The Maine Office of Tourism recently conducted a social media campaign using five Instagrammers with marketing firm BVK's help.

Jessica Zollman was one of five Instagram influencers selected by BVK for the Maine Office of Tourism’s marketing campaign.
Jessica Zollman was one of five Instagram influencers selected by BVK for the Maine Office of Tourism’s marketing campaign.

An individual itinerary speaking to each photographer's interests and audiences was crafted, and they were encouraged to post photos while in a destination as well as take a variety of photos that will be used for the next edition of the Maine Thing Quarterly, a digital magazine published by the office of tourism.

Maine's focus has been on attracting new visitors to the state, and using social media was high on its list of ways to do that, said Carolann Ouellette, director of the Maine Office of Tourism.

"One of the things we know is that social channels rank really high, right behind friends and family, as one of the top sources for travel ideas," she said. "About 33% of consumers say they get inspired about new vacation spots from social channels like Instagram, so that worked really well into our strategy."

With BVK's help, Maine selected five Instagrammers to work with on the campaign, including Jessica Zollman (@JayZombie), a photographer.

Zollman said she frequently works with destinations to take photos, and posting about her experiences on Instagram is a bonus for those destinations (she has about 242,000 followers).

Jessica Zollman
Jessica Zollman Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lauren Randolph

In Maine, Zollman's focus was more toward the urban experience, Ouellette said, while others were in more rural areas.

"We wanted to make sure the match made sense so that we were reaching people where whatever the Instagrammers were posting or talking about would resonate with their followers, that it wouldn't seem odd," she said.

Indeed, Zollman's photos of Maine fit in well with her other Instagram posts, mirroring her personal style that she described as "bright and colorful" -- think a bright red, cooked lobster whose claws are restrained by baby-blue rubber bands, atop clams and yellow corn, all on a red picnic table.

While the edition of the Maine Thing Quarterly featuring the influencers' work is not yet out, Ouellette said their posts on social media before and during their trips has garnered excellent engagement.

"The impressions were huge," she said. "We ended up with about 900,000 consumer engagements, a mix of likes, comments and shares."

Ouellette's advice for suppliers or destinations echoes the need for authenticity in influencer campaigns, lest their audiences recognize an inauthentic post or product endorsement.

"I think really being selective, making sure you do a little bit of homework ... I think finding the [right] fit really probably would be my best advice," she said.

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