Last fall, we were able to capitalize on a huge opportunity for Cintrifuse, the hub of Cincinnati’s startup ecosystem. Cintrifuse scored a major opportunity to host FounderCon, an annual gathering of TechStars founders and alumni. Traditionally reserved for bigger cities with a more established track record, this represented an important milestone for the city and Cintrifuse wanted to make the most of this time in the spotlight.
Our goal with the campaign was to rally #startupcincy members and supporters to take pride in what we’ve accomplished and the possibilities that lie ahead. In doing so, we could reach and impact both founders and investors from outside of the city to see what we have to offer. Simply put, build awareness from outside of the region by inspiring validation and support from within.
Our first step was to give meaning to the phrase #startupcincy. While it was being used fairly frequently as a stamp on anything startup-related, there was no depth to it… it wasn’t tangible, distinct or well-understood. We gave it three primary tenants, or talking points…
- Business-building: as someone on the outside considering investing their time, talent, and treasure, Cincinnati will be known as the environment that gives their startup the best chance to succeed.
- Connectedness: in Cincinnati, you’re not alone. We’re all trying to make it big, but we pull each other along. We take a meeting to share our ideas and to be of help. Cincinnati is the connections. It’s the familiar face. It’s looking out. It’s picking you up when you’re down. It’s celebrating you when you’re up.
- Hustle: we’re not handed anything. We work for everything we gain. We accomplish a lot with very little. Every obstacle is a chance to rise up.
Another important step we took was to identify micro-influencers within the #startupcincy community who we could rely on to help spread word leading up to and during the week-long FounderCon event. We scanned all of Cintrifuse’s lists (email, Twitter and more) and performed online research to surface a select group of people to help get the word out. We even created a custom audience in Facebook so that the most important content would be served up to these people first.
Once we established this foundation, we had the basis for developing content that would ignite the local startup community and attract non-local founders and investors.
Here’s what we developed…
1. Kickoff video - in this two-minute piece, Cintrifuse’s CEO Wendy Lea highlights Cincinnati as the home for building your business
2. Shareable graphics - we scanned the media for quotes, compiled stats about Cincinnati that show traction, brainstormed motivational phrases, transcribed audio interviews to go with photos we shot, and pulled stories from a handout we passed around to local entrepreneurs. These were then all turned into static and motion graphics, tagged them with usernames and hashtags to expand potential reach, and published to both Cintrifuse’s and StartupCincy’s social media channels.
3. Micro-video series - we featured five diverse, local entrepreneurs who each told their story of building a business here in Cincinnati.
4. Paid social media ads - we reserved a portion of the overall budget to take advantage of targeted ads through Facebook - reaching beyond followers to non-local investors and entrepreneurs + the 80 hand-picked influencers.
The results of this campaign went well beyond expectations. We exceeded those expectations by every measure! Compared to past performance on social media, this one-month campaign generated an increased reach of 501% (organic: by 687%), 250K total impressions, increased engagement of 741% (Facebook), 211% (Twitter), 166% (LinkedIn), over 500 new followers (40% increase) and over 45K video views.