keep things dynamic. Every destination has its bread and butter (ours being cactus, for example), but it’s also important to show that there’s so many interesting things happening, even during a pandemic. 

The last thing I would say is that even though you’re representing a destination on social media, there is still a human being behind all those posts. You don’t have to talk like a robotic marketer. I’m just a guy who loves Phoenix, and that’s the vibe that I want to communicate through the language, sentiment and imagery I use on our social platforms.