Over the last couple of years I’ve had bits and pieces of this conversation with marketers, friends, and even family, but with the topic coming up yet again just a week ago, I wanted to put my simple plan down on paper.
The question was simply:
“We’re a small ski area, we don’t have bandwidth for much. What should I be doing in terms of social media?
I’ll break my answer up into two parts.
Answer #1) Nothing
The first thing to remember is that you don’t have to do anything with social media.
Social media is a few things, but at its core it’s simply a distribution channel. If you have messages you think would fit Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or whatever? Great.
But if not? Don’t force it.
Also keep in mind that you don’t have to have social media profiles in order to “be” social as a brand, but that’s another topic for another day.
Answer #2) This
If I were at a small ski area and were a GM or marketer and wanted to get social going for my brands, I’d do five things.
#1) Take One Instagram 4x a Week
If you wanted a bit of structure to spark ideas, I’d rotate between four subjects:
There’s a ton of overlap between those, so you could very well take a photo before the mountain opened (behind the scenes) of you (vicarious) following the snowmakers (people) as they get a new trail open (the skiing), but if you can regularly hit those subjects you’ll have a good mix.
Also, don’t go out of your way to do this, just go about your day as normal and keep your eyes opened for unique images. Then, take a moment capture a simple photo.
#2) Autoshare to Facebook and Twitter
Then, on that last page, check the Facebook and Twitter buttons so it autoshares to both.
This assumes you have both accounts already created. If you do, great. If you don’t, I’d pass on Twitter and go for the 1-2 punch of Instagram and Facebook.
#3) Put Upcoming News in the Caption
Don’t worry about length. If you’re sharing to Twitter you’ll get a truncated tweet like the one below (at least for now, that may chance soon), but that’s okay. Nearly 20% of resort tweets are from Facebook and they get above-average retweets. In other words, some marketers hate it, but normal people don’t.
4" of fresh was just what the doctor ordered for Mega Monday. The off-piste terrain is super fun… https://t.co/TUQ58TxL7t
— 49DegreesNorth (@49DegreesNorth) January 4, 2016
Fill your caption with news, events, deals, etc. It might go something like this.
“Our snowmakers are hard at work to get a good base on Harry’s Dream. Once it’s ready we’ll have 90% of the mountain open just in time for this week’s Full Moon, Half Price night skiing deal on Thursday and the Space Rail Jam this weekend.”
Try to keep it to 2-3 sentences, but going longer is fine if needed.
#4) Turn Off Notifications, Check 1-2x a Day
Turn off mobile notifications for any apps on your phone and turn off email notifications on the sites directly. Engagement from your fans can wait a few hours. It’s okay. Really.
Then, twice a day – maybe at lunch and right before you leave for the day – give your accounts a quick check, like some of your favorite comments on Facebook or replies on Twitter (if there are any) and reply to the 1-2 most important.
Take no more than 5 minutes each time you check. If you use your phone when nature calls, that may be the perfect time to take care of this, and…ahem…other, business.
#5) Cross Promote Once a Week
Finally, once a week cross promote your accounts. You could do this as part of the caption of your daily photo, or it could be on it’s own with a “follow us on Instagram” Facebook post. This time, however, don’t autoshare between accounts.
But wait, you say, I’m posting the same content to each site!
Yes, but keep in mind how few people on any one of those sites will see each of your photos. Getting followers on one site to follow you on the other site will help each photo reach as many people as possible. A dedicated campaign to your email list can help bump up fan counts and increase visibility as well.
What This Will/Won’t Do
Add that up and you’ve got a social plan that covers the key bases of engaging with your followers and sharing interesting content, and does so in about an hour a week.
Will this keep some of your skiers informed about happenings on the mountain? Yes. Will it drive a small number of people to visit the mountain when they otherwise would not have? Yes. Will it help keep you maintain some mindshare in the social media conversation? Yes.
But will this earn you a lot of big PR wins and shares? No. Will make make you a successful David against the Goliaths in the Rockies? No. Will it drive hordes of skiers to your hill? No. Will it earn you a place on Top Photos lists or a feature on the evening news? No.
But, truth be told, social as a channel is rarely able to do that anyway.
Luckily, when you’re only spending an hour of your time each week on it, it doesn’t have to do any that to still be a good use of time.
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