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Butte Turns To Social Media To Help Elevate Its Image

A photo from the "Butte. Elevated" campaign which aims to promote Butte and change some of the negative perceptions of The Mining City from the inside out.
Courtesy Butte. Elevated.
A photo from the "Butte. Elevated" campaign which aims to promote Butte and change some of the negative perceptions of The Mining City from the inside out.

Butte, Montana is lending its Instagram account to residents in an ad campaign called “Butte. Elevated,” It’s an attempt to use social media’s power to promote Butte and change some of the negative perceptions of The Mining City from the inside out.

"And really decided we needed to do some focused marketing on encouraging people within the community to have a more positive attitude about their community," Says Kristen Rosa, Economic Development Coordinator for the Butte/Silver Bow  Community Economic Development office.

Rosa's agency, along with others in the business and tourism industry, set up the Instagram account. "Butte Elevated" allows local residents to become temporary "grammers," adopting the city’s Instagram account for a week at a time with the ability to post their own photographs of life in Butte. The idea was borrowed from Butte’s neighbors to the north.

"We came up with 'Butte. Elevated' after having listened to a presentation by Anchorage, it’s called 'I Love Anchorage.' They do a very similar program where they have an Instagram account, and they adopt it out to folks for a week, and really, that Instagram account, especially the 'Butte. Elevated' Instagram account is about living, and working, and playing in Butte, Montana. What does that look like for an average everyday citizen," Rosa asks, "not necessarily just someone who works just on marketing?"

Rosa says there weren’t any preconceived notions on what they expected.

"Really, we didn’t necessarily go in with, you know, a target to say we want to show Butte is beautiful," says Rosa. "We really wanted to just be able to show Butte is diverse"

The "Butte. Elevated" campaign has been up and running since June, generating positive images of everyday life in the Mining City; photos of families on hikes, local wildlife, historic uptown buildings at sunset, things like that.

So far the campaign has had positive feedback from the community. Butte Resident Maria Porchervina became an Instagram "grammer" last summer, posting photos of her husband in the backcountry and some of her granddaughter at the county fair. I asked her about the experience.

"That was our first shot, was one that introduced us and said who we were, which my husband laughed, ‘What are we doing?" Porchervina said. "What are we doing this for? ‘Go with it, Mike, just, just go with it.’ And then we had the Butte/Silver Bow County Fair that weekend, and she was getting her face painted, so, of course grandma thinks she’s the best thing next to sliced bread and frozen orange juice, so had to have a picture of that. So it was just a little glimpse into what it’s like to be in your mid fifties, living in Butte, Montana, where I’m blessed to have my children and grandchildren here in this community with me.”

Face painting at the Butte Silver Bow County Fair. Brewfest setting up. Music pkaying, rides going, fair food eating. #butteelevated @mariapochervina A photo posted by Butte. Elevated. (@butte.elevated) on Aug 6, 2016 at 11:37am PDT

Like anywhere, there are differing views of what "place" represents, and not all residents share the squeaky-clean image that officials might hope for. That has brought some apprehension about handing over the city’s account to just anyone on a leap of faith.

Again, Kristen Rosa with the economic development office.

"A little bit, yes," Rosa says. "Again, I would harken back to the Anchorage account. Those were questions we asked them and they said they did not experience anything really negative with it, either. So, yes, there is always a leap of faith when you say here’s a password to a social media account. Have at ‘er for a week."

#workelevated The meaning of "How She Goin'?" An old time miner came into our store today and saw this magnet. He asked me if I really knew what the saying on the magnet meant? So he shared his story... The starting shift of Miners would ask the ending shift " How she goin'? meaning how did the mine produce today, their reply was "She go good" if it was a good day. If it wasn't so good their reply was " I need a "Boiler Maker" ( a shot & a beer) #butteminingstories #goodstoriestotell A photo posted by Butte. Elevated. (@butte.elevated) on Nov 9, 2016 at 3:47pm PST

Cooper Fisher, Social Media Director for the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau admits that they are very careful with who gets to actually take over the account. 

"They aren’t necessarily hand-picked," says Fisher. "They are people who we have either thought of, people who have already come to us with an expressed interest, people who have come up based on recommendations. It’s not necessarily that they’re hand picked ... it’s that they have ... they’ve  just been chosen."

There has been some hijacking of the hashtag #ButteElevated on social media, such as a photographer who posted a view of the Berkley Pit with his middle finger in the foreground, but things like that don’t happen very often. Mostly, folks have been using the hashtag to post their own positive photographs and Butte experiences on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, spreading the word through more of a grassroots effort.

According to Fisher, there has been a steady climb in the use of the #ButteElevated hashtag on social media over the past several months.

A photo posted by Butte. Elevated. (@butte.elevated) on Nov 13, 2016 at 6:34pm PST

"The biggest surprise, I would say, is the community reception. So far, it’s been huge. People asking how to get involved, how to be a part of it. How they can use this 'Butte. Elevated' idea in their businesses, in their daily life. It’s taken off."  

There are plans to open up access to who can adopt the account starting at the end of the year, and requests are being taken for consideration. You can see pictures from the "Butte. Elevated" campaign here:

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