The Atlantic City Alliance invited a group of 11 out-of-town bloggers to visit the resort on the Fourth of July as part of a social media marketing campaign to drum up interest in the city and its attractions.
Timing the trip allows the alliance to use the holiday and the special events scheduled around the Fourth of July — fireworks, free concert and night light show — to help highlight the day and nighttime activities available in the resort.
Twenty or so out-of-town journalists also were invited a day earlier to experience the holiday.
“It all comes back to how people do AC,“ Jeff Guaracino, chief strategy and communications officer for the alliance, said, making a reference to the city’s new slogan of ‘Do AC.’
The alliance has been using the Twitter hashtag — #howidoac — and asking bloggers whom they’ve invited to the resort for the Fourth to use the hashtag when tweeting about their trip.
In addition to creating a recognizable identity for tweets about Atlantic City tourism, the hashtag helps the alliance determine whether the bloggers’ message is getting out to others through social media, according to Ed Salvato, who helped coordinate the bloggers trip for the alliance.
Bloggers are typically unpaid writers who — if they are successful — have cultivated a following interested in what the bloggers have to say. The belief is that if bloggers write rave reviews on a topic, their audience will want to follow suit, and in turn those people will tell their friends and family about the experience.
For this holiday, the alliance has targeted mom bloggers as well as those who write about travel experiences.
The alliance invited the bloggers to arrive in Atlantic City at the Golden Nugget at 5 p.m. and then take a trolley to Boardwalk Hall where they were to meet Moment Factory, the creators of the new 3D light show called Duality.
Prior to the trip, the bloggers had already posted on their websites and social media channels photographs and videos previewing the 3D show — all resources provided by the alliance.
The show is an important marketing tool because it is to become a permanent attraction on the Boardwalk.
The timing of the trip required the bloggers, who also were invited to bring partners and children on the trip, to stay overnight. That will be the first for Debbie Bookstabler, a Berwyn, Pa., blogger who operates the site mamamista.com and tweets using the handle @buzzmommy.
“I’ve been to AC only on day trips,” she said.
After hearing about Atlantic City from other bloggers, Bookstabler, whom Salvato referred to as a “power mom blogger” due to her social media reach, said she was excited to see the place for herself, particularly given the resort’s past reputation.
“It was seedy, it was getting a little cheesy,” she said of Atlantic City.
Fellow “mom blogger” Sherry Aikens, who operates the site superexhausted.com and tweets using the @babypop handle, said her goal was to see how family-friendly Atlantic City was. For the trip, she brought along her two children and a baby sitter.
“We learn more about the area and we inform people what they can do,” Aikens said.
Other bloggers included Kory Aversa, a public relations consultant who also operates phillylovesfun.com and tweets using the handle @koryaversa.
While he would be unlikely to blog about anything negative on his trip, anything positive he writes would be genuine, Aversa said.
“When I mention fun, you know I had fun,” he said. “If what we talked about wasn’t fun and cool, there would be backlash.”
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