For its 2013 campaign, the National Trust focused on celebrating the special places that play an important role in people's lives. The trust takes care of a portfolio of historic houses, gardens, forests and castles, so it decided it would respond to research it carried out that found 84 per cent of Britons have a favourite place that makes them happy. It designed the Special Places Project Facebook app to encourage people to share their memories of their favourite places.
"It was launched as a photo competition to inspire entries, but with the ambition for it to be a long-term project that will document people's favourite places in the UK," says Laura Appleby, senior PR officer at the National Trust.
The charity designed adverts that featured visitors to National Trust properties talking about what makes their favourite locations special.
"The advertising is targeted at families and aims to show a surprising view of the National Trust, to overcome perceptions that it is stuffy or only about preserving country houses," says Appleby.
With the help of communications agency Mischief PR, the charity reached out to celebrities it felt were aligned to the target audience, says Appleby. The actors Jude Law and Kim Cattrall and the interior designer Kelly Hoppen, among others, shared photographs online of their favourite places.
Several celebrities tweeted about their favourite spots on the campaign launch day in March.
The charity has had a positive response to the campaign, with traffic to its website up by 40 per cent on the previous March and an increase in the number of people finding it through social media. More than 5,000 people have visited the Special Places Project app, and about 3,000 people have used the #specialplaces tag on Twitter.
"We hope the app will continue to encourage people to share their special places and use it as a place to get inspiration from others," says Appleby.
EXPERT VIEW: Jim Campbell, creative director, Strudel
More attractions are discovering the power of apps and social media. Facebook is a great medium for word-of-mouth recommendations; I lose count of how many 'wish you were here?' updates I get on my news feed from Judith Chalmers wannabes over bank holiday weekends.
By gathering people's experiences, the National Trust 'special places' app uses the powerful emotions attached to happy memories.
I got rather excited about the app and wanted to upload a photo of my family's visit to Tattershall Castle. However, even with a good signal the app didn't allow me to upload from my camera. And the skin design of the app is too conservative to counter perceptions of stuffiness.
But it's safe to say I'll come back to the app and try again, which is what destination advertising is all about - return visits.
Total: 7 out of 10