Social media is no longer a new thing. Facebook celebrates its eleventh birthday this month, and Twitter turns nine in March. Yet despite their years, marketers are still trying to pinpoint how to best use social media to communicate with and sell to guests.
The audience is vast. Facebook averages more than 800 million active daily users. Twitter’s 280 million-plus monthly users send 500 million Tweets a day. Relative newcomer Instagram is home to 300 million monthly active users who each day post 70 million photos. There’s also YouTube, Pinterest, Foursquare, and Tumblr, not to mention a variety of crowd-sourced channels such as TripAdvisor and Yelp that have significant reach. Put it all together, and the social media space is ripe for adventure parks to create, build, and maintain a relationship with their guests and potential guests.
Have a Plan
Most marketers today see the potential for a return on their investment in social media, but all would agree it is just one segment of a broader plan.
“Social media is a great tool, but you need to have a plan for what you are going to do with it and how it ties into the bigger picture,” says Ed Caplan, a trainer and social media marketer for Experiential Systems, based in Illinois. Caplan can identify more than a few companies that haven’t gained traction on their Facebook or Twitter channels because they didn’t identify a strategy before launching them.
“When I work with companies, and they say they’ve set up a Facebook page, it always scares me a bit. My follow-up question is, ‘How often are you posting?’” Caplan says. “If you haven’t posted in a year, you’ve been communicating to Facebook that you don’t have anything interesting to share, so now it’s more of an uphill battle to gain a following.”
Milena Regos, founder and CEO of Out & About Marketing in Incline Village, Nev., underscores the importance of building a cohesive plan. “Make sure you’re providing valuable information to your social media fans and followers,” advises Regos. “Too many brands still have not figured out that social is a two-way street, from blogging to visual content. A solid content strategy is a key foundation for social media success.”
Bill Quigley, marketing and sales manager at New Hampshire’s Gunstock Mountain Resort, home to New England’s largest aerial treetop adventure course, takes a similar big-picture view. “I look at marketing as a big wheel, and if all of the spokes are not tuned correctly, the wheel becomes out of true,” says Quigley. “So for us, it’s sharing experiences from our level, connecting with our guests across all of our platforms.”
Quigley adds that social and online platforms tend to be a personal choice, where some age groups prefer Instagram and Snapchat, while others are predominantly on Facebook. Therefore, he says, it’s important to know your audience.
“A lot of people want to know what social media channels they should be on, but that goes back to knowing where your clientele is,” adds Caplan.
One key to identifying the channels your current and potential guests are on is to stay current on the demographic statistics released. Quigley says his operation occasionally offers $2 to $5 coupons through a specific channel in order to better gauge the depth of engagement.