100 Years of Advancing Destinations

Social Rankings to Inform Business Objectives with Visit Philadelphia

Author: Joy Lin
Posted: March 30, 2015
Blog Topics Covered:
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DMOs are often pitted against one another in a muscle-flexing match in terms of number of followers and fans. While quantity is important, Visit Philadelphia took on the challenge of beginning to understand how their activities stack up when exploring the quality of relationships the DMO has with said followers and fans on social media.

"We get lots of rankings of Philadelphia versus other destinations in terms of raw followers, etc. but we never could get a grasp of how we fared in terms of engagement," said Caroline Bean, Director of Social Media, Visit Philadelphia.

Visit Philadelphia commissioned independent social media agency Sparkloft Media to conduct an audit of its social media channels and that of its DMO competitors. The data and rankings in the report provide an objective look at how Visit Philadelphia ranks among its direct market competitors and other top DMOs on key metrics and platforms. The data is extensive but not inclusive of every metric on all social platforms. Rather, the report measures a pre-defined scope of criteria to provide a baseline measurement of how Visit Philadelphia and a select number of other DMOs compare on social.

Methodology, Channels, and Metrics

The research study examined four major social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, using metrics such as size of following, total engagement, and engagement rate -- where data is publicly available -- to evaluable Visit Philadelphia’s performance. Totals are reflective of data collected between December 19, 2014 and January 1, 2015. The metrics measured on each platform is defined as follows:


  • Total Fans
  • Total Posts
  • Post Engagement (Likes, Comments, Shares)
  • Engagement Rate
  • Average Engagement per Post


  • Total Followers
  • Tweet Engagement (Retweets, Favorites)
  • Average Engagement/Tweet


  • Total Followers
  • Post Engagement (Likes, Comments)
  • Average Engagement/Post


  • Total Followers
  • Total Following
  • Number of Boards
  • Total Engagement (Pins, Likes)

Competitive Set

Visit Philadelphia ranked itself against two distinct sets: (1) Direct Market Competitors and (2) Top U.S. Cities on Social Media.

Direct Market Competitors (in Alpha order)

  • Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau (Boston USA)
  • NYC & Company (NYCGO)
  • Visit Baltimore
  • Washington, DC Convention & Tourism Corporation (Destination DC)

Top U.S. Cities* on Social Media (in Alpha order)

  • Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau (Visit Austin, TX)
  • Choose Chicago
  • Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (Las Vegas)
  • Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau (Discover LA)
  • NYC & Company (NYCGO)
  • San Diego Tourism Authority (Visit San Diego)
  • San Francisco Travel Association (San Francisco)
  • Savannah Convention & Visitors Bureau (Visit Savannah)
  • Visit Orlando

 *Top cities are defined as cities with large populations, large social followings and/or DMOs considered social savvy by industry experts and peers.

The Results

While Visit Philadelphia ranked fifth among the 13 cities in terms of total followers and fans, the DMO bests San Francisco Travel Association and Visit Orlando to claim the #3 spot in terms of engagement (liking, sharing or commenting on posts). 

Additionally, Visit Philadelphia scored the #1 position among its direct-market competitors on Facebook and Instagram.

“Our 15 social media accounts reach nearly 800,000 people, and we’re committed to ensuring that these platforms provide compelling and useful information to locals and visitors,” said Meryl Levitz, president and CEO, Visit Philadelphia. “This study shows that our significant investment keeps us right up there with our top competitors and top destinations in the country, including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Boston and New York.”

Armed with this additional layer of understanding about its social media activities, Visit Philadelphia not only harnesses key data with which to benchmark future activities, but also informs stakeholders about the DMO's ongoing performance.