SEASIDE - Do you “like” the official Facebook page for the Seaside Visitors Bureau? If so, chances are good you’re fairly familiar with some of the regular content that’s been pumping through our page for the past two and a half months. I’ll get into a little bit about that content in a moment. But first, a quick report on the more than 3,000 new “likes” we’ve gained in the past two-plus months and how we went about obtaining these folks.

Our campaign started on April 30 with a two-fold approach to drive traffic to and interest in our Facebook page while also promoting the Seaside Downtown Development Association’s spring Downtown Wine Walk. We designed a sweepstakes to give away nine sets of Wine Walk tickets over three weeks, and supplemented the campaign with targeted Facebook advertisements.

Facebook ads are an extremely interesting and instant way to target individuals that have or may have an interest in your product or, in our case, a destination. Our main focus was the drive markets that Seaside already sees making their way to our north coast destination. Portland, Seattle and Olympia, Wash., Northern Idaho and cities within a 50-mile radius of these towns were the primary focus for those we hoped would “like” Visit Seaside, OR (the official name of our Facebook page).

Unlike a traditional media buy where one might purchase a magazine ad or TV/radio spots for a set price, there are different ways to spend your ad dollars on Facebook. We utilized a cost-per-click process where your account is only charged when your advertisement is clicked. The goal of the click was to turn the Facebook user into a new “like” of the Visit Seaside, OR page. It’s not as simple as throwing up an ad and hoping it’s clicked, though. The more engaging your ad (we focused on quick and interesting little blurbs of text and bright, readable photos), the more times it is clicked, which in turn generally means the ad will be shown to more people. Facebook wants to make money, and if your ad isn’t interesting, it will collect dust. It may not cost you a dime, but it also won’t gain you much in return.

Over the course of two months (we continued to run ads through June after the Wine Walk promotion was completed), our ads were served more than two million times, generated more than 3,000 clicks (that’s a click-through rate of .15% - anything between .12% and .16% is considered optimal) and we acquired more than 2,700 new “likes” from our ads (total cost per “like” was $.34 – optimal cost is less than $.80). With a budget that ranged from $10-$24 per day, we paid about $.31 every time our ad was clicked (optimal is $.40). What’s exciting about these results is they are all well above the optimal range and it shows there’s a huge opportunity for Seaside to engage on Facebook.

Now that we’ve increased our “likes” by more than 3,000 in the past two months (an additional 700 or so came via other methods) and have nearly 6,500 total “likes,” the goal is to serve the consumer helpful information and inspirational messages, while also engaging with them about why they should visit Seaside. We started that process with a photo of the week (you can see it each Sunday) and we will continue with engaging content throughout the weekdays, with a focus on events and things to do.

This entire two-month process has been an enjoyable and successful way of getting the Seaside name out there to a sizeable audience and at a very affordable cost.

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