Posts tagged social media

Email Marketing – Still as Valuable as Ever

Screen Shot 2013-11-03 at 8.42.19 PMThe Park City Chamber Bureau hosted their annual Fall Tourism Symposium this past week and one of the pieces of advice posited by the keynote speaker is one that I think has a lot of merit. She noted that email isn’t being used by travel companies very well. I subscribe to a lot of emails (mostly from Ski Resorts) and most don’t send consistent emails and many go months without communicating with me which really is a missed opportunity in that a person that has opted-in to an email list is someone who wants to hear from you. So if you haven’t already, pull together a content calendar and start sending your emails on a regular basis, not just when it snows big or you have a flash lodging sale.

It’s not just that people have opted-in for your emails, it’s that they now have constant access to their email inbox via their cell phone and tablets. This is one of several points made in, the article Why Email Is Still More Effective Than Social Media Marketing. I think the Social Media part was added in more to capture attention than anything else, but its main points about the effectiveness of email marketing are very salient.

LIke

And Now Some Great Things About Social

LIkeThe previous post is about some of the problems that social media has, but I now want to highlight some of the great things that social media has brought about.

  • It’s absolutely an amazing way to find information that one would never see on their own. Some of this is amazing and some pathetic, but it’s interesting how quickly and how varied we find out about things these days.
  • Social networks have connected so many people who would never meet each other without it. This is helpful in small business segments such as resort marketing, I’ve met a ton of great resort marketers via social networks and most of them I haven’t ever met in person.
  • For brands, in particular ski resorts, social media presents nearly endless opportunities to really connect with our customers. This is obviously some of the largest impact for brands and I have to say that it feels way longer than 4 years ago that I first dove into Twitter. That winter of 2008-09 was the first winter I saw resorts using social media and it’s pretty much exploded since then because social media is such a natural fit for winter sports enthusiasts who are a passionate and engaged bunch of folks.
  • The integration of photos and videos with social media is a no brainer for resort marketing.
  • People enjoy using social media to share about their favorite winter sports, even if I often wonder if we should also encourage people to shut off their phones on the mountain so they can fully connect with the mountain, it’s still a thrill to share your experience on the slopes with your friends back home.
  • Social media is still way less expensive than buying tv spots, and is way more targeted.
  • Social media is amazingly dynamic and always evolving. To be able to keep up with the next best thing and changes in the landscape requires dedication to figuring out existing channels and recognizing each of their strong points so that it’s easier to see what will fit best with your resort/brand when a new property starts to shoot up the ranks in social media land.
  • The risk in social is tangible, but if a brand makes a mistake, acknowledges it and moves forward, it is also a very accepting and quickly forgetful space as well.

So, while it may not be the ideal world at times, it’s still not a bad place to be as a resort marketer. Stay on top of things in the social space and reap the benefits!

Photo credit: Flickr user FindYourSearch

 

The Problems With Social

As everyone is hopping on the social bandwagon, there are now a few are disembarking (even though I don’t believe him), and although I’m not one, I figured it was time to put together a list of problems that I see with social media:

  • I’ve said this for years, starting with the death of Michael Jackson, but for better or worse, Twitter seems to be the new obituary service.
  • Using location-based services without good forethought is a “welcome” sign for all sorts of potential problems for those who aren’t reputable.
  • Purportedly, something like 40% of divorces in this country now involve Facebook, uh yeah, really.
  • Social Media is the place to bitch and moan – I was speaking with an acquaintance recently who mentioned they primarily used their Twitter account to complain. Personally, I’ve made a concerted effort to try to cut down on my online complaints, but, it’s a bit hard when social is the only way to get any response in terms of customer service.
  • SPAM – it’s amazing how SPAM and even just badly played marketing efforts are now all over the various social networks. Even brand page walls on Facebook that allow others to comment have to be very alert to other companies’ posting their own marketing on their pages.
  • Privacy is not something that many people seem to be too concerned about these days, but in this post in the NY Times Bit Blog, there are some exceedingly valid points raised about privacy online (in general but in particular on social networks) and quotes a Microsoft researcher as saying,
A conversation in the hallway is private by default, public by effort. Online, our interactions become public by default, private by effort.
  • White noise is creating so much blah that people will gravitate away from open social networks to closed ones like Path, and perhaps ones just for 2, like Pair.
Is the heyday of social past? Who knows, did anyone predict MySpace, Facebook, Twitter or even Pinterest? I don’t think so. But, will users become more and more adept at filtering, tuning out and using only those channels which are fitting for them at that moment – I think so. And the true wild card – what happens when national and local regulators start to really stir the social pot? It seems the FTC’s endorsement guide which seemed to be such a big deal just a few years ago really weren’t all that much, but I doubt that will be the case for the next round, when it comes…
What do you think, is it just time to bitch and moan about social media, or has its time come?
 
Photo credit: Flickr user Bruce Clay, Inc
Gap in Tweets during vacation

Taking it With You

On a recent vacation to Hawaii, I made a conscious effort to cut back on social media use. It was a nice break from the continuous updates and checks that seem to make up a decent chunk of the day during the regular work week. In checking back now, a few months later, I’m surprised to see that in particular on Twitter, I sent no tweets during the entire trip, aside from the day of arrival and departure, take a peek:

Gap in Tweets during vacation

I also pulled stats from Tweets stats which showed interestingly that I did tweet, which is odd, but it also shows a steady increase of followers, which I suppose I could believe is true:

Tweetstats tweets and followers chart during vacation

I bring up these personal stats as I just saw the results of a recent survey which found that half of all leisure travelers update their social network status while on vacation, with 40% of them admitting that they no longer send postcards as social updates are just so much more “gratifying”. tnooz provides an excellent summary of this Ebookers survey data, which while it queried Britons, I’m sure would also apply here in the US – what do you think? And do you provide social updates while on vacation?

Go Time

After a re-invigorating break from work and blogging, I’m baaacckkk! The first topic to start back with is this interesting infographic that I found on Simplifying via Mashable which breaks out some interesting numbers on how successful airlines are in social media by virtue of how they manage their social accounts by either dedicated employees or an integrated team approach. Seems like it’s pretty obvious which direction has more success for airlines and I think it readily translates into other travel businesses including ski resorts, enjoy!

Social Media Accounts Cartoon

“Ownership” of Social Media Accounts

Social Media Accounts CartoonI didn’t think too much about the whole firing of CNN’s Rick Sanchez until I happened upon this article contemplating about the “ownership” of the various social media accounts that were an integrated and essential component to Rick’s show on CNN. Now I understand that it’s great to have a single personality behind a brand, but this case obviously shows the pitfalls of what might happen if that person leaves the company. With the Rick Sanchez case, his accounts were branded to him so that with his leaving it wasn’t that damaging (at least in my opinion) to CNN. In fact, looking now, his account has now been renamed from @ricksanchezcnn to @ricksancheznews which still retains all of the followers that his old account had – interestingly the renamed account is not “verified by Twitter” any longer.

An example of a company social media account changing hands gracefully is the Comcast @comcastcares account. That account was established by a Comcast customer service employee, Frank Eliason, who grew it into a wonderful and very popular customer service portal. However, Frank has moved on to other opportunities, and has left the account in the hands of Comcast customer service.

These are both examples in which things worked out ok. What happens if an employee is in charge of a ski resort’s Twitter and Facebook accounts and has them attached to their personal email and for whatever reason that person leaves the resort? Certainly one would expect that employee to pass those accounts along to their former employer, but in an extreme circumstance they could easily hold onto the Twitter account, or perhaps change it to suit their purposes. Same with the Facebook Pages where the account would need another admin assigned to it to take over and remove the person that has moved on, thankfully, Facebook does allow the initial page creator to be removed, a fairly recent change.

AP Tweeting

What can Ski Resorts Learn from Professional Sports about Social Media?

AP TweetingA year ago I wrote a post talking about how my favorite NFL team, the Minnesota Vikings, was then using social media. A year later, I would argue that every major and most minor sports teams are fully immersed in social media and are enjoying the benefits (and hazards) of engaging their fan base directly online. While teams can manage the engagement on their own sites and social connections, they don’t have as much control over the athletes on their teams and are looking at ways to ensure that their players are also engaging in social media with appropriate care. As the football season starts to wind up, it seems that a few football players are already posting some, uh “questionable” things, and organizations are scrambling to react – there’s a very nice description of this in an article on ESPN.com titled, “Football tweeters in midseason form” which sets forth the following advice:

As Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis, whose grandmother is one of his Twitter followers, told the Sun-Sentinel: “I’m not going to put anything on there that my grandmother won’t want to see.”

This certainly is just another reason for ski resorts to ensure that they’re putting together appropriate guidelines and resources for their employees, because this winter will only see more people posting to social media from their workplace on the mountain, whether it’s playing in powder, people dangling from lifts, getting caught up on them or nearly getting blown off of them.

8/18/10 edit – Just wanted to note that I wrote this post last weekend, well before the recent Brett Favre “un-retirement”.
Photo credit: Flickr user xoque and modified via CC2.0 Attribution
Travellers and connectivity

Staying Connected to the Web and Social Media on Vacation

Travellers and connectivityMy wife gives me a (probably well deserved) rough time about how I tend to bring my digital life with me when we’re on vacation. This has come in handy, like when I was able to pull up New York transit maps and directions up via Google Maps on our trip to NYC earlier this month, although I almost wish I’d known about this Android App. However, I know that there are definitely plenty of other times when my wife wishes I’d left my smartphone and/or laptop at home.

Now, I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who brings their tech with them, because according to this article, “Most Vacationers Stay Connected To Internet, Digital, Social Media” on MediaPost:

“No matter where vacationers migrate this summer, chances are slim that they will completely disconnect from digital media and communications.Indeed, 72.2% travelers in 2010 say they accessed the Internet, email or social media sites while on their last vacation, according to a new study from ad network Burst Media.

That represents a significant jump from 2009, when three out of five — 63.3% — travelers admitted to using the Internet while on vacation.

Men are more likely to go online while away — 76.2% — than women — 67.7%.

…”

Read the entire article on MediaPost News.

With this greater level of connectivity on vacation, what are most of these people using the web for on their vacations? Keeping in touch with friends and family is first (my guess is this is a lot of showing off the great trip Facebook photos), followed by finding information on the local destination, then came news and sports sites and finally was checking in at the office. I believe that this shows that there is a very real and quickly increasing demand for information that travelers can use once they’ve reached a destination, like the Google Maps and MTA app I mentioned earlier. What are some ways that ski resorts can develop web content/services  that cater to visitors once they’ve arrived at the resort? Are there any good examples out there? Personally, I’d love to see something along the lines of the MTA app – simple and useful!

Photo: Guilty! This is me being way too connected at work (kind of looks like vacation though).
Best and Worst - it's not Just Ski Resorts

Thoughts on SAM’s Best/Worst Advertising 2010

Sam Rufo, one of the authors of Ski Area Management magazine’s article on the Best/Worst Advertising of 2010, was kind enough to volunteer to ‘guest host’ this past week’s #mrktchat Twitterchat. For anyone who isn’t familiar with what a TwitterChat is, please take a quick read of Sam’s excellent description on her blog post, “TwitterChat 101“.  We had a good discussion about the ratings, but to some extent I think we just glossed the edges a bit, in that we never really delved very deeply into what the article.

Best and Worst - it's not Just Ski ResortsI don’t want to get into the debate of what a best/worst list is all about, after all everyone seems to do them (note, the image is just for an example, I’m not a reader of Star’s 55 Best and Worst Beach Bodies!). The article had a lot of positive and negative things to say about a variety of resort marketing efforts and called out a number of trends:

After combing through this season’s ski area ads in print, broadcast and online sources, SAM found standout campaigns in all channels, as well as some ho-hummers. We looked at branding, messaging and consumer response, and some of the most powerful advertising still derives from print and broadcast media. Creativity knows no boundaries.

Resorts that had a clear understanding of their customer demographics and the audience for each medium were able to engage, inspire and attract followers. But beyond showcasing deep powder, scenic vistas and après-ski activities, more areas are exploring their inner selves—their “social brand”—and these efforts often produced the most memorable and compelling messages.

Resorts express their personalities in a variety of ways: profiling the people who work there, showcasing the lifestyle of the locals, and using major events, from town festivals to snowboard competitions. Social media add a new strategy: letting your customers define the place in their own words and images. This creates a human connection with undeniable authenticity.

This all sounds great, but it doesn’t fully address the biggest thing advertising is about – accomplishing strategic goals and objectives. If a resort is just trying to drive database growth, then I’d say Mountain High did well with 20k plus acquisitions; even then, are these really consumers that will spent or will spend money at that resort or just a bunch of freeloaders that signed up for a contest? It’s awful hard to say one way or another as an outsider looking in.

As an interactive marketer, I’m also a bit disappointed in the examples presented as great interactive campaigns. Maybe it’s because there just isn’t enough room to go into Northstar and Sierra at Tahoe’s behavioral campaign, whoops think I meant to say re-marketing campaign, nah I like the description behavioral targeting. 😉 I thought the summaries of the Copper and Jay Peak campaigns were adequate, but to include a screen cap and a print creative for these two progressive interactive campaigns seems almost criminal – at least give us a link, I’m sure the resorts would be more than happy to post or provide creative for this piece. And I won’t even touch on the Social Media section of the piece because by only listing the ‘worst’ I can’t find anything to discuss.

I wish there was more discussion of how these advertising campaigns fit into each resort’s overall strategic objective. How these campaigns focus on each resort’s target demos and to what level of success, because as the article’s authors state in the 2nd paragraph quoted above, the most successful marketing will attempt to appeal directly to consumers – in essence creating buyer personas and using them to create advertising that is most effective as it is the most targeted.

I do find much of the thought that went into this article to be very spot on, and in most cases the authors did a great job of drilling down to specifics in terms of what was ‘best’ or ‘worst’ about a particular campaign. Keep it up Sam, Ken, David and Katie! BTW, what about the Vikings go Skiing ad from Capital One, I really enjoy this one even now – definitely a solid add to the ‘Best of 2010’ in my book!

Photo Credit: CC2 licensed image by Flickr user Slava

An Appropriate Social Media Post?

I found this video via an ‘industry forum’, but it’s a publicly available clip on YouTube that already has over 10,000 views. My question is, do you think this is a video that an employee (I’m assuming that’s who shot it) should share via a public channel? I’m wondering what thoughts are from those of us in the ski industry as well as those of you that perhaps just love to ski and ride. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

IMPORTANT: There’s some ‘colorful’ language in this clip so it’s  NSFW, mainly if you’re at the office with speakers turned on!

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