Harnessing the power of social media

From Bok Tower Gardens to the banks of Lake Shipp, the wilds of Circle B Ranch to the resort vibe of Balmoral Resort, Polk County is blessed with beauty.

Nowhere is that beauty more on display than through social media. The challenge to every business is to figure out a way to divert this river of information for their benefit.

“It started as a way to generate social media traffic for us and our partners,” said Senior Visitor Services Manager for Visit Central Florida, Justin Laferriere, of the Snap and Share program. “We quickly realized that the bonus was getting all this user generated content of our well-visited and memorable places.”

While the program may have started at Harborside along Lake Shipp, it has expanded to include Circle B Bar Reserve, Bok Tower Gardens, Balmoral Resort, the Usonian House on the campus of Florida Southern College and three spots in Lake Eva Park in Haines City.

“We put the signs at the aquatic center, the event center, and one by the lake in a spot that’s popular for folks to take pictures at sunset,” said Ryan Ritchie, deputy parks and recreation director for Haines City. “And they were used almost immediately.”

In most cases, the signs seemed to generate more photos.

“Circle B saw a 146 percent increase in user-generated content for those specific locations once the signs were erected,” said Laferriere.

For Ritchie, partnering with PCTSM on the signage made perfect sense.

“Everything is on social media,” he said. “This is the perfect opportunity to not only showcase our amenities and facilities we have here in Haines City, but to also magnify that through the established Visit Central Florida brand. That brand is a huge advantage.”