Social media is nothing new, especially to the younger generation who thrive on getting information and entertainment from sources like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook.
What is new is the use of social media influencers as a way to help showcase the new attractions New Bern and the county have to offer.
During its regular monthly meeting Sept. 8, the Craven County Tourism Development Authority’s marketing team, BluePrint Business Communications, explained an ongoing project to bring social media influencers to New Bern.
The purpose is to help show the younger generation there is more to the city thanhistoric attractions.
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“Our goal with the influencers is to capture their fan base and get in front of different audiences,” TDA Executive Director Melissa Riggle said. “Each influencer has their own respective audience and followers who choose to be a captive audience member of that person.”
To explain in layman’s terms, Riggle said, an influencer is a person who has gained a social media following from people interested in the things they say and do Followers trust that person’s opinion because they enjoy the content that is put out.
How it works
With a budget of $369,400 for the fiscal year, the development authority uses its funds for things like print marketing, digital web maintenance and promotions.
For the TDA’s influencer marketing campaign, they are using a portion of the budget to finance an influencer’s trip to the area
Riggle said those who are selected will have their accommodations paid at the current hotel rate at the time of their stay, and they will be given a stipend of $1,300 for exploring, eating and shopping.
In order to select the right person, the authority’s marketing team provided an application that was posted on the Visit New Bern website for interested influencers.
Once the applications were collected, the TDA set their criteria for who would be best in line with their marketing strategies, including what type of content they release, how they position themselves on social media, and how many followers they have — at least 10,000.
“We wanted to find a very diverse range and once we found that, we looked through to see if they were in line with the same caliber and marketing that we are,” Riggle said. “One of the influencers, Shionda Farrell from Charlotte, has just under 10,000 (followers) on Instagram but 30,000 TikTok followers.”
BluePrint Business Communications conducted the initial interviews, then sent qualified candidates to Riggle for final approval. As of Tuesday, three influencers were selected, one of whom is expected to visit during October’s MumFest and Farrell is scheduled to come at the end of October for the WRNS/Swiss Bear Mumfest Concert featuring Nelly.
The TDA is currently finalizing itinerary for the visits and coordinating how the influencers will share their content on social media.
New Bern is not only historic
Those who grow up in North Carolina at some point learned about the state’s rich history.
Some of the beginning of the state lies in New Bern, with the city boasting that it was the state’s first capital and that Tryon Palace, a historic landmark, was home to William Tryon, N.C. governor from 1765 to 1771.
Riggle said that there is also a revitalized downtown with bustling restaurants, breweries, nightlife and music that has the locals excited.
Now, she said, the job is to bring that excitement to those who are outside of Craven County. Riggle described Tryon Palace as a stand-alone attraction, whereas downtown New Bern itself is becoming its own as well.
Although it’s not a goal for this marketing campaign, the ultimate success story would be for a visitor to turn into a resident and become a new part of the community.
“Generally people visit a place between three and four times before they make the decision to move and obviously that first step is to help bring them in as a tourist and a guest,” Riggle added.
Reporter Trevor Dunnell can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please consider supporting local journalism by signing up for a digital subscription for as little as $1 a month. Newbernsj.com/subscribenow