Snow It All in The Sydney Morning Herald
Ask someone to 'I'll friend you if you like me then tag, share and tweet' ten years ago and they'd think you were off your snow tree. These days, those without a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Vimeo, YouTube handle are considered the crazy folk.
Skiers and boarders love to boast and the internet has provided them with the ideal platform. Social media has hit the snow world and there are terrabytes (find that in the Oxford dictionary in 1993) of difference between those that use it effectively to communicate and engage with their ‘fans’ and those that don’t.
Snow It All has written about the rise of the 'citizen snowcial reporter' and the consequences for ski resorts. But now we're really excited about how overseas resorts have been using social media in ground breaking ways.
Vail Resorts Epic Mix pass was one of the first. The Epic Mix taps into the boasting gene that most skiers and boarders seem to be born with and allows images, GPS, vertical metres skied and more to be uploaded amongst the Vail Epic Mix community for the seriously competitive.
Whistler took YouTube videos to the next level when they filmed a day in the life of Whistler in tilt shift, called it XXS and made the mammoth resort look like a clay-mation model. Far more exciting than a snow report, the innovative model went viral and was shared across the social media networks with over three hundred thousand YouTube views.
They did it again this year with the Sh—t Skiers Say video with over 1.3 million YouTube views. Why? Because the average skier connected with the video, it made them recognize themselves and others and have a laugh at their own expense.
Another example is a video postcard from a solo skier, again in Whistler, that made us all green with envy and no doubt made his mum cry. Some resorts are lucky, their customers do the social media work for them.
Jackson Hole's Santa Flips Out video had it all, kids dressed as elves and a Christmas narrative that showcased the resort's Burton Stash terrain park, groomed runs and off piste terrain in a magical way. Forty thousand folks 'liked' this one.
Not all videos work in a resort's favour. This video of a swearing ski patroller at Snowbasin caused a social media fraccas. Hopefully Snowbasin, like Aspen, Whistler and Vail had a dedicated social media management team to sort out that little mess.
Mont Sutton in Quebec, Canada ran a 'please like me'-style Facebook campaign for two months earlier this year. For every 'like' they promised to plant a tree. The result? 1576 new trees planted in the Mont Sutton ski area.
In Utah Park City Mountain Resort created a 'snow mamas' web page, blog, Facebook page and Twitter handle to successfully connect with the mummy community and get to the family market. It's working.
North American ski resorts are clearly leading the social media revolution and anyone with a handle, a hashtag or a meme (look it up) in the snow world can be found at 'Tahoe Snowcial' each January. The social media convention for the snow industry has been coined 'the Sundance festival for the Facebook generation ' by Vail Resorts marketing guru, Rob Katz.
A quick survey of our own resorts in Australasia show under-resourced marketing departments trying to juggle social media avenues between an already stretched team. The only exception is NZ Ski who employ two full-time social media co-ordinators in the winter. All ski fields tend to focus on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels to push their own messages, snow reports and competitions.
Perisher's marketing team used Facebook to push their Perisher Ski Bum competition to the masses before the season started and Thredbo used a countdown with a different Facebook cover image each day prior to opening day to fuel anticipation. Across the ditch Cardrona used this video of international freeskier, Byron Wells, to spread their word while Craigieburn's picture of 125 cm from one storm was shared on Facebook over 1200 times.
Meanwhile Air New Zealand, who do have a full-time social media team, have taken Lara Bingle to the snow in Queenstown this week to film another 'Kiwi Sceptics' video that they hope will go as viral as their last four which have been viewed 575,000 times. The campaign has already won a Bronze Lion at the Cannes advertising awards and the expectation is that Australia's relationship with Bingle will ensure Aussies click and share.
One of the most successful viral video for Australian resorts was back in 2007 when snowboarders hit the biggest jump ever built in competition in the world at the time during the Stylewars snowboard competition at Falls Creek. It has since been viewed over a million times in five years.
In more recent times the combination of international athletes and one of the world's biggest ski terrain park jumps at the Toyota One Hit Wonder at Thredbo made for a Facebook frenzy as competitors encouraged their networks to vote for them to win. The event's wrap up video for 2011 has been viewed over forty four thousand times alone.
So this year we're waiting for the curve ball social media moment that has skiers and snowboarders begging to share. We know that wit and humour works, we know that human connection works and we know world firsts and biggest anything works.
The first to combine all of these down under will surely be liked the most this season and the rest will follow (pun intended).