[box type=”info”]Update: Takk Takk, the firm behind the Iceland Wants to Be Your Friend campaign has written a “behind the scenes” expose on their campaign.[/box]
I must confess that I know next to nothing about Iceland – I certainly never thought of it as an example of best practice social media campaigning – but after stumbling across this amazing campaign, I’m almost convinced that I should buy a plane ticket and visit its “forbidding interior” for myself.
The “Iceland Wants to Be Your Friend” campaign is the brain child of the “serious” folk at the Icelandic Tourist Board – and was created by Icelandic digital agency Takk Takk. It is a great example of a social media campaign because:
- It is fairly unique – I haven’t seen any other tourism campaigns like this one
- It engages across a range of platforms
- It has a friendly, conversational and consistent tone that welcomes engagement, while not taking itself too seriously
The site invites you into find out more by means of connecting on its social platforms and signing up to an email list.
With its distinctive “hand-typed letter” Typekit fonts, the main campaign page has bold calls to action – be Iceland’s friend. The minimalist design ensures that there is no distraction for the visitor; no menus, side bars, feeds or popups. When you go to this site, you’re almost compelled to click on one or more of the links, because there’s nothing else to do!
Meanwhile, more details and information about Iceland are provided on the tongue-in-cheek blog.
This “Blog About Iceland” simultaneously uses third-party endorsements from tourists who’ve been to the island, but also gives the visitor a humourous glimpse into Iceland’s culture. The blog has a different visual feel to the main campaign site, but the conversational, quirky tone is still there. You really can believe it is the same, eccentric island writing on both websites.
Blogs are excellent tools for online campaigns, because most blogging software make it easy to add new content that is search-engine optimised. This means people searching on Google or Bing for Iceland are more likely to find posts from this blog.
Iceland’s Tumblr is similar in content and tone to the main site and the blog, while carrying across the visual design of the main site:
Just like the blog, the Icelandic Tumblr provides highlights of Iceland – although in a different way to the blog. Just as self-depricating, the Tumblr is less formal than the blog. Since many people use Tumblr (it is one of the more popular micro-blogging sites), it is a good choice by the Icelandic Tourist Board as a place to interact with people. You can see that many of the Tumblr posts have comments and notes.
Iceland’s Facebook page does two things: create a Facebook presence for people to “like” Iceland; and create a second opportunity for the campaign to get email subscriptions.
Again, the visual design is consistent across platforms, as is the tone. Facebook is a good place to encourage people to subscribe to your email list – you can then communicate with them via Facebook (which has its limitations) as well as by email. I’ve written about using Facebook to build your campaign list here. Like the Tumblr and main website, the Facebook page also promotes the other social media platforms that the Iceland campaign uses.
Where the biggest risk for the campaign lies is on its Twitter account – where the whimsical, self-depricating and friendly tone must be constantly on display to the many tweets directed towards it.
As you can see, the Icelandic Twitter account (@thisisiceland) has regular replies to people who have sent it an @ message, as well as links to its various online presences. Each of its tweets are in a consistent tone to its main campaign theme. This kind of engagement would probably be fairly labour intensive – especially since it purports not to be a ‘bot.
There are other sites as well – Vimeo (a video sharing site like YouTube) and Flickr (a photo sharing site) are both used, as they are two of the largest media sharing sites around. With photos and videos created to populate the other sites, locating all your photos and videos in a single location is a great idea, as well as providing an opportunity for the users of those sites to engage with you.
There are little surprises for people who look around at their sites. For example, their footer disclaimer sends you to an Icelandic music download.
While this campaign obviously has a great deal of money and resources from the Icelandic Tourist Board, as well as a professional digital media firm doing the heavy lifting, it is a great case study of how to run a consistent theme, message and identity across multiple platforms – where they can all build upon each other, rather than be diluted. The one area that the campaign does seem to fall down on is in online advertising – I couldn’t find any Google ads for example.
The logic behind Iceland’s approach is worth considering – whether for political, union or NGO campaigns. Consistency, a range of social media channels, and an authentic voice are all reasons that this campaign stands out for me.