by • 9 Jun, 2011 • Expositions, InspirationComments (0)8232

Putting xwashier on the map

Over the last months we’ve been busy with the launch of xwashier, our physical and digital network of historical places. In my presentation at MuseumNext and in a recent blogpost I advocated the use of integrated media strategies to make your product (exposition, activity, app) known to your audience. In this post I will share some of my experiences with the xwashier campaign that is currently unrolling.

(Despite our best intentions, in the end the media campaign accompanying the launch became the happy chaos communication tends to be. So, copy and steal ideas, but do so wisely.)

Message, target groups and designing the campaign

Xwashier is about the experience of history on the location where it actually happened. The relevance for the potential visitor/user therefore is local. Also, xwashier is a platform for local history, getting together many different organisations from around the country. Thirdly, xwashier is personal. A location is especially relevant to somebody, if s/he has a personal relation to the location.

Although we want to reach everybody (of course), from the general target groups in communication we identified opportunities online to reach day trippers, iPhone users and the networks of local institutions as well as increase our reach within our network (people enjoying history and heritage).

For the campaign, we add the message (local, personal, platform) to the people we want to reach (day trippers, iPhone users, etc.) and the media we have at our disposal (online: website, blogs, twitter, etc.). This we shake, stir and mix until there’re a number of fixed activities we will do, across different media, which address a specific group of people with a specific reason. When all these activities are plotted on a timeline, taking into account their interdependencies, we have an integrated media campaign.

Screenshot of our New media strategy
Screenshot of the new media planning for a campaign.

Activities we did to put xwashier on the map

For xwashier, apart from the typical things, some of the things we did online were:

  • Connect with Foursquare
    We have good experiences with the use Foursquare to make our online content available, so even though we now launched our own location-based platform, almost all content has been linked to from Foursquare as well. How? Simply by leaving tips at the locations in Foursquare with a link to xwashier.
  • Target people based on retweets
    In the weeks leading up to the launch, every day we sent a tweet about one location, preferably with a local partner in the cc. I kept track of the people who retweeted these tweets and once we launched sent them a direct reply notifying them of the content now available. This got good responses and a significantly higher CTR than links in normal tweets (and even some “outside” retweets).
  • “Personalised” press releases
    I know most of us by now treat bloggers the same way as the traditional press. That’s great and a thing I encourage. In the past, we’ve been successful getting ‘original content’ (rather than republished press releases) online by “personalising” press releases before sending them out to blogs and other online platforms. Original content get better CTRs in our experience. For xwashier we made lists based on target audience and potential interest and it worked pretty well.
  • N.B. Don’t launch when Steve Jobs is on stage
    Regarding the last point, we targeted quite some iPhone and app related websites. They published nice stuff and even reviews. Unfortunately, the same day Steve Jobs launched some stuff and our posts were lost in the iMess. Lesson: don’t compete with Apple.
  • Make it personal
    Part of our (traditional) promotion is always to notify key stakeholders by letter and/or email. This time, we took it further and used the fame of some of these people both to notify them, and do something fun for our audience. We tweeted messages like “Politician @HerName was born in SuchAndSuch. Discover her background with xwashier”. These messages combined the personal and the local aspect of xwashier and were well received (retweeted, replied to) by our following.

Also, there’s so things I know from previous projects that will be successful, but have not yet enough stats about:

  • Target local blogs and other media
    We made a long list of local blogs and other media for every location in xwashier and will target them directly, one at a time, with a specific promotion for their location. Much like we did the first round of tweets, but this time using the full strength of the project, with its videos and cartoons.
  • Facebook advertising
    Earlier this year we did our first Facebook advertising. I love it, as it allows you to target people as specifically as you want. We set up a great number of ads, competing against each other for the highest CTR and (eventually) “ROI” on the xwashier website. Hopefully I’ll be able to share some of the lessons from this experience soon.

As you will have noticed, only the Facebook advertising is paid promotion. All the other stuff can be done virtually free, although you should not underestimate the amount of time that goes into all these activities.

It’s bit hard to measure the full impact of the activities above. In the weeks leading up to the launch we reached 10-15k people with the project page on These are mostly people who visit our website and found out about it that way, and the people we reached with the early twitter activities. This had about 50 retweets.

Since Monday (“launch”), in just over 2 days time, we had 300+ mentions of the project on Twitter, 150-200 mentions on blogs and news websites. Surprisingly enough, this did translate into a considerable number of downloads of the app, views on the videos and high-quality visits to the website, but not necessarily in many visitors to this same website.

Unfortunately, the launch of xwashier coincided with not-so-good news related to our museum, which I will write about as soon as there’s more certainty. For now, we will continue rolling out the campaign. Soon, more news! (And download the app, visit the website, of course this blog post is part of the campaign ;-) )

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