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What I'd Do
Why Resort Marketers Shouldn’t Read Mashable This Summer

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I sometimes feel I do too much critiquing and too little suggesting. Like, somehow, I’m the 400 pound, mullet-sporting guy on his 3rd beer at the baseball game yelling at the 2nd baseman to hustle. So, every once in a while on a Wednesday I’ll try to balance the scales a bit and put my own ideas up for display, analysis, and critique. (view all ‘WID’ posts).

We need to be honest about something that we may not want to be honest about. Social media news sites. We all seem to love them, but we also need to remember that they make money by getting eyeballs. They get eyeballs by reporting stuff that is exciting, controversial, and/or fringe. The boring, everyday stuff? They don’t care because we don’t care.

It’s like your local news. Ironically, they report things not because they occur frequently and might impact our daily lives, they report things that are extremely rare becauese that gets our attention. What’s the problem with that? As Dan Gilbert put it in a TED talk about “mistaken expectations”:

“Two things are vastly underestimated: dying by drowning and dying by asthma. Why? When was the last time that you picked up a newspaper and the headline was, “Boy dies of Asthma?” It’s not interesting because it’s so common… Drownings and asthma deaths don’t get much coverage. They don’t come quickly to mind, and as a result, we vastly underestimate them.”

So, if I want to make money as a social media marketing news site, I need traffic. If I need traffic, I need amazing headlines. Covering the drowning and asthma deaths of the social media world won’t do me much good. I need drama, I need bold claims, I need big-time news. Even covering something that goes against the flow, like a marketing failure, isn’t my first choice because keeping the buzz high ensures demand for my news organization.

Again, like other news, the irony for us is that they report certain social media events not because they occur frequently and might impact our daily decisions, they report things that are extremely rare and highly unlikely because that gets our attention.

A Quick Example
Simply Zesty recently published an article with the title, “Hotel Makes Over $1 Million In 24 Hours Using Facebook Offers”. Sounds like something you’d want to click on, right? Here’s the problem, when they printed their article, the hotel hadn’t made a single cent, the author simply took the average room rate and multiplied it by the people that clicked “cliam offer” (no money changes hands and there is no obligation when somone clicks).

Then, someone did the math and found out that, based on the total rooms available and expiration date, there is no way the hotel could even make a million dollars if everyone tried to redeem the offer. The headline caught your eye but the claims were empty and false. But what if the headline was accurate and read, “Hotel Gets Lots of Clicks on Facebook Offer, No Revenue Yet”. Is that an article you’d want to read? See the issue here?

The Problem
The problem is that too many of us rely on the news to formulate our expectations of two things. First, how many people are successful in social media marketing. Second, how successful they really are.

Even worse, when we justify our stances, we’ll refernces these same news sources as “proof” of what we’re doing because, more often than not, we don’t have the data to prove it ourselves. Ever wonder why you see so many “how to convince your boss” social media articles? Well, when people rely on information outside the social news sphere, they aren’t as convinced as marketers are. Can you blame them?

It’s like having sat next to the late Billy Mays on a plane ride and listening to him go on and about an incredible new vegetable peeler. Then wondering why your spouse isn’t as excited as you are when you get home.

The Solution
I believe part of the solution is to take a break from these news sources for a few months. Do just enough to stay up on major trends and news, but take a step back. What I keep seeing is resorts that are, as Jay Baer put it, expecting social media to be a magic wand.

It’s not. Each site is a very different and very unique tool. Just like a saw, hammer, or drill. Twitter is much more like a screwdriver than a Leatherman. You can’t simply post the same content to four different sites and expect miracles.

What I’d recommend is stop trying to be a wizard and start being a carpenter. Take a couple weeks to dig through last season’s data. Ask some tough questions about your performance and what role social played. You won’t do yourselve any favors if you redo the numbers a few times until you get the results you want.

Then, start from scratch. Draw up a 2-3 year blueprint by FIRST deciding what you want your marketing goals to be and THEN looking in your marketing toolbox and deciding which tools can help you get there. Maybe social will be a perfect fit. Maybe it won’t. If it’s not, don’t force a hammer to do a saw’s job.

That’s what I’d do…

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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