Unspeakable urban beauty is only a photo away.

The Friends of the Race Street Pier, which helps the new Philadelphia public park plan events and form long-term planning strategies came to us with an interesting dilemma.

Nestled between two neighborhood civic associations, and cut off from them geographically by the I-95 highway, leadership wondered who could be charged with “owning” the park. The Friends knew that there was a tremendous opportunity to engage young, civic-minded Philadelphians that didn’t necessarily live in the neighborhood, but would frequent the buzz-driving new public space.

To add to the dilemma, the group is a loose conglomeration of interested and dedicated people who volunteer their time. Whatever the outcome, it had to be easy to manage.

So we took a look at social media channels to see what people were saying about the Pier. That mean analyzing engagement patterns across a variety of social networks.

What we found is that it isn’t what people were saying that mattered most, it was what they were sharing: photographs. Nearly every day, we found, people were posting photos of the Race Street Pier. There was an opportunity to utilize that momentum.

We crafted a photo-centric strategy to take advantage of that constant stream, providing direction on a daily, weekly and monthly workflow to make it easy for their small staff to follow. The Friends now keep an eye on Flickr, Twitter and Instagram streams and share the best photographs with their followers. The group has increased interest and followers.

We also custom-tailored the Friends’ new website with that same strategy in mind. On its homepage, new photographs are automatically pulled from online photo streams to showcase citizen interest in the space.

A strong social media strategy is about more than owning an account: it’s about having a distinct purpose and following it daily, meeting the needs of content consumers without adding unnecessary work for staff.

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