Formed to raise the profile of Manchester as a cultural destination, Manchester Museums Consortium (MMC) comprises the city’s nine major museums and galleries, among them The Lowry, Imperial War Museum North and Manchester Art Gallery.
Early in 2009, MMC selected PushON to guide the digital strategy for a project that would become CreativeTourist.com. Bringing together the best creative and digital talent in Manchester, the website would showcase the city’s culture to the world; while providing a distinctively Mancunian take on world culture. It would attract a certain sort of local and international visitor to Manchester: cosmopolitans who would not only ‘stay and spend’, but go on to visit the city’s museums and galleries.
CreativeTourist.com would be about Manchester, but it would be aimed at a national and international audience. It would be a product of the Manchester arts and culture community, but it must have broader appeal. Ideally, it would complement, rather than compete with, the venues’ existing marketing activities. Ultimately, it was hoped that Creative Tourist would help transform perceptions of Manchester and translate into more visits to venues. And all of this would need somehow to be made measurable.
MMC had employed some of the country’s most respected arts and culture journalists to supply regular feature articles. World-renowned artists and curators had agreed to appear in videos and podcasts. It was clear from the outset that this website would have one key advantage: the high quality and sheer quantity of its content.
The PushON strategy for Creative Tourist was designed to work from this advantage. We would optimise content to ensure maximum visibility on Google – while respecting the skills and integrity our writers. We would guide and focus content to reach our audience, targeting search terms appropriate to people who wanted to visit Manchester, but might not know it yet.
Our social media strategy would work coherently with the search campaign. Where a traditional SEO campaign would deploy ‘link building’ to improve search rankings, we would focus on building relationships with relevant and authoritative websites. We would engage with the global arts and culture community through blogs, Twitter and Facebook. What better way to demonstrate our city’s cultural capital than by speaking loudly and passionately about culture, in a distinctively Mancunian accent?
In only the second full month since its launch, CreativeTourist.com is already generating significant interest: it has received over 10,000 visits from more than 100 countries. More importantly, it has given Manchester a voice in the global arts and culture conversation, with some 1,500 pages now linking to the website.
While these early results are encouraging, we are conscious that Creative Tourist remains a work in progress. The key to the success of this new species of tourism website will be its willingness to learn through doing and to evolve accordingly.
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