Episode 255: Establishing a Sense of Community by Using Branded Content

By Emily Christman on May 05, 2023

In today’s digital age, destination marketing organizations (DMOs) are facing increasing competition for attention from potential visitors. In order to stand out from the crowd and build a strong and devoted audience, DMOs need to find ways to create a sense of community around their destinations. Over the past few weeks, Visit Myrtle Beach CMO Stuart Butler and I have been discussing a powerful strategy to build their audience and foster a sense of community: leveraging branded content. 

Branded content is a type of owned media that is created with the goal of promoting a brand. However, branded content can be much more than just a sales pitch. When done well, branded content can be informative, entertaining and even thought-provoking. Branded content can be a podcast, YouTube series, blog or even a television show. 

By blending storytelling with brand messaging, DMOs can connect with travelers on a deeper level, fostering a sense of trust and loyalty. It can also be a powerful tool for building relationships with potential visitors and creating a sense of community around a destination. There are many ways that DMOs can use branded content to build their audiences and establish a sense of community. Here are a few examples:

Showcasing Local Experiences:

One of the key ways DMOs can utilize branded content is by showcasing the unique local experiences and attractions of their destination. By partnering with local shareholders, DMOs can create authentic and captivating narratives that highlight the destination’s hidden gems, cultural traditions and insider tips. Don’t think of this as advertising, think of this as showing off what people love about your destination. This approach not only establishes the DMO as an authority but also sparks curiosity and compels travelers to explore further.

Engaging User-Generated Content:

A vibrant community is built on the involvement and contributions of its members. DMOs can harness the power of user-generated content (UGC) to foster community engagement. Encouraging travelers to share their experiences, photos and stories of your destination using branded hashtags or specific campaigns can amplify their reach while creating a sense of belonging. DMOs can curate and showcase the best UGC on their website, social media channels, or even in promotional materials, further reinforcing the community spirit.

Facilitating Interactive Platforms:

An engaged audience is a loyal audience. To establish a sense of community, DMOs can create interactive platforms that enable direct engagement between travelers, locals and the DMO itself. For example, hosting live Q&A sessions, virtual tours or social media contests can facilitate real-time conversations, encouraging participants to share their knowledge, experiences, and recommendations. These initiatives not only provide valuable insights for potential travelers but also foster a genuine sense of community among participants.

Collaborating with Influencers:

A good way to build your audience is to collaborate with those with established audiences. With the rise of social media, Influencer collaborations have become a powerful tool in destination marketing. By partnering with popular personalities who resonate with your target niches, DMOs can extend their reach and build credibility. Whether it’s through sponsored trips, authentic storytelling or user-generated campaigns, influencers and content creators can leverage their platforms to promote the destination and foster a sense of community. Authenticity and alignment with the DMO’s values are essential in selecting the right influencers to ensure genuine engagement.

In an increasingly interconnected world, DMOs must adapt their marketing strategies to build and nurture an engaged audience. These branded content approaches help establish a sense of community, foster engagement and ultimately attract travelers seeking unique and authentic experiences.