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Social Media
Ski Resort Social Media Marketing Survey: Final Results

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
       

This has been one of the most interesting surveys I’ve ever done. Over the last two weeks we’ve covered every major player I had questions about – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and Pinterest – and your take on where things are at has been extremely interesting.

One of the things I really wanted to do with this survey was not just look back, but forward. I wanted to gauge resort marketers’ optimism on these channels and the role they will play with resorts going forward. Here’s what i found.

I’m not quite sure what I expected on this one, but I don’t think this will come as a huge surprise to many of you. Most folks expect resorts’ reliance on social media to grow, about 1/3 expect it to stay flat, with 7% foreseeing a drop.

But wanting to give you a chance to sound off, I asked for one final free-response take. The question was, “When you look at social media and resort marketing overall, what else do you see in terms of trends or opportunities or challenges?”

I imagine we’ll see even fewer organic posts on FB, and that Instagram will dominate the landscape. It takes a balance of content curation, building your voice and understanding your audience/analytics to make sure you’re heard through the noise. The key for some will be to remain true to what works for them and not dilute their presence over too many networks if they truly don’t have the bandwidth to be creating a constant stream of content tailored to each. Managers and directors can hire someone to do the day-to-day mgmt, but need to stay informed of the emerging trends on each platform and who is engaging with or consuming your content. [Also, know when it’s time to step away and hire someone who is invigorated by the pace of SM and the level of follower interaction.]

It’s a cheap, mostly free, opportunity to market to a wide range of people especially when using multiple social platforms.

Ever changing algorithms and reaching who you want to reach.

Staying ahead of change. First movers win, complainers lose.

Teams are becoming more media based pumping out more content than ever. There are more avenues to be shared on a wider scale and work collaboratively with brands and influencers.

It’s a constant battle navigating the algorithm. Producing content that lives on FB is always the best bet.

Growing focus on special offers linked only to non-indexed web pages b/c social media analytics are erratic and platforms don’t always jibe with Google Analytics

Parlaying the activity we see in winter into summer. It’s difficult to maintain the same level of interest throughout the summer months…It’s obviously much more difficult now getting things to be seen organically. With a limited digital ad budget, I’m really pressed to create content that’s different, appealing and fun but maintains the message we’re trying to get out.

Higher quality content and utilizing skilled content creators has become increasingly important rather just posting to post. Differentiated brand voices have also become increasingly important as resorts have a direct touchpoint to guests.

Content!

The challenge is being seen. It’s become a pay-to-play landscape in many ways and trying to set yourself apart from every other brand that is trying to be seen is a challenge. It’s an inviting challenge because the resorts doing it well will rise to the top but in that pay-to-play arena, it’s very difficult to compete against brands with giant social budgets.

Social Media is both a unique challenge and prime opportunity for resort marketing. On one hand, it’s a semi-transparent and easy way to update your audience on important deals, conditions, information, etc. On the other hand, it’s a money pit that shows less return than digital and seems to breed negativity from today’s America. I think it’s a key way to cultivate a culture for your following, but only as long as they’re listening. When they hop off the platforms, usefulness declines. Since it’s my job, I’d like to think it’s not going anywhere and I’m not irrelevant, but I think we as marketers have to be deft.

Social is now and will continue to be super cluttered, users will be annoyed at and distrustful of paid ads. Resorts will need to utilize the power of employees to bring more organic content to other’s newsfeeds through sharing and engaging. Social will once again revolve around personal connection, and recognition of the people guests see in real life, be it their favorite liftie or bartender, will be important for creating engaging stories. This will change the face of influencers even further and create characters and personalities through social. Although “personalities” have been par for the course at most destinations to the core guest, they will and should be presented so even the not-so-frequent guest can be a part of
the social culture, in turn making them want to come back for more.

How a social platforms demo changes as it ages has been the most interesting. For resorts with a standard 35-55 yo with 2 kids demo early adoption has been less beneficial but certainly has paid off when “mom an dad are now on (insert social platform”. With respect to social media it seems that early adoption and sincere effort pays off in the long run. Also, we are seeing a significant increase in Google+ engagement.

Instant connectivity, quick sales… challenge is the more you give the more people want…

“Voice” is critical. Maintaining it is hard.

A challenge is the delay in communicating real time conditions. There’s sometimes a day’s lag between when we publish and when it starts to pick up traction with our audience. The other current challenge is the disadvantage of business/page posts. I’m usually seeing our posts liked by friends before i see our own posts pop up in my newsfeed. Creating and nurturing virtual communities that surround our brand is imperative going forward.

Paid Social Media makes it easier to do our own ad buys without needing to pay an outside agency, however we will be forced to continue to pay more into social media to attain the same value we previously saw in organic.

People really love the authenticity that social can provide. We get bent out of shape sometimes about image quality and is every aspect of this video perfect, and then a shaky, blurry IG story ends up being more engaging.

There is a huge opportunity for niche specific social media outlets especially with the fall of the “giants.” Opportunities abound using new “modules” with current media platforms such as FB groups–but to create a clear and authentic voice is still something that many resorts need to work on, ours included.

More features are being introduced every year, it’s a struggle for small to medium sized marketing teams to keep up with the amount of content they’d like to produce.

I think that while social media is very useful at the moment, and is still on the rise in some ways, it will probably eventually plateau and become the status quo. There is only so much more that can be done to improve it.

Paid will grow and will get more targeted, conversions will increase – but it’s going to continue to evolve into a pay to play system.
obviously it is great to deliver real-time, “fun” information to the guest and really showcase with no BS what we can offer, but the flip side is guests expect us to be on at all times and use as a forum to express their opinions

That’s a really great question!

Social media will be even more influential in the next three years. We’ll have to rely on heavier advertising budgets due to varying algorithms on social sites, but I still see it as a highly effective tool. I’d love to see someone make strides in better conversion/stats on social reporting.
Content generation teams: you can’t have just one person contributing anymore. And from a customer relationship standpoint, if resorts don’t get on board to create a system of guest service via DMs, guests will only become more and more frustrated.

Personalization

Challenges – the continually changing Facebook algorithm decreases brand page visibility. But I think people have their lives so intertwined with the platform that it will continue to be relevant to advertising. Perhaps the marketplace is an opportunity for ticket sales?

The challenge for our smaller resort is retaining the talent to create QUALITY video content that is on-brand.

Amazon! What are they going to do in the social/FIT business space. I know they just moved into Expedia’s space in Seattle!

Challenge in algorithm. Organic reach has dropped significantly since the change.

They are all scammers

If I had to choose a few that most closely aligned with my take on things, it’d be these (which I didn’t include in the list above):

It’s a conundrum…we want to be able to reach people through social media, then we want them to come ski and ride and be active so they can get away from their devices, then use social media to tell their friends how much fun they had.

Paid, paid, and more paid. Migrating towards a pure paid advertising model, albeit one that is highly targeted with a solid ROAS. Organic is still the backbone for a successful paid advertising model and ongoing guest interaction. Video is the underpinning of the most successful strategies in the space.

Lots of opportunities to reach snow enthusiasts on social platforms for now, but I am weary that a usage decline is on the horizon. I am sure something new will be out in a few years that completely alters the social landscape.

In other words:

  • Social is in many ways at odds with the product we sell.
  • These sites are businesses and we are their customers, so paid will continue to grow
  • But I can’t help but think that a shift is coming in the next ~3 years.

So, that’s a wrap.

Any last thoughts? Takes? Predictions? Leave them in the comments below.



  • Brandon von Guenthner

    Thank you, Greg and industry marketers for taking the time to share thoughts on these platforms. It is beneficial for us as service providers to understand how you perceive opportunities and challenges.

    I think the good news is social platforms must continue to improve on their ability to connect your content with the right audience or face the wrath of stock collapse. The industry giants of their time have gone extinct by not evolving, and it is no doubt that trend will continue. Billions are being spent to figure out the perfect balance of exposure that will keep the money rolling in. After all, it’s good business to spend money as long as the short term perception is we are making more of it. :)

    There are also billions being spent on tools to help you capture and share your most influential content. Tools that will allow you to do it more dynamically, more adeptly and at a quality that pushes harder to engage and inspire.

    As unorthodox, as it sounds we must never stop inspiring humanity with content pushed to their phones to get them off their phones. At the end of the day beyond all this money and all the advancement in technology, as human beings, our existence is much more than 1-dimensional experiences, and as long as people keep going to the mountains and traveling, they won’t stop.

    From a third party perspective, I hope to see more industry-wide content collaboration pushing collectively. It is not just about getting people to your mountain that is challenge. It’s getting them to the mountains at all.

  • Earl Weingarden

    The problem many marketers have with social media is that theirs isn’t
    very social. It’s basically advertising in social media clothing. Put your customers at the core of your social media efforts.
    Make them the stars. Then an amazing thing will happen. They will
    become your ambassadors. And, fancy this, you will see an increase in
    engagement for your own content. A mixture of UGC and YourGC increases YourGC engagement by 28% (Comscore).

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