The Magic of Social Media Influencers for Disney Parks

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Published on November 2, 2017, at 8:05 a.m.
by Hope Todd.

Generating content for a social media page can seem like a tough job. Not only does the content have to be good, but there also has to be an audience to see it. Maintaining interest among publics is perhaps the hardest part about managing social media accounts.

Disney Parks, however, has been adding a bit of pixie dust to its social media outreach. Like other large companies, the brand has been contacting other pages on social media, particularly Instagram, to promote positive feelings about its attractions.

Photo by Chase Russell

“Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boom
What is important, however, is maintaining positive attitudes about its parks. Disneyland and Walt Disney World find pride in being “the place where dreams come true,” and want to continue promoting this image to Disney’s publics.

That’s where other social media accounts come in. Disney Parks has recruited profiles with strong followings to post about its attractions.

Chase Russell is the man behind one of these accounts on Instagram, @imagineerinsta. Whenever he visits one of the Disney Parks, he takes plenty of high-quality photos and posts them throughout the year. The account currently has 181,000 followers.

Russell is a student at The University of Alabama. More than five years ago, he created @imagineerinsta to post some pictures he had taken at Disney World. Soon, he received sponsorships with Polaroid and Coca-Cola to post on their behalf and promote their products. Disney eventually got wind of these partnerships, and asked him to help promote the parks.

When I spoke to him over the phone, he was actually boarding a plane from Anaheim, California, to Birmingham, Alabama, to head back to school after three days in Disneyland.

“Disneyland will go through other outlets to help promote them,” said Russell. “For this trip, I partnered with Visit Anaheim, which is the city’s tourism department. Where Disney came in, however, is that I was given free tickets to the Halloween party at the park.”

Photo by Chase Russell

Russell was asked by Visit Anaheim to make posts about Disneyland’s seasonal offerings in the month of October. He took over the @VisitAnaheim page for a day and posted Instagram Stories about the Anaheim Marriott. He will also be posting a blog for Visit Anaheim. In return, he received benefits during the trip for his “trouble.”

In the first 36 hours of the campaign alone, @VisitAnaheim received 1,000 new followers.

Russell directed people from his own account to follow Visit Anaheim’s page to enter for a chance to win tickets, as well as to be taken virtually to the Halloween party. Russell’s followers already liked his content, so they trusted what he had to say and wanted to see what else he would be posting from the tourism page. His efforts led to a dramatic boom in followers.

“You’ve got a friend in me”
The reasoning behind recruiting social media influencers is that it is more cost-effective and engaging, according to PRWeek . Followers of organically grown accounts are more trusting of what the influencer is posting than what just a brand is promoting. Recommendations from influencers seem more peer-to-peer than brand-to-customer.

There is already a relationship there between an influencer like Russell and his audience. It’s just a matter of bridging the gap between a brand and its target publics.

“Disney’s influencers are often mommy bloggers or family-oriented bloggers, as well as a lot of millennial influencers,” said Melody Schmidt, communications intern within the communication strategy department at Walt Disney World. “It’s good for reaching a lot of their audience at the same time.”

Photo by Chase Russell

Schmidt mentioned another case of Disney’s social media influencers. Disney World just completed a campaign during the month of August with The “Bucket List” Family, an influential family YouTube vlog. Its followers are family-oriented, so families are more likely to be receptive to what they had to say about Disney.

Not only is there a relationship between influencer and follower; there also must be a strong relationship between influencer and brand. If not, the influencer’s post won’t feel as genuinely positive.

Disney World has its own intern position to specifically maintain its relationships with social media influencers. This position works closely to “create content and awareness for Disney Parks & Resorts,” as well as manage conferences and programs for influencers. Talk about dedication.

There is a growing prominence of this dedication to long-term influencer relationships, according to a recent article in AdWeek. In the case of @imagineerinsta, Russell has already had many years of great experiences at Disney Parks. What Disney then had to do was make sure that he feels the same way when posting. When the company gives him benefits for helping in promotion, he still experiences the sprinkle of magic.

“See ‘ya real soon!”
This method of relationship-building leads to followers seeing a glimpse of the magic Disney Parks creates. It builds excitement and anticipation as people dream of their own visit some day.

After all:

“A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep.” — Cinderella

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