Travelers have been hunkered down at home, forcing social media experts to pivot their strategy to resonate and keep connected with their audience. In fact, Facebook and Instagram have seen a 40% increase in usage during COVID-19, meaning now more than ever, brands need to be interacting with their audiences online.
In January 2020, Mower used the Hygiene, Hub, Hero content-development model to design a social media strategy for our client, Westchester County Tourism.
These three words have become the strategic framework for video content over the last few years, however, the strategy isn’t specific to video. The content-marketing framework was originally developed by Google as a guide for growing an audience on YouTube. But it has since proven so effective that businesses are applying it across all areas of their marketing strategies, including social media.
While brands have had to shift their approach to social media, the basic concepts for the hygiene, hub, hero model remain the same. Here’s how we used this approach to adjust Westchester County Tourism’s strategy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our primary goal with this account is to inspire followers to take a trip to Westchester County; therefore, our content is centered around travel inspiration.
This is general content which shows your audiences you’re an active business. For example, posting about events coming up in the area, beauty shots of the county’s scenery and fun facts about the community. The purpose of hygiene content is to show you’re actively participating with your online community. Hygiene posts are shared on an ongoing basis.
Obviously, it’s not business-as-usual for the travel industry right now, so hygiene content can be difficult to produce. We noticed that a lot of the county’s partners were organizing virtual tours and events, so promoting these virtual activities became our new hygiene content.
Simply listening and looking out for what’s happening in the community is a great way of building hygiene content, especially for a destination client. We noticed that a lot of local businesses in Westchester will tag us when communicating about their current (socially distanced) offers; pulling that information together and compiling it into a social post is an easy way of producing that everyday hygiene content, even during a hard-to-navigate experience like quarantine.
Example of our updated hygiene content
Hub content is serial-pushed content that taps into customer interests to build brand advocacy. This is the opportunity to create a content series for your brand. We’ve had a lot of fun with hub content for Westchester County, creating series like “Sunday Strolls,” “Partner Spotlights” and “5 Things to Do In…,” which have really improved engagement rates for the channels. Hub content is usually shared one to two times per week.
Thankfully, we have been able to continue our “Sunday Strolls” theme throughout the pandemic and have seen even more engagement and interaction with this series during this time. We spotlight areas around Westchester where visitors and locals can take a socially distanced Sunday Stroll. Given the circumstances surrounding the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders, people are itching to get out in nature. Westchester County is blessed to have some of the most beautiful trails and gardens in the country. Showcasing these areas inspires travelers who cannot access the area right now to mark it on their bucket list for future travel. (We’ve seen this from Instagram, where usage of the “saved” option on our images has increased 106% on our Sunday Stroll posts since the beginning of the year.)
We had to rethink our “Partner Spotlight” series to continue supporting our local partners while adjusting to the new normal. Usually, we would share a highlight reel of a hotel or restaurant, recommending a visit.
Instead, during the temporary closures, we reached out to some of the top bars and restaurants in the county and asked them to share recipes for their most popular cocktails and dishes—keeping partners relevant and connected to consumers while at home and, again, inspiring people to visit to try the real deal once the county reopens.
Example of the Sunday Stroll series
Example of the updated partner spotlight
Hygiene and hub content work steadily to build interest and engagement, but your hero content should have an outstanding impact. These are big moments with the power to create a spike in awareness. These kinds of posts build brand awareness with newer audiences that may never have heard of the product or service before. Examples of hero content include a viral video or a large seasonal campaign. Ideally, hero content is posted once a month.
For Westchester County, our hero moments are usually made up of beautiful videos encapsulating all of the breathtaking scenery in Westchester County or footage of unique offerings travelers can experience. Thankfully, we did not have to alter our hero content strategy too much because of the pandemic, as these posts inspire future travel.
Example of hero content—alpacas roaming around their farm in Westchester
Since we began implementing a hygiene, hub, hero strategy in January, engagement on Westchester’s social media channels, in particular Instagram, increased by 142%. As mentioned above, the “saved” feature has also seen an increase, showing that users are inspired by the content we are creating and keeping Westchester in mind for the future.
Since lockdown, total impressions across Westchester’s social channels has increased by 32%, demonstrating the need to continue creating inspiring content for followers, serving as a resource and a support network for the local community.
If you would like to learn more about implementing the Hygiene, Hub, Hero strategy and ways to use your clients’ social media to make ROI soar, check out this webinar by Matthew Babiarz, senior digital strategist at Mower.