This past year has seen a tremendous push by branding professionals both here at Macalester and in the state to update advertising. They are harnessing the power of social media to highlight the great aspects of attending Macalester and living in Minnesota.
Earlier this year, Minnesota’s tourism office, Explore Minnesota, hired Colle + McVoy, a Minneapolis advertising agency, to create a new tourism plan for the state. What they came up with was a beautiful, modern campaign that captured the spirit of Minnesota and the tremendous diversity in experiences it offers.
Beyond the scope of video and radio advertising, Explore Minnesota utilized the popularity of hashtags and viral social media campaigns to broaden the campaign. Pushing #exploremn and #onlyinmn, the Explore Minnesota campaign gained immediate traction. Overnight, the campaign evolved from exclusively paid radio and TV advertisements to viral Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts.
Instagram, in particular, allows users to simply search one of the hashtags to find a beautiful collection of user-created photos showcasing Minnesota life. Photos of the Boundary Waters were juxtaposed with a delicious meal at a St. Paul restaurant. The list of places goes on and on.
Today, Minnesotans and visitors to the state have posted over 30,000 photos with the hashtag #onlyinmn and 42,000 with the hashtag #exploremn. These numbers, which grow by the day, prove that tourism advertising is no longer exclusive to paid radio and television campaigns in neighboring states. They are a hybrid of both paid and social media-driven advertising, allowing people to feel a part of all the things that Minnesota has to offer. Social media serves as a platform with which residents can discover new places in Minnesota, potentially inspiring them to explore the state further.
Macalester has, to a lesser extent, found a way to harness the power of social media to curate all the many wonderful things that go on at Macalester. Over the summer, Macalester launched Mac Social, a site that aggregates all Twitter and Instagram posts with the hashtag #heymac. You probably already know this, as it’s been quite popular amongst students, from posting photos of the mock border fence or photos of the beautiful fall colors around campus.
What does this mean though, for exploring place through social media? Mac Social, similar to the Explore Minnesota campaign, allows users to post photos of beautiful places in real time. It allows people to see what is happening elsewhere in Minnesota with a few clicks. Places are no longer exclusively experienced through first-hand visits. They are viewed from anywhere. But most importantly, being able to see these places instantly may persuade people to take that extra day trip or explore a new place, city or school. These phenomena enhance our appreciation of the many places and experiences that both Minnesota and Macalester offer, making all of our lives richer and more beautiful.