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Hidden Headline from Mountain Collective Breathes Optimism for Smaller Resorts

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I typically focus on a generic, one-size-fits-all approach to many of my posts. This week, I’ll be focusing more on the smaller mountains and sharing some insights and ideas specific to them. It doesn’t mean you big guys can’t benefit, but I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for the little guys.

A few weeks back, four major resort brands (along with Liftopia) launched a new pass product called The Mountain Collective. The Tuesday morning launch was timed to perfection as a quiet social media morning soon exploded with dozens and dozens of posts, comments, RTs, shares, etc. all surrounding this one promotion. This synchronoization of efforts was impressive, but there was a hidden headline in the melee that I didn’t catch until almost two weeks later.

The tweet that caught my eye read:

“Hands down the greatest pass offer in the history of skiing and snowboarding. (via @liftopia) …” via @sacca

Why is this a big deal. Chris Sacca, one of the investors in Liftopia, tweeted it. Why is that a big deal? On the day of the Mountain Collective launch, Chris Sacca had 1,350,000 followers. Let me put that in perspective.

A Drop in the Social Bucket
When the pass was launched, these five resorts plus Liftopia had a combined 45,117 followers on Twitter. That one tweet by Chris had a potential reach that was 30x greater than Aspen/Snowmass, Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley, Alta, Jackson Hole, and Liftopia combined.

Think about that for a second…30x the reach of the combined reach of some major resort brands.

Even if every resort in the country had been so excited about the pass that they all tweeted about it, Chris’s single tweet still would have had twice the reach of the entire industry combined.

Small Resorts, This is Big
I think there are a handful of lessons to learn here, but the main one is simply this: how many fans you have is not as important as how many fans other people have.

Let me say that again with a dash of prognostication. The future of social media reach is more about how many fans and followers other people have than how many you have. Does that mean a small resort can brush off the fact that they have 2,200 fans compared to the 50,000 fans of the resort down the road? Maybe. Maybe.

Over and Over and Ov…
Here’s the thing about your fans. They’ve hear your spiel before. They’ve seen your photos, read your witty updates, and watched your videos. They are in a holding pattern of top of mind awareness.

But somewhere out in the world, there are millions of skiers that haven’t. They follow other pages, other people, other companies. The divide that separates the ability to have them tweet something about you compared to a neighboring resort, is likely not as big as the difference between the two resorts’ follower counts.

The key, I believe, going forward, will be to do things that get them to share your content. Whether that’s sharing/RTing theirs so many times they are guilt-tripped into it, creating mini partnerships to cross promote each others sales, interviewing them with the hope they’ll promote content about themselves, or awesome ideas I’m just not coming up with at the moment, small resorts should look at Chris Sacca’s tweet and say:

“Hey, I may only have 1,500 followers, but there are thousands of people with a hundred times that many. The Mountain Collective’s reach was magnified 30x by one tweet. There’s no reason that same thing couldn’t happen for my promotions as well.”

This applies to all sizes of resorts, but I think it carries an especially optimistic tone for the little guys.

  • Great one Gregg. This is a key line between mountains/businesses that are truly "winning at social", and those that are just "using social". Before hitting send on any tweet, the author should think "who other than our network (or within the network to ensure they see it) of relevance might find this to be useful?" and then cc that handle. Might it be the local baseball team, a news reporter/outlet, a celebrity, a non-profit, literally anything with a non overlapping audience. Twitter is the most powerful PR tool since the press release, but only if you aim before you fire.

    • Great follow up, Alex. That's exactly what I'm seeing. It's time to stop worrying so much about your follower count, start looking around and seeing how your content can be magnified and reach new people.

  • tendersandtrails

    Great article! This is exactly the reason why places like ski areas, adventure outfitters, and the like need to be active in social media, provide great and relevant content, and form relationships with their customers. You never know who might see that one post, tweet, video or whatever it is and decide to push it along for you, but it definitely won't happen if you don't put it out there in the first place.

  • tendersandtrails

    That's true. In the end, there is absolutely no harm in forming strong bonds with the people you interact with, whether they're investors, customers, organizations, bloggers, or a few thousand Twitter fans.

    It's funny. I always forget as a blogger how often I'm the one with that strong relationship with a specific company. I'll promote them like crazy just because they made me feel like a unique customer to them, but then on the flip side there's companies I really dislike even mentioning because I can't get a peep from them when I have a legitimate question!

  • Christian Knapp

    Great post Gregg, and not just because it referenced the Mountain Collective. Case in point, when Lance Armstrong tweeted that he was going to ride in the Aspen/Snowmass Power of Four mountain bike race on the same day he was headline news in the NY Times it crashed the website and generated incredible amounts of press and social media coverage. Trying to harness the power of social influencers is no easy task but it can be incredibly powerful if executed correctly and those relationship are cultivated over time.

    • Christian, I saw that tweet but didn't realize the consequences. That's awesome.

      • Not awesome if you're the one trying to keep the site live. Thanks to Lance's tweet and the subsequent RT's from his many popular cyclist followers, the potential reach on that tweet alone was about 12m twitter users. Did they all see it, certainly not. But it was enough to knock the load balancer for a loop and take the site down.

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