In January I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in a unique blogging project we named the Barbados Blogathon. Spearheaded by Elite Island Resorts the idea was to work with bloggers to generate exposure for their hotel, The Club Barbados Resort and Spa, in an engaging and sustained campaign throughout the month of January.
Usually when bloggers are invited to take part in a project of this sort they are all invited to the destination at the same time and ferried around the same activities. The result is a lot of noise generated on social media about the exact same thing. Whilst not particularly engaging for an audience, many of whom may be following more than one of the bloggers involved, it also misses a key point about the way bloggers work. Karen Tippett, PR for The Club Barbados, recognised that bloggers work best when left to their own devices. They write more content and with more passion when they are left to find their own stories, according to their own tastes and that of their audience, and not just pushed towards the parts of the resort the client is looking to promote.
So for this project Karen got in touch with myself and 3 other bloggers with separate interests – Matt and Deb from Travel With A Mate who cover couples travel, Abigail King from Inside the Travel Lab who has an adventurous streak and Niamh from Eat Like A Girl who is a well-respected foodie blogger. In conjunction with Tropical Sky, who sponsored the flights, and Barbados Tourism, who came on board to help with some onsite activities, Karen worked with the bloggers individually to create an itinerary unique to their interests and specialities. She also left enough time on the agenda for us to actually be able to blog (shocking how often this is forgotten!) and made sure that we essentially enjoyed a holiday in the normal way guests to the resort would.
Throughout January the bloggers arrived in the resort one at a time, each ‘team’ arriving a week apart with one day overlap in resort to hand on the ‘baton’. Using the unique hashtag #bdosblogathon all participants labelled their tweets in a way that could be followed and measured. The conversations about the resort were happening long before some of the participants even arrived. As someone who took part in the third week I could gather hints and tips from the bloggers there before me and enjoyed the interaction with their trip before mine began. My readers could also dip into the tweets and content coming from the other bloggers because I had told them about the hashtag, enabling them to get a different perspective from my own on the place.
Apart from generating a plethora of unique content about the resort over a period of 4 weeks, from 4 different voices, and at a usually miserable time of year, what was the ROI (return of investment) of this project? The results speak for themselves:
- 20 posts/features (target 12) reaching 242,500 unique views and generating 1,193,000 page views during campaign
- 394 Tweets with a total follower count of 56,920
- 113 Facebook posts to reach of 8,438
- 73 Instagram posts to a reach of 1,833
- 18 Posts on Pinterest to a reach of 2,836
- Uplifts of up to 50% on Elite and resort social media accounts
- Uplifts of up to 43% on participating blogger sites during the activity
From a personal perspective this is the perfect type of project to be involved in. Not only did I enjoy a week in Barbados but I could also bring sunny content to my readers in my own personal way. My follower numbers and blog page views saw a huge spike in January, a direct result of the Barbados content and the interaction and incoming links generated by working alongside the other bloggers and project sponsors.
But the great thing for all concerned? The resulting content is permanent. The exposure generated in January was just the start for The Club Barbados. My thoughts on their resort (and those of my blogathon teammates) continue to be read and shared everyday.