Part I: Background info on South Mountain Partnership
The South Mountain Partnership is a regional, landscape-scale conservation project in south-central Pennsylvania. Launched in 2006, the Partnership operates as a public-private partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and has grown into an alliance of citizens, businesses, nonprofits, academic institutions, and local, state and federal government agencies and officials collaborating to envision and secure a sustainable future for the South Mountain landscape.
Known for its natural beauty, rich history, thriving agriculture, and outdoor recreation, the South Mountain region of south-central Pennsylvania is a gorgeous place to call home. We recently collaborated with South Mountain Partnership to showcase this breathtaking region as well as SMP’s vital work to conserve and sustain all that makes the area unique.
Part I: The challenge they were facing
South mountain wanted to raise awareness of their organization and their primary message:
The South Mountain landscape is home and is the place where we are forming memories that last a lifetime.
South Mountain had a moderate level of brand equity and awareness in the local marketplace, but really had no way of showcasing their work to compel engagement from potential partners or customers. The video and its unique story became an integral component of engaging and expanding South Mountain’s regional influence.
Part III: Our solution(s)
As South Mountain described their long-term organizational goals and dreams, we knew that video would become an integral component of any campaign that we partnered on. What better way to showcase the beauty of the terrain other than through an experiential video-focused initiative!
We titled the video “This is Where we Live,” because we wanted to create an entry point for local partners and customers to step into. We literally wanted them to have a sense of pride in their local environment, where they live, and the beauty of the landscape all around them.
We also worked with South Mountain to craft an intentional, deliberate outreach campaign to leverage their unique story and video across a variety of channels to the greatest extent possible. The campaign was initiated on June 30th to build anticipation and excitement for the official video release (Tuesday, July 14th). The campaign was structured around social media and more traditional (website, e-newsletter) outreach channels. It included a concerted effort to engage the DCNR partner network to likewise spread word of the upcoming video through their appropriate channels.
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Part IV: The Results
1. The South Mountain Partnership Facebook page sees dramatic increase in followers.
The South Mountain Partnership’s Facebook page is an active platform that they use to engage a general public audience within the South Mountain landscape. At the outset of the “This is Where We Live” campaign on June 30th, the SMP Facebook page had 568 “likes;” by the conclusion of the campaign on July 21st, their Facebook page had 744 “likes.”
In the three-week campaign, this is an increase in followers of 176; this represents a 31% growth in followers during the campaign.
2. The “This is Where We Live” video goes “viral” on social media.
The full “This is Where We Live” video was officially released on Tuesday, July 14th via Facebook and our SMP Website. Facebook’s “Insight” metrics underscores the significant attention this video post received:
- Post Reach of 15,560 (note: typical SMP Facebook post is generally in the 100-500 range)
- 268 “Likes,” including 46 direct to the SMP post
- 51 comments, including 9 direct to the SMP post
- 99 shares, including 95 direct to the SMP post
- Further, the video was viewed 4,400 times; this number is perhaps a touch misleading, but luckily Facebook’s Insight metrics provides an opportunity for more detailed analysis. Of those 4,400 views, 879 lasted at least 30 seconds in length, and fully 10% of viewers (approximately 440) watched the video in its entirety (~2 minutes and 30 seconds).
- Across the three-week period of the campaign, a total of 11 posts were made to the SMP Facebook page, with a cumulative total reach of 23,869
3. Social media engagement drives users to the South Mountain Partnership website.
Though this campaign was structured primarily through social media, the hope was that social media traffic would translate to the South Mountain website, which now serves as the foundation for their organizational communication efforts. This was largely realized. During the three-week campaign, South Mountain had 472 user sessions on our website. On Tuesday, July 14th (video launch date) our website hosted 106 user sessions, of which 70 were via the newly created internal page housing the video; on Wednesday, July 15th our website hosted 115 user sessions, with 73 via the internal video page. These days mark the two highest single-day uses since their website went live in January.
In the three week period directly preceding the three-week “This is Where We Live” campaign, their website received 196 user sessions (highest single day: 20). Thus, this campaign brought 276 additional user sessions to our website, which represents an increase in traffic of 140%.
4. The Partnership gains credibility within partner network with the success of the video.
Because the South Mountain Partnership is a collaborative enterprise, their team is continually thinking about their communication strategies from an internal and external perspective. The video we created for the South Mountain team was primarily focused on external communications (i.e. engaging the general public) but its impact as a vehicle for internal communication (i.e. engaging our partner network) was profound as well.
This campaign garnered the Partnership significant credibility within their partner network. The final product was uniformly deemed highly impressive – see below for specific comments/feedback.
A couple of other points of impact are worth underscoring here too – first, the campaign offered a concrete “ask” (i.e., help us promote the upcoming release of this video) with which to approach and activate their partner network; second, the video served as a vehicle to hone and reinforce a message – the South Mountain landscape as home – that the South Mountain team has been trying to solidify more concrete for some time.
5. Specific feedback from within the South Mountain Partnership partner network included the following
“It’s SO good!! It gives me chills!!! I’m proud to have been a part of it. I hope it serves the South Mountain well. It certainly makes me proud to say I live here! Thanks so much!!”
—Hollabaugh family member, manager of Hollabaugh Farm Market (note: portions of “This is Where We Live” were filmed at the Hollabaugh Farm Market).
—SMP Leadership Committee member
“Beautiful video! So proud to be a part of this landscape and the South Mountain Partnership”
— SMP core partner
“The video is fabulous! I love the young couple fading into the walking old couple shot. Do we have permission to share/link to on our website?”
—SMP Leadership Committee member
“The video looks awesome! (It was exactly what I needed to watch at the end of what has been a really hectic day, by the way.) I love how there are different ages depicted at the end – it really ties together the “lifetime” concept.”
—Appalachian Trail Conservancy marketing department
Part V: Conclusions
While the metrics we tracked are all indirect measurements of public awareness, it seems clear that the South Mountain Partnership received a significant boost in public awareness within the South Mountain landscape as a result of the “This is Where We Live” video campaign. The video was well received on a creative and/or artistic level, and effectively and powerfully shared a central message – the South Mountain landscape as home – of the Partnership.
From an external communication perspective, the Partnership’s primary social media platform received a dramatic increase in traffic, and this traffic was funneled somewhat efficiently to the South Mountain website as well. From an internal communication perspective, South Mountain partners were given an opportunity to engage with the Partnership, and the video reinforced across the partner network this core message of the landscape as home.
In addition, our teams had a great time working with each other. Check out our Behind the Scenes video!
At the conclusion of the project, the team told us that
“We feel strongly that the ‘This is Where We Live’ project has given the South Mountain Partnership a significant boost in ‘brand equity’ internally and externally and represents a strategic and positive step forward on the communication and outreach front.”