I’m back with Destination DC, Washington DC’s destination marketing organization. And, really, what I want to do is help them with their social media efforts. If you recall, in my last blog post, 4 Best Practices Destination DC Should Do to Increase Social Media Engagement, I pointed out what they were doing right and what they were doing wrong. I conducted a social media audit on one of my favorite cities for a grad school project. I didn’t know that I would find a severe lack of two-way engagement on their top social media channels.

The average engagement rate across industries on Facebook is less than 1%.

The next project that was part of this Strategic Social Media Communications course was to conduct a mini-version of a competitive analysis. A mini-version because we only audited one social channel with the competitive examination.  After researching the nation’s top cities for convention and tourism, and comparing social media numbers, I decided on Choose Chicago. The platform I chose was Facebook.

For July 2020, the top-performing post for Destination DC is a beautiful sunrise shot at the National Mall on July 18, with the caption, “There’s truly nothing like sunrise 🌅 on the National Mall.” The top post for Choose Chicago was posted on July 4, 2020. It’s a photo of the American Flag on the side of a building with the message: Wishing you and yours a happy 4th of July with a flag emoji. According to Social Insider, both of these blog posts follow best practices on social media as photos receive the most engagement for travel brands.

So, which image post do you think received the most engagement? The one on the left of the Wrigley Building or the one to the right of the National Mall.

If you chose Chicago, you’d be correct. Destination DC’s image post has an engagement rate of 19.7%. These are excellent numbers and fantastic engagement for Facebook.

A recent report published by Rival IQ has the average engagement rate across industries on Facebook as less than 1%. However, Choose Chicago’s post has an engagement rate of 42%. It might seem that, of course, an image of a flag would generate a lot of engagement on the 4th of July. However, there’s more going on here than the holiday. Choose Chicago’s high engagement rates is based on a deliberate plan to engage and deliver high-quality content. 

Destination DC vs. Choose Chicago: Media Mix

Choose Chicago utilizes a mix of links, photos, and video versus Destination DC that posted links 93% of the time during the examination period. Out of 33 posts, 31 were links, and two were images. Hootsuite’s 14 Best Social Media Practices You Should Follow in 2020 suggests a rule of thirds media mix; 1/3 posts to promote the business (e.g., links to content on tourism site), 1/3 share ideas and posts from influencers, and 1/3 share personal stories. Honestly, many travel brands aren’t there in regards to engagement and media mix. However, Choose Chicago is closer to this practice than Destination DC. Destination DC is posting more often, but getting less engagement. A clear indication they need to change up what they’re posting. And, once they start posting higher quality content, they have to get social.

I’ve always been told a smile never hurt anyone, but it may brighten someone’s day. Social media is about being social, and socializing is a two-way process. Destination DC needs to engage with its audience. They can do something as simple as setting the goal of interacting with a third of those who comment by either liking the comment or responding to the comment or post. Sometimes it really is the simple things.

Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think of this comparison between DC and Chicago. Who do you think had the most engagement? Have you been to either of these fantastic cities?

8 thoughts on “Head-to-Head It’s DC vs. Chicago! Who’s More Social?

  1. I really enjoyed this post, though right from the get go I’m thinking DC has no chance. And I was right! Your point about social media being a two-way process can’t be overstated. This is really the aspect of social media that so many brands/orgs just don’t seem to understand.

    1. Thank you, Blogging Professor, for stopping by my social media blog. Yes, in this situation, DC didn’t stand a chance. DC has to bump up their engagement. I think mixing up their content and engaging their audience proactively, would help their social media efforts. ~Terri

    2. This post was very thoughtful and I found it very enjoyable. One area that I would like to explore more is population and politics. DC has a very large city, tri-state area, and tourist population that leads to higher engagement rates. I would be interested to see comparisons between DC and New York City. I feel that they would be very evenly matched. Overall, I am amazed by the efforts and results put in by DC. I find it very inspiring.

      1. Thank you for stopping by! I didn’t compare Destination DC to New York City. New York City does not have its own official tourism board. NYC falls under the umbrella of I Love NY (iloveny.com), which covers the entire state of New York, not just the city, so it would have been impossible to compare these two cities. But, I agree it would be interesting to see how they compare. I did compare Destination DC to other top ten convention cities such as Orlando and Las Vegas, and there was no comparison. Those cities have very high engagement numbers for a variety of reasons.

  2. I love your use of gifs! They really make reading the post enjoyable. It is interesting to see how a mixture of links, photos and videos can make such an impact on engagement, especially when Destination DC posts more often than Choose Chicago. Additionally, two-way communication is extremely important, and Destination DC should consider this when posting content on social media.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Ivana Social! I agree with you regarding the mix of content. And, in the case with these two, the proof is in the pudding. As you stated, DC posts more, but Chicago receives more engagement. That is an indication they are putting out higher quality content.

  3. While I haven’t been to either of these locations before (I missed the 8th grade field trip to Washington D.C. 😦 ), I can see how Chicago’s posts have come up on top. Without having a prompt or post that an audience can interact with, how can they expect to generate engagement? As the Blogging Professor said above, it doesn’t appear that Destination D.C. sees it as a two-way street, but rather a one-way relationship of them yelling information at you in the hopes people react to it. Taking a more tourist-forward and proactive approach would benefit them greatly in attempting to reach some of the numbers Chicago is putting up.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! You’re right. Many brands, not just Destination DC, treat social media like a one way street. For sure it’s a lost opportunity to engage and gain insight into their customers.

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