Organic Visibility

                Brad Holland - Internet Business and Branding Consultant


Manta Ray Bay Resort, Yap Micronesia

What You'll Find

The measurement of any project is the effect it had on the business it was performed for - the net effect of this project was more readers getting in touch with the business and subsequently, more sales.

The website connects more prospect visitors with the resort and has a lead conversion rate of almost 100% which means the right people are taking action from the webpages. This case study walk-through includes my ideas with a lot of web content and photography production as well as social media marketing. In the long version I explain the strategy and follow through of each action.

Website Performance Optimization.

Dive Blogging: Custom Content and Web Marketing for Manta Ray Bay Resort - case span: 7/2012 to 4/2013

The Manta Ray Bay Resort is Yap Island's original dedicated dive facility, hotel, restaurant, bar and spa. I was invited to provide Manta Ray Bay with content creation and strategic publishing that increases the resort's visibility. The mission was to connect more divers with the resort using custom content, social media and creative Internet marketing.

This marketing program showcases the destination, activities and operation to divers through the web and social networks. When someone comes across Manta Ray Bay content, it is fresh, attractive and leads to desirable actions. This lead to more traveling divers being exposed to the business' content and an increase in activity that correlates with revenue.

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Web Content, SEO and Publishing

This project was initiated after a chat with Bill and my recommendation to have an active blog showing researching travelers what it looks like at the operation today.

Before making a purchase decision most people research the destination and accommodations; the suggestion was to have, at least, an attractive blog showing the recent diving activity with content that inspires action.

Example Manta Ray Bay Blog Post


I keep the resort's blog active with my photography and latest dive reports.

This is a tool for people who are making purchase decisions and want to know what the action looks like, today.

I post dive reports, guest stories and my own "Yap Status Report" articles that demonstrate Yap diving's Brand attributes - clear water, consistent ray interaction, sharks and high-quality macro.

These blog posts give readers a current view of the action in the water as well as support and grow search engine rankings.

Manta Ray Bay Resort Blog

New Web Pages

Most destinations have activities, amenities or events that are part of the value proposition.

Yap has the most intact traditional culture out of the Micronesian dive destinations.

I photographed and wrote a landing page for Yap Day, the island's most celebrated cultural event.

Landing pages are recommended for events, amenities or activities that deserve to be clearly communicated to attract visitors.

Yap Day 2013 Article

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Driving Revenue Related Activity

In every presentation created you will find a call out element driving the user to perform a revenue related action, i.e. call, send an email or book online. Custom graphics were created as part of this project that gel with the look and feel of the website, stand out in the presentation and call the user to take action.

This activity is measured by the number of people connecting with the business. After creating and publishing these graphics there was a noticeable increase in the amount of leads coming into the office from website pages and facebook posts. Increased performance of the same web pages with existing traffic figures.

Yap Day promotional graphic   Yap / Palau special trip promotional graphic   Kids Sea Camp promotional graphic   Call to the most desired website action graphic  

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Social Media

Manta Ray Bay became the most liked and active dive business facebook page in Micronesia with several months of consistent publishing activity. Engaged users increased by several hundred fans a month.

Social networking consisted of regular photo posts of the diving, strategic publishing and connecting with Mares® on a special initiative.

Custom Facebook strategic viral graphic post

Getting Strategic

After learning about Yap's protective legislation creating a Manta Ray sanctuary, I created a custom graphic specifically for a viral facebook post.

I obtained a copy of the laws and created a timely post that followed a wave of manta ray related social activity from the CITES initiative protecting migratory species.

This strategic post is the highest viewed, most shared and had the farthest reach out of all social networking activity up to that point.

When activity is generated such as this, it creates an opportunity to ride the wave of action in the social network with follow up strategic posts and development.

Follow up activity and additional content about Yap's manta ray preservation initiative can be maximized with this kick-off post.

Organic Viral Performance and Reach

This one strategic message out performed all other posts by almost nine times. With the month's activity sorted by reach descending, the strategic graphic significantly out performed all other photo posts.

The next post down in the table below is a funny photo from Bill's birthday with captions and the next two are manta ray photos from cleaning station dives.

The social media traction experienced here was created organically - no give-aways, free stuff or contests were implemented to get Manta Ray Bay's facebook page fired up.

Top Post Activity on Manta Ray Bay Facebook

Connecting Networks

Mares® is heavily supported by Manta Ray Bay and I chose to contribute media and offer a branding opportunity through a custom Mares® facebook photo album. Photos were branded with the Mares® Diving Center logo and posted to the album several times a week.

Example Mares photo album post on Manta Ray Bay Resort Facebook page

Manta Ray Bay website statistics of referring sites

Gaining Momentum in Social Media

This activity was shared on the Mares® facebook page pushing Manta Ray Bay and Yap diving media across the Mares® network newsfeed as well as branding the resort as a Mares® dive center to Manta Ray Bay fans and followers.

Facebook became the number one referrer of website traffic according to Google Analytics, bumping organic traffic from popular search engines and other top referring sites.

Social media activity worked as a spotlight for Manta Ray Bay on the Internet and mobile devices delivering tens of thousands of impressions to divers each week.

The Manta Ray Bay facebook page received regular maintenance, updates and photography additions averaging 1 to 4 posts per day.

Along with status updates, photo posts and replying to comments custom cover photos and strategic communication graphics were created to increase likes and drive the most desired action.

Social networking activity started from, pretty much a standstill, and ramped up to daily activity delivering impressions deep into a growing fan base network.

Getting traction in the space was the heavy lifting - with a growing number of facebook fans the Manta Ray Bay page activity climbs steadily with reasonable attention and post activity.

Measurable Impact

The most desired action in this case is to get viewers to contact Bill for more information about visiting the region, which typically results in a positive sales discussion or conversion.

Manta Ray Bay Facebook header screenshot

Leveraging Traction

When spikes in social media activity are created the opportunity to catch the wave and leverage it for maximum benefit are seized with more custom content, marketing graphics and Yap photography. Here in the last week of May the amount of activity skyrocketed and while the wave was breaking, I launched a special offer graphic that was viewed by thousands of divers within hours.

Manta Ray Bay Resort Facebook stats for May 2013 Manta Ray Bay Resort Facebook Special Offer Graphic

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The media created here had a specific target quality value. The very first underwater photo was professional. This makes the diving and underwater business world unique in this aspect. Photography for online marketing purposes needed to be taken seriously by divers and measure up to the expectations of dive media consumers. I call it a "5 to 7" on a scale from 1 to 10, none of these photos are going to win a contest, however for the web and mobile device distribution these weigh in with solid marketable value to researching dive travelers.

For an updated album of this project, see my facebook photo share: Diving Yap

Manta Rays at Stammtisch

Diving Vertigo with a school of reef sharks

Diving in Yap offers a few key things:

- A year-round Manta Ray population
- A healthy reef shark population
- Exotic macro and other marine life, as well as
- Clear blue water

When presenting the diving, these defining characteristics are reinforced and demonstrated in the media.

When consuming content over the web or a mobile device, users judge a presentation in a few seconds and determine if they like it or not.

The goal here is to present Yap diving and make viewers want to participate. In 3 seconds or less the answer to "Would you like to be in that picture?", should be Yes.

Positive reader feedback and virality of the media are the rulers used to measure publishing success.

Face to face with a grey reef shark in Yap

Diving M'il channel with Manta Ray Bay Guests

Media development that makes divers want to be there.

My media provides a "shotgun style" ride-a-long view of the diving, destination activities and operation.

That's what it looked like on the shore or reef with people, divers, the day's conditions and wildlife.

Photography and Brand Messaging

Key messaging is framed in the photos published. Yap is one of the only places in the world where any given day you can have an arm's distance encounter with a Manta Ray.

I capture that message in my photography creating a "don't take my word for it" presentation consistently showing Mantas and divers within close proximity.

Other messages included in this case are the population and frequency of natural shark encounters as well as exotic sea life sightings that divers travel the world to see.

Dive Blogging

Each time I hit the boat dock I bring back a story and photos of wherever we dive and whatever we dive with demonstrating the conditions, environment and sea life, then positively present it with solid promotional value.

Underwater journalism is what this is, I bring back the story of what's going on out there including guest reactions, wildlife encounters, even some bloopers.

Every dive is a mission to return with a useful experience and media that showcases positive attributes that fuel promotional activity. This kind of media development ranges from writing engaging dive reports, to stories showcasing the performance of the dive guides or boat staff, documenting wildlife encounters, demonstrating the conditions or even humorous stories just to make readers smile.

Productive Wildcard Media Creation

All of this activity results in useable media somehow.

In some cases the media simply backs up a story of what we saw, such as a distant shot of a huge Silvertip shark, that is valuable as part of the day's dive report, and other times the conditions and wildlife encounters result in media that can replace last year's brochure photos.

Face to face with a spotted eagle ray in Yap
Grey Reef Shark belly
Carpet anemone   Nurse Shark under the coral

Outer reef drift diving with guests of Manta Ray Bay   Yap Cuttlefish
Big Silky Shark among divers

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Brochure / Print Media Communication

Brochure and print media communication consulting was provided and several of my photos were used, including the brochure cover shot of a Manta Ray at the local cleaning station dive. Yap dive operators have a broader mission of promoting the destination in their marketing and communication strategy. Other tier one destinations the operators are splitting hairs trying to win more business from the destination's traffic. The original material sold the hotel and my recommendations were to sell the diving and demonstrate it.

Manta Ray Bay Resort 2013 / 2014 Diving Brochure Manta Ray Bay Resort 2013 / 2014 Diving Brochure Manta Ray Bay Resort 2013 / 2014 Diving Brochure Manta Ray Bay Resort 2013 / 2014 Diving Brochure Manta Ray Bay Resort 2013 / 2014 Diving Brochure Manta Ray Bay Resort 2013 / 2014 Diving Brochure
Manta Ray Bay Resort 2013 / 2014 Diving Brochure

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Other Visibility and Communication Work

The photography and creative content was the core of this program, however there are some other supporting actions that round out this pilot project. This activity included increasing Trip Advisor reviews, creating a account with multiple boards and pins as well as publishing the quarterly Manta Report newsletter.

Trip Advisor Reviews

Manta Report Newsletter

Manta Ray Bay Trip Advisor Review photo gallery sample

While diving and networking with guests I encouraged Trip Advisor activity by offering my photos to be used in their genuine review of the diving and operation.

Direct Trip Advisor review links in multiple languages were added to follow-up emails sent to guests after their stay.

Trip Advisor reviews increased by almost 40% during the pilot program period.

Manta Ray Bay on Manta Ray Bay quarterly newsletter sample screenshot

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Third Party Content - Print and Web Destination Review: Yap, Micronesia

2014 Caradonna Micronesia Spotlight < Guest Author
Getting off the Manta Ray Bay Resort domain to present Yap Divers media to a new network, I jumped in with as a guest contributor and started my article base with a general destination review of Yap.

My article is just over 1,500 words with about 30 photos rendering a 4-5 page review that presents Yap as the exotic, unspoiled paradise that it is. With just over 1,000 divers a year coming here, the vacation is a very personal and exclusive dive experience.

My Yap review on

Print Content and Photography >
Another off-domain content project is keeping up with wholesaler material. Writing projects for wholesaler and online destination directories are constant and each of these tasks have custom requirements.

For the 2014 Caradonna worldwide catalog the presentation required ~370 words and allowed 4 photographs. The challenge is to champion the best diving attributes while communicating the resort and dive shop amenities using limited text.

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Print Advertisements

Palau / Yap diving package trade show flyer page 2 Palau / Yap diving package trade show flyer page 1 Trade Show Materials
In preparation of the European Trade Show season, an A4 double-sided spread was created to promote adding on Yap to Palau for European travelers.

This ad was created in English, German and French and delivered in print-ready Photoshop PDF files in just a few days.

I created the content, layouts and used my photography for this deliverable.

The goal here was to communicate several points; that Yap is an hour away from Palau and this is the easiest way to get multiple countries, cultures and dive experiences out of one trip as well as some key differentiators of diving Yap and Palau.

Travel advice and assistance is offered with a call to action to connect with the resort for custom itineraries.

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Custom Press Event: Media and Social Networking for Manta Ray Bay Resort - case span: 6/2013 to 6/2013

Bill was looking to jump on today's social media marketing wave to get his business up to speed on Facebook and utilize it to keep the Manta Ray Bay Resort in front of traveling divers worldwide. I created a plan, reached out online and made the connection to kick off a custom press trip that will present the Manta Ray Bay Resort to tens of thousands of divers.

Scuba Diver Girls Logo

Networking online is still networking - it's activity between social connections... so I made some social connections and got to marketing planning. I arranged a custom digital press event with scuba diving's social media celebrities, the Scuba Diver Girls.

Scuba Diver Girls Yap Press Event Scuba Diver Girls Yap Press Event Scuba Diver Girls Yap Press Event Scuba Diver Girls Yap Press Event

Communicating the Message

On the business end of this dive week was a measured exposure plan that would communicate the Yap diving experience as well as Manta Ray Bay's amenities and services through rich media and written articles. The social media marketing plan was to weave together social networks that included the Scuba Diver Girls', Mares® as well as the Manta Ray Bay's Facebook feeds.

Scuba Diver Girls Yap Press Event Scuba Diver Girls Yap Press Event Scuba Diver Girls Yap Press Event Scuba Diver Girls Yap Press Event

Calculated Return on Investment

This dive party was structured with a framework of minimum exposure requirements that included daily updates, sharing of Facebook posts, a trip report and placement on the Scuba Diver Girls website. Prior to the media week I created the plan and outlined each exposure thread with minimum runtimes of 1 week to 1 year that provide ongoing exposure for Manta Ray Bay through the growing online networks until June of 2014.

Scuba Diver Girls Yap Press Event Scuba Diver Girls Yap Press Event Scuba Diver Girls Yap Press Event Scuba Diver Girls Yap Press Event


The mission here was to combine social networks and drive custom media into the social networks. During the press week as well as in the follow up posts Manta Ray Bay experienced record online activity. Likes, shares, comments and all things Facebook skyrocketed which also drove traffic back to the website through blog posts and links.

Scuba Diver Girls Yap Press Event Scuba Diver Girls Yap Press Event Scuba Diver Girls Yap Press Event Scuba Diver Girls Yap Press Event

Media Virality and Branding

Mares Facebook Header

Mares Facebook Page

A steady stream of photography, video clips and custom articles hit the Internet communicating to a combined fan base of over 500,000 people. All roads led back to the stakeholders, Yap Divers promotion and Mares branding were the center point of this project - Mares® is a supporter of Manta Ray Bay Resort and the gear sponsor of the Scuba Diver Girls.

Special Event Coverage - Real Time Publicity - case span: 8/2013 to 9/2013

Manta Ray Bay Resort hosts an annual photography contest called Manta Fest: It's two weeks of professional photography workshops, personal training, diving, island tours, evening media presentations and fun. Manta Ray Bay Resort is a unique venue for a special event and my work was to present and promote this contest from the customer's perspective.

Manta Ray Bay's readership and social network of fans were able to ride shotgun at this year's photography contest through daily write-up's of the activity, diving and education.

Complete Event Coverage

At Manta Fest are 5 pro-presenters who are offering workshops as well as one-on-one training. Each day the pro's are assigned to a boat and the customers get the opportunity to dive and mingle with each of them.

I documented the photographer's experience from the classroom, to the reef. After an evening workshop on exposure scenario's with Marty Snyderman and David Fleetham, I made sure to get on their boat in the morning and put their lessons to practice then discuss it on the Manta Ray blog.

Topside activity included the personal side of things and the fun - from working on camera gear, to the workshops and the divers on the way to the reef with their pro.

Through the communication of the contest experience, the day's conditions, sea life encountered and guest feedback were discussed and demonstrated promoting the diving in Yap as well.

Each update included the guests in the water, the pro's at work with models as well as demonstrations of the photography advice.

In and out of the water

Half of the fun is hanging out with like-minded people from all over the world in a unique social environment. I captured the guest experienece at the bar party aboard the Mnuw during the evening media presentations to present the social aspect of this event.

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Awards Presentation

The big night is the presentation of photography awards and passing out prizes and swag. Everybody wants to see the winning shots and hold their breath for their name being called. This is a photography party complete with live music and something for everyone to take home.

IMG_0407 IMG_0407 IMG_0408 IMG_0413
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All of this media was published on the blog, social media feeds and shared throughout the fan base and sponsor networks.


Manta Ray Bay received Internet business and marketing consulting, custom content generation as well as social media activity with professional photography - what I now call "dive blogging".

This business program was designed as a pilot project to demonstrate and package these services for destinations, resorts and operations through a seasonal or short-term marketing program focusing on creative content development and strategic publishing.

The end product of this work activity is new content and it's implementation using digital vehicles across web and mobile devices.

Along with creative media and strategic publishing, my consulting case studies include custom brand development, print design consulting, PR / communication, website design, search engine optimization as well as custom software projects.

I'm a 10-year veteran business consultant gone scuba diver and have made myself available for onsite Internet visibility projects to dive destinations and operations worldwide.

Bill Acker, the Manta Ray Bay and Yap Divers was the perfect platform for piloting this business program and bringing underwater photography into my service offering. The door is always open and I'm positive that we're not done being productive.

This case study includes Special Event Promotion, a Custom Press Party and Internet Business Consulting.

Project Reference:

"The biggest difference made to our marketing was the work you did that got more people to connect with me directly."

Bill Acker
Owner / Founder
Manta Ray Bay Resort & Yap Divers
Yap, Micronesia

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