Pumpkins to Pastries Trail: Halton’s social path to local businesses

MichelleBrady    October 28, 2016

On Sept 22 my trip to The Toronto Premium Outlets in Halton Hills included a surprise lunch! That day Halton Region hosted an event promoting local agricultural and retail businesses. Grilled cheese, pumpkin soup and pumpkin brittle were amongst the tasty offerings. Next to the complimentary samples there was a “selfie spot” sign for the Pumpkins to Pastries Trail, also known as #p2ptrail which caught my attention. Selfie photos taken at any of the 37 Trail locations (featured on the Halton Region website) and posted on social media with tag #p2ptrail were entered into weekly contests. Gift basket prizes from local vendors have been awarded to the contest winners. This program ran from Sept 12 through to Oct 31, 2016.

I had an opportunity to speak with Gino Alborino, Manager of Social and Digital Media at Halton Region. In our conversation we reviewed objectives, channels, metrics and reporting in regards to the #p2ptrail initiative.


Halton Region’s goals for the #p2ptrail campaign are twofold. They have been to raise awareness of local agriculture and businesses with residents as well as to “increase tourism to Halton from outside regions (such as Toronto) to experience the Harvest Season.”1 By holding a contest, opportunities for engagement are created with the community and visitors. Traffic driven to the Region’s website for contest details are measured and additional traceable actions in the form of social mentions and tags are made. Trail stop businesses have links to their company websites and visitors can select locations categorized as Fall Events & Attractions, Farms, Farmers’ Markets, Bakeries, Cafes, Retail and Restaurants.2

Channels and Metrics

“Social media metrics should be carefully aligned with organizational goals, driving social media behavior that will contribute to these goals’ achievement.”3 Goals have been considered and set in order to benefit the Tourism sector of Halton Region. The publicity of the Pumpkins to Pastries Trail program has been amplified this year by an elevated social media focus from previous years. Thousands of postings to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram have been made and video promotions on YouTube have been instrumental in driving higher traffic and program awareness.

Google Analytics is Halton’s primary means of measuring website traffic and the Region has also made effective use of conversion tracking with a pixel on their Facebook site. Further explanation is documented in this Facebook Business video. This information is used to gather visitor demographics and track specific actions on their website. Subsequent marketing efforts can be tailored for their Facebook feeds and relevant data on the number of visitors is also available. In this case “consumption metrics”4 are being used for a specific campaign with defined date parameters. Sharing metrics”5 are also tabulated from contest selfie posts made to social media tagged with #p2ptrail.


At the time of this article the #p2ptrail campaign metrics had not been finalized however, Gino Alborino was able provide some high level statistics.

We received close to 20k visits to our website throughout the campaign with close to 30% of the referral traffic derived from Facebook. The number of visits represent a 25% increase over previous years.6

Reports extracted from Google Analytics and high level summaries will be presented in a post mortem meeting. Data gathered can be analyzed in order for Halton to make adjustments and find opportunities for improvement. Halton Region will be able to show traffic growth from previous years as well as offer more details on participant demographics. Past comparative data will improve performance and expectations for subsequent programs.

A balanced mix of organic and paid social media advertising along with an engaged audience through the use of hashtags has led to a more effective campaign. Once our statistics have been fully compiled and analysed, this data will inform future campaigns.7

Lessons for Others

Incorporating additional channels of social media has increased community engagement as more opportunities for exposure and more incentives (i.e. contests) attract involvement.

Campaign-focused metrics are useful to calculate a business’ ROI for specific marketing initiatives. Consumption metrics to monitor activity (such as purchases or site visits) can be gathered from customized tracking pixels.

Repeat campaigns can greatly benefit from additional data collection, both benchmarks and goals are identified more easily, and expectations can be set accordingly.

Social metrics can be calculated with customized and intelligent parameters. As more businesses focus their efforts on recovering social media data this area will continue to grow and offer invaluable demographics that traditional research has not been able to; faster, better, and less expensively.

Organization: Halton Region
Industry: Municipal Government
Name of Organization Contact: Gino Alborino, Manager, Social and Digital Media

Authored by: Michelle Brady

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


  1. Alborino, G. (Oct 31, 2016) [interview].
  2. Halton Region. (2016) Re. Pumpkins to Pastries Trail [website link]. Retrieved on October 30, 2016 from http://www.halton.ca/cms/One.aspx?portalId=8310&pageId=119436
  3. Carr, P. (2016) Re: Social Media Metric content material. University of Waterloo, SMBP. [website]. Retrieved on October 30, 2016 from Marketing Metrics material.
  4. Baer, Jay (2012). Re. A field guide to the 4 types of content marketing metrics. Content Marketing Institute. [SMBP Social Media Metrics Content Material] Retrieved from LinkedIn SlideShare http://www.slideshare.net/jaybaer/a-field-guide-to-the-4-types-of-content-marketing-metrics
  5. Baer, Jay (2012). Re. A field guide to the 4 types of content marketing metrics. Content Marketing Institute. [SMBP Social Media Metrics Content Material] Retrieved from LinkedIn SlideShare http://www.slideshare.net/jaybaer/a-field-guide-to-the-4-types-of-content-marketing-metrics
  6. Alborino, G. (Nov 1, 2016) [email].
  7. Alborino, G. (Nov 1, 2016) [email].