Posted on July 1, 2010 by cruisemuse
Copyright – Princess Cruises
aaaaah… Alaska.

While my right brain fed vicariously on the travel porn of the recent Princess Cruises social media junket; my right brain couldn’t help but wanting to analyze data and results. (RT @TripAdvisor: Travel porn is watching people do things you’ll never do in places you’ll never go.)  Certainly the sales and marketing team at Princess had some key metrics and outcomes in mind. Or maybe they just wanted to see what would stick to the “wall” and fine tune for any future efforts. At the very least they must have hoped to build awareness of their cruise tours, generate buzz on twitter, and garner some positive blog postings as to feed the SEO machine.

Gathering data and measuring results for any media campaign that doesn’t have a specific and trackable call to action is obviously difficult.  The wide social media nature of the #FollowMeAtSea experience makes this analysis especially challenging. Little insight can be obtained from the blogs themselves without access to each of the blogging participant’s private site analytic software. Princess Cruise can determine which of the blogs are referring traffic to the Princess website, but again this is closed and proprietary information. On the other hand, Twitter is a much more open system and allows for some public data mining on the hashtag.

Using tools such as What The Hashtag, Twapper Keeper, and The Archivist did provide some interesting although severely limited information. Twitter currently indexes tweets for just 7 days and will only reach back in time to 1,500 total tweets for a given hash tag or keyword. Since the cruise tour junket transpired over an 11 day period, plus several days of before and after tweeting, obtaining all of the needed data proved difficult. Twapper Keeper provides tracking and storage of tweets beyond the 7 day 1,500 twitter limit. However, an account needs to be established prior to tweeting using the hashtag to be collected.

Unfortunately, being unaware of such restrictions, I did not set up an storage/tracking account until it was almost too late. The data I collected covers the time period from June 22 to the posting date of this review. In effect it covers the latter stages of the cruise portion along with several days of post junket tweets. It does not cover any pre-junket, land tour, or early cruise twitter updates.

The primary period of the captured data set is a five day period from June 22 to cruise disembarkation on June 26. During this time frame there were approximately 1,500 tweets containing #FollowMeAtSea for an average of 300 tweets per day. Extrapolating to include the full 11 day cruise tour and adding a lower weighted 2 days on either end for pre and post tweeting provides and estimated total of 3,750 during the heart of the junket. Expanding the time frame out more days on each end, it is plausible that there were close to 4,000 total #FollowMeAtSea twitter posts generated for the entire campaign.

Nine social media participants were selected to join Princess Cruises during the cruise tour. Several of the participants had a traveling partner who also posted twitter updates using the hashtag; and these tweets are included in the above totals, but not included in the individual results below. Using the same 5 day data set, the rankings for the highest percentage of #FollowMeAtSea participant tweets are:

  1. 18.6% – @earthXplorer
  2. 16.2 % – @theplanetd
  3. 13.8% – @RickGriffin
  4. 13.4% – @CruiseBuzz
  5. 11.1% – @OrlandoChris
  6. 8.0 % – @BethBlair
  7. 7.7% – @traveldudes
  8. 5.1% – @Gadling
  9. 4.0% – @Travelogged
  10. 2.1% – @PrincessCruises

It is interesting that approximately 45% of all #FollowMeAtSea tweets were retweets. It is not clear how many retweets were generated by participants retweeting other participants; versus the participant’s followers retweeting to their own followers. Either way this clearly this expanded the reach of the campaign. There are a few tools to measure reach such as TweetReach, however the results are again limited by the 7 day 1,500 maximum.

Not surprising in it’s high use, but perhaps in it’s dominance, TwitPic URLs were contained in almost 25% of all #FollowMeAtSea tweets. No other image sharing service even came close to a 1% utilization rate.  Perhaps TwitPic should be considered as a perfect co-sponsor of any future social media travel junkets? I am assuming that a plethora of pictures where also posted to the participant’s blog sites and links posted via twitter updates; but this was difficult to analyze due to the use of URL shortening.

An unexpected phenomenon was the amount of tweeting amongst  the participants themselves. I do not have any empirical data to support this observation. However, the occurrences were simple banter as well as communicative in nature such as “where are you?” and “meet me at…”  It appears that twitter has excellent functionality for small close groups as well as delivering information to large wide networks.

Disappointingly observed was the apparent lack of interaction by the travel consumer via twitter. Most of the twitter based comments and questions seemed to come from travel industry people or friends and family of the participants. Hopefully there was a good deal of true consumer participation via blog comments, emails and phone calls. Better and more promotion of future campaigns to those outside of the travel community with co-sponsorships and standard media placements would greatly expand the reach and engagement.

Overall my impression is that the #FollowMeAtSea cruise tour was a successful experiment. Certainly much was learned by Princess Cruises and the social media participants. I truly enjoyed the instant gratification of the twitter updates, especially when pictures were included. In future campaigns I would like to see more use of video sharing tools like TvitVid. Of course I might be just way too into travel porn…

If you have better tools and data to share, or other feedback, please feel free to comment below.

Disclaimer: The data used for this review, by named tools and/or twitter, was incomplete; thereby the results reported in this review may or may not be accurate in part or whole.

5 Responses “Review of the #FollowMeAtSea @PrincessCruises Social Media Alaska Cruise Tour 2010” →

  1. JD

    July 1, 2010

    Very Cool post and info, thanks so much for sharing!


  2. Beth Blair

    July 1, 2010

    I was very excited to see the statistics you rounded up. And honestly, I’m impressed with the numbers, especially considering we were out of wi-fi/cell range many times due to our isolation as we traveled through Alaska. Personally, my frustration was with my BlackBerry which didn’t do as well as the iPhone (another sponsor?). But I guess that’s for another study…


  3. RickGriffin

    July 1, 2010

    Speaking for myself, the Twitter and FaceBook elements of this trip were more “real time – what I’m doing now” kind of updates, as were the interactions with my followers. I have enough video, pictures and memories for blogs and show segments to keep me busy for months to come.

    I think it will be months before the full impact of Follow Me At Sea can be determined. Many of my followers have already made their travel plans for this summer but have indicated through DMs & the Midlife Road Trip FB Fan page that they are adding an Alaskan cruise to their Bucket List! I suspect that more interest will be generated as blogs and videos exceeding 140 characters are released:) Thanks for the great article!


  4. Dave and Deb

    July 1, 2010

    Thank You for this informative post. It is interesting to see it from the point of view and analysis of someone outside #FollowMeAtSea. We feel the same as Rick, that the full reach and impact of the #FollowMeAtSea Fam trip may never be known. We can only speak to the responses we have had from our readership which is only positive. Many people have expressed interest and wanted more information about this particular cruise. That, in our opinion, is a success! thank you again for this great write up!


  5. Cruise Buzz

    July 1, 2010

    Great recap of the math behind the tweets. The number of impressions is the key. Like most things on Twitter, we need to be patient and wait for Biz Stone and the Twitter bunch to decide what they want to do with the data. The fact that you have taken the time to put this post together shows that the impact of the #FollowMeAtSea trip continues to provoke thought. I think that more brands will engage in this type of campaign because of the ability to tap into people’s social networks for impressions and engagement. I am excited for the continued growth of social media and I look forward to working as part of a team tweeting on the same hash in the near future.

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