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ACT Human Brochure campaign wins Australian Tourism award

Canberra’s unique viral marketing “Human Brochure’’ campaign has won a major prize at the Australian Tourism Awards.

The world-first campaign saw 500 people visit Canberra for a weekend and share their experiences using social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

The $1.3 million campaign by VisitCanbera was awarded the national Destination Marketing award at a ceremony in Sydney on Friday night.

ACT Tourism Minister Andrew Barr said the campaign had helped overcome negative perceptions about Canberra by allowing the destination and its tourism products “speak for themselves’’.

“With support from more than 60 industry partners, the Human Brochure was an outstanding success – providing a unique platform to challenge perceptions and change the way Australians think about their national capital,’’ Mr Barr said.

“Thousands of Tweets, Facebook and Instagram pictures were posted with the  #HumanBrochure hashtag during the innovative advocacy campaign to promote the nation’s capital.’’

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The campaign saw two groups of 250 social media savvy Australians invited to Canberra in 0ctiober 2012 and February 2013.

In between and during experiences in the interest categories of  Adventure, Family Fun, food and wine and arts and  culture, the visitors used smartphones and tablet devices to broadcast their adventures.

Their stories have been collated on a central website.

The “humans’’ posted 4,952 images on Instagram, made 7,782 tweets and 1,843 Facebook posts.

It was estimated that the material was seen by 4.2 million Australians during the first weekend in October 2012 and 4.3 million during the second weekend in February 2013.

Analysis of the social media material showed that it was 90 per cent positive towards Canberra.

Australian Capital Tourism director Ian Hill said the exercise had been successful because it had used people speaking authentically experiences in Canberra.

“It’s about real people talking about real experiences, rather than manufactured paid-for Tweets,’’ he said.

Mr Hill said future tourism campaigns would build on the Human Brochure concept.

As well as visiting Canberra-based national institutions, the visitors were given opportunities to undertake adventure sports, experience fine dining and capital region wineries.

The project had a few small hiccups, with some social media interaction during the February weekend being temporarily overtaken by automatically-generated spam.