Best Use of Social Media

Social media proves to be a game-changer for preservation efforts

Social media helped the Partners in Preservation program break records for citizen engagement.

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Using social media, traditional media, and a passion for preservation, the Partners in Preservation program and M Booth created an impressive campaign that won them top honors in the Best Use of Social Media category of PR Daily’s 2012 Media Relations Awards.

The Partners in Preservation program of the American Express Foundation and the Natural Trust for Historic Preservation is no stranger to working with the public to increase advocacy for preservation. In order to engage a younger demographic and increase participation, the program team knew it was necessary to supplement traditional efforts. With the help of M Booth, team members went to work creating a social media campaign to foster preservation efforts in New York City. 

The program involved a number of cities across America. People were to vote for their favorite historical sites in each “market.” Every site received a grant, but the places with the most votes won the top honor of 100 percent funding for a preservation project.

M Booth and the program team focused on “the New York experience.” New York had 40 participating historic sites, 20 blogger ambassadors, program partners, and eager New York influencers and consumers whom they sought to engage through social media. 

The campaign began with a “community rally” during which photos and special event information were used to amplify social media efforts. Additionally, the team used:

  • Foursquare to reward people with a preservation badge when they checked into a historic site.
  • The Twitter feeds of American Express, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Partners in Preservation, and WNYC-FM public radio (with whom they also partnered to share radio messages) to create coordinated messages.
  • 17 celebrity influencers to share information about the campaign via social, including Jesse Tyler Ferguson of “Modern Family,” Ed Westwick of “Gossip Girl,” and Zach Braff of “Scrubs,” among others.
  • Film students who had been recruited to create 10 site videos to drive Facebook voting for favorite sites.

The campaign organizers hosted an open house weekend at the 40 sites and shared photos and messages across social networks, again, tying more traditional efforts to social media. The team supported these efforts with news releases, announcements, and a “preservationist community” rally to open voting at The Metropolitan Museum of Art where they brought bloggers, the sites, and media together. The kickoff spurred a Twitter hashtag, #PreserveNYC.
 
The results were impressive:

  • 107 posts, 289 tweets, and 130 Facebook posts generated by bloggers.
  • 15,000 tweets about Partners in Preservation, which reached nearly 150,000 during the voting period.
  • 31,513 Facebook likes for Partners in Preservation.
  • 16,195 new Foursquare followers.

Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers voted. The campaign’s efforts resulted in half a million new advocates for New York’s preservation, and 40 historic sites received grants, three of which received complete funding for projects. 

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