Non-humans make noise in ACT's Human Brochure

ACT Tourism’s Human Brochure campaign took a not-so-human twist over the weekend, after the stream of social media interactions was overtaken by automatically-generated spam.

The second phase of the 500 Humans tourism campaign took place over the weekend, with 250 participants joining one of four groups – food and wine, family fun, adventure, or arts – to be treated to some of the highlights of Canberra’s tourist circuit.

In return for the free trip, they were to hit social media in force, tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming and generally sharing their experience, both in real time and afterwards.

But as the Twitter hashtag for the campaign, #HumanBrochure, rose to become one of the most visible in the country over the weekend, a number of spam accounts sought to capitalise on Canberra’s popularity, overrunning the stream with unrelated links.

The spam caught the attention of a number of other Twitter users, prompting some users to mute the stream. The bombardment of false tweets appears to have continued through until Sunday night, as the campaign consistently remained in the top 10 topics on Twitter.

But Australian Capital Tourism director Ian Hill said the spam was almost an inevitable part of the popularity, and didn’t detract from the overall benefits of the campaign.

“Twitter’s only one angle of the whole social media communications network,” he said. “In some ways it’s a bit ironic. When those things are trending, you are open to a bit of ambush marketing, but … the humans, what they’re posting far outweighs anything that is going on from a third party.”

Mr Hill said content from across all the social media platforms was aggregated spam-free on the Human Brochure website.

Preliminary results for the weekend past show participants posted about 2200 images on Instagram, sent about 3500 tweets, and shared about 800 Facebook posts.

The numbers were slightly down on the buzz generated from the first group in October, who sent out over 4300 tweets, 2700 Instagram photos and 1100 Facebook posts, reaching a claimed audience of more than 4.2 million people.

But Mr Hill said as number-crunching continued, the tourism body would be keeping a particularly  eye on the more long-form content generated by the weekends.

“I think the blogging is probably the area that we’re really interested in seeing, because that keeps giving. The Twitter is fine, but that is a point in time,” he said. “We’re still getting blogs from the October visit.”

Mr Hill said the two trips had created a great cache of “deep, rich” content for future tourism campaigns, but no decision had been made on whether more free trips would be given out.

“We’re weighing that one up. I think we’ve got to be careful we don’t over-egg it, but at the same time we’ve got a couple of concepts we’re playing around with,” he said.

He said they would be seeking feedback and even further ideas from the participants themselves for future campaigns.

“We’re certainly keen on keeping the human context or branding alive this year.”