Discover DeKalb spent nearly $200,000 advertising this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival, including paying out $45,000 to “digital influencers” to promote the festival on social media and more than $70,000 on out-of-state billboards.
Despite the major cash spent to market the fest, attendance was estimated to be the same as last year at about 15,000 people, according to a city spokesperson.
Discover DeKalb, the nonprofit hospitality and tourism agency that serves Brookhaven and other DeKalb cities, paid 10 people to promote the city’s festival on social media, such as Twitter and Facebook.
The city itself spent $40,000 from its hotel/motel tax funds to hire the NUN Group to organize the event held March 25-26 at Blackburn Park.
This was the first time Discover DeKalb hired digital influencers in any of its marketing attempts, said communications manager Michael Lee. Digital influencers tend to have many followers on social media and are used by companies in branding efforts.
“We hired them based on the amount of engagement they have online, such as unique visitors to their sites,” Lee said.
All the digital influencers hired to promote the Cherry Blossom Festival live in metro Atlanta, Lee said, and he called the first-time campaign successful. Lee acknowledged he did not know if Discover DeKalb would hire digital influencers in the future.
“It was a successful campaign, but we can’t guarantee it will be used again,” he said.
At an April 12 work session, Discover DeKalb Executive Director and CEO James Tsismanakis touted the use of digital influencers to City Council members, saying the campaign “set the bar” for marketing and branding awareness.
Representatives from Porter Novelli, a public relations firm hired by Discover DeKalb to work with the digital influencers, said a “Twitter party” on March 22, just days before the fest kicked off, recorded nearly 123 million Twitter impressions. Twitter impressions are the total number of timelines tweets are delivered to, but does not mean they are actually read, according to Union Metrics, a firm that specializes in in-depth social media analytics. The county’s stats showed that there were only 306 clicks from Twitter to links about the festival from March 13 to March 24.
A Twitter party is essentially a live online chat using a designated hashtag – in this instance, “#CherryFest17” — that is meant to bring awareness to other digital influencers and people with like-minded interests. A Porter Novelli representative told City Council that two people were hired to conduct the Twitter party. The hosts used content created by Porter Novelli. The 10 digital influencers posted about the Twitter party to invite others to participate. During the party, 1,018 twitter users…