Where is our industry going? #SocialMedia

13 07 2010

When Michael Fruchter left for Pierson Grant in mid 09′, I thought “wow…. great opportunity good for him.” When a bit later late 09′, Wayne Sutton joined Twine Interactive (and may have left since), I started to think that things where changing and thought I’d better write a blog about this. I didn’t. Now Valeria Maltoni is moving to Powered and I’m thinking “geez, we’re morphing.” But into what? Remember the golden goose who laid the golden eggs? Are they migrating? Or is our industry slowly dying as companies ‘buy up’ the golden geese for the golden eggs?

In 3 years, our own practice Extanz, has evolved tremendously based on a core principle of the Higher Purpose (Got A Higher Purpose?, Trust 2.0 … Get Used To It, Twitter did it again, it’s about the people). Our industry has come to value ROI way more than it used to. At the heart of it, a culture of control has taken over. Companies had never encountered such a powerful force from such a small part of their customer base. They were used to sending one message, making one thing. Build it and of course, the people will come. But then the people started talking amongst themselves. Started dreaming, writing, building things themselves. They unleashed their own creativity and collectivity. Suddenly, we have a conversation being demanded. The market expect conversational brands. Agencies, once the meaning makers, now seek conversational expertise. They sense the talkative ones and just like the old days, the seek to control them. If you can just get hold of the speaker……then everyone will listen right?

Or will they?

And in the meantime, what of their conversational partners. What of the nature of conversation? What of the higher purpose of social media? Are we just media now?

@YannR @Extanz

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Under the Influence?? The 25 Most Influential Wine Bloggers going to Walla Walla #WBC10

23 06 2010

Around Extanz, we follow the wine blogging community with enthusiasm; both as amateur connoisseurs and with an interest in how wineries themselves are utilizing blogging and social media to build their brands. These blogs are alight with chatter about the upcoming Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla, Washington this weekend and we expect wineries to be paying attention to the blogging advice and social media guidance that comes out of this weekend’s many sessions and panels. Are you going to the Wine Bloggers Conference? Think you know who the most influential bloggers in attendance are? Our results may surprise you.

In Walla Walla, experts will be discussing how to increase the quality, visibility and influence of your wine blog, whether you’re someone with strong opinions on wine quality or you’re a winery looking to increase your brand awareness and customer base. There are a couple of basics for wineries to keep in mind that we imagine (or hope) you’ll hear over and over this weekend that will make your blog worth reading, a blog that people return to week after week, and a blog that other influencers take note of.

  1. Write for your audience. This may seem simple, but have you really looked at who your target audience is and considered what they would find useful, informative & entertaining?
  2. Focus outward. Simply writing about you or your business or your product does not good content make.
  3. Network and link it up. Get your blog out there, in front of the influencers and people to whom it would be interesting. This is where the use of social media can come in very handy.

So how do the conference experts that will be giving you insider knowledge to accomplish the above must-dos rank in the social media sphere? Let’s find out …

At Extanz we study influence, so we studied how the bloggers present in Walla Walla this year rank among each other in terms of influence (measured by in-links). We removed blogs that qualified as online magazines with multiple writers (Palate Press, Wine Business, Washington State Beer and Wine, and Mutineer Magazine) from the list so as to only rank independent bloggers. We also looked at their presence on Facebook and Twitter – not to gauge influence, but to get an idea of what social media tools influencers are finding useful. As we saw in the cycling community, Twitter is the social network of choice for wine bloggers as well.

Are the big names at the conference the top influencers of the wine blog community? Here are the Top 25 bloggers (of the 180 in attendance):

Blog Facebook ‘Likes’ (fans)/Friends Twitter Followers Twitter Following
1 1WineDude 1055 friends 4,139 2,893
2 Good Grape: A Wine Blog Manifesto 521 friends 2,697 2,943
3 Through The Walla Walla Grape Vine 125 members 1,533 1,386
4 Drink Nectar 2450 fans 2,673 2,665
5 Dirty South Wine 344 fans 3,841 3,455
6 Luscious Lushes 248 fans 3,200 3,405
7 Another Wine Blog 441 fans 1,615 1,538
8 Steve Heimoff | Wine Blog 1040 fans 663 160
9 Wine Peeps: A Wine Blog 2129 fans 1,989 1,698
10 Suburban Wino 323 fans 1,387 1,356
11 Cellarmistress’ Cellar Talk ? 1,929 1,598
12 Wine Tonite! 369 fans 2,667 2,298
13 Washington Wine Report 344 fans 1,373 1,219
14 Wine Biz Radio 1203 fans 6,088 2,051
15 BrixChicks ? 968 847
16 Vinotology Wine Blog 334 friends 1,711 1,543
17 PaulG’s Blog – Unfined & Unfiltered ? 468 282
18 RJ’s Wine Blog 351 friends 2,412 1,695
19 The Passionate Foodie 1071 friends 2,108 2,180
20 The Wine Whore 3409 friends 12,051 13,086
21 Notes From The Cellar 250 fans 806 245
22 Beyond the Bottle l Oregon Washington Wine Blog ? 535 376
23 Bricks of Wine 513 friends 1,792 936
24 The Wine Case ? 2,054 1,549
25 Seattle Wine Gal 4966 friends 7,302 6,622

Here are some questions for you:

  • What do you think of the results?
  • Which wine blogger(s) would you like to have been present at Walla Walla?
  • Regardless of ranking, who are you most looking forward to meeting or learning from this weekend?

With thanks to Chris g Collison, yashima, and Rob Winton for the images.

Salud!

SEE the follow up blog: https://extanz.com/2010/07/13/sparkling-feedback-on-wbc10-blog-influence-rank-the-sequel

Katie


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Study: Top 50 of the most influential cycling blogs + Facebook and Twitter friends…

28 04 2010

——> 2011 Updated list –> here ——

—— Contact us for in-depth studies and programs —–

Influence is a complex subject. It may come from many different angles and platforms and changes constantly. As you probably know, one of my big passions is mountain biking (Photos, 4:50 Club). The Frenchness in me has little to do with it since I was only playing golf back when I was living in France… I know, living in Colorado has turned things upside down and probably for the better 🙂

Anyhow, we are always and increasingly measuring influence for our clients and I thought I’d give a run down of what the cycling industry looks like from an influence point of view. I extracted 50 of the most influential sources of information from a larger pool. Ranking method: in-links between each other in the pool only. While they have influence, I removed pro-mags (e.g. VeloNews or CycloCross Mag) and stores like (CompetitiveCyclist or UltraRob). I also looked at Facebook and Twitter for corresponding influence there. To my point earlier, influence is not a one way street but a complex system of resonance which may lead readers and consumers to think and act accordingly. Influencers not only influence the masses but also influence each other throughout the social media sphere. Have I missed any of the top 50 you think should be on this list? Please let me know in the comment section below.

You know, 5 years ago, just looking at a blog list may have been enough. It’s not anymore. I could have spent many more hours on other networks such as YouTube, Flickr…. but looking at Facebook and Twitter gives an additional spin on the original ranking.

Here are a few observations:

  • Obviously some very influential bloggers are still ignoring the 400 million Facebook user pool. Only 20 out of 50 have a Facebook Page. It makes somewhat sense as many for those blogs are run by individuals and it poses some personal vs business brand questions.
  • Twitter is a lot more commonly used (37 out of 50) by bloggers as a method of discussion or republishing of their news rather than Facebook.
  • Clearly most big bloggers don’t follow back much e.g Bike Snob NYC’s ratio of 5k followers for 35 following. I can only assume that they find their news through other methods.
  • As much as there is a vast quantity of cycling blogs, these are clearly of a professional grade (I removed pro mags).
  • ~10% of ladies in the top 50. But that 10 percent clearly have a lot more esthetically pleasing sites 🙂

I also want to thank Andreas from London Cyclist Blog which I discovered through this research. Even though I seem to have come up with different results it was most helpful to learn from him and discover twitter handles.

And now for the drum-roll…the list moving from most influential to least (inlinks only)

Blog(inlinks in the pool) Facebook Fans / “Likes” Twitter Followers & links TwitterFollowing
1 Bike Snob NYC 60 5,819 35
2 Fat Cyclist ? 9,238 33
3 Urban Velo 1991 1,152 75
4 Cyclelicious 207 2,786 1,633
5 BikePortland.org 402 (friends) 4,603 331
6 League of American Bicyclists 1,398 2,872 1,694
7 EcoVelo 709 689 115
8 Copenhagenize.com 84 (mbers) 1,332 22
9 Cycle Chic™ 84 (mbers) 582 399
10 Bike Hugger 1,219 5,041 2,090
11 Up in Alaska ? ? ?
12 Belgium Knee Warmers 347 441 377
13 Bike Commuters 236 (group) ? ?
14 Commute by Bike ? 2,009 2,012
15 Kent’s Bike Blog ? 297 209
16 London Cyclist Blog ? 1,747 250
17 Bike Blog NYC ? 1,276 1,044
18 Bicycle Design 1,215 1,484 523
19 RidingPretty 123 22 7
20 Bikerumor ………………………….2,700 2,670 121
21 Bikes and The City 340 31 1
22 Drunkcyclist.com ? 339 201
23 All Hail the Black Market ? 959 918
24 Chic Cyclists ? ? ?
25 Streetsblog New York City 498 3,820 513
26 Amsterdamize 33 731 347
27 Prolly Is Not Probably ? 2,083 384
28 A view from the cycle path ? ? ?
29 Let’s Go Ride a Bike ? 620 356
30 Cycling Tips 1,074 (FB app, nice!) 2,179 438
31 Epic Riding 2 513 378
32 Vélo Vogue 91 234 151
33 RocBike.com ? ? ?
34 Red Kite Prayer 211 472 189
35 Bike Commute Tips Blog 902 298 140
36 Bad Idea Racing ? ? ?
37 Cozy Beehive 214 426 252
38 Lovely Bicycle! ? ? ?
39 Jeff Kerkove 1251 friends 781 161
40 Gwadzilla 666 ? ?
41 Trackosaurus rex ? ? ?
42 Guitar Ted Productions ? ? ?
43 MnBicycleCommuter ? ? ?
44 VeloDramatic – A Pedal Turner ? 345 28
45 Embrocation Cycling Journal 857 1,234 202
46 Dave Moulton’s Blog ? 2,257 1,548
47 Quickrelease.tv ? 3,133 788
48 Girls and Bicycles ? 278 44
49 Cycling Inquisition ? ? ?
50 Fixed Gear Blog 26 2,790 2,079

Now as we can see, if we look through the Facebook “Like” lenses, Bikerumor would have been ahead of the, Urban Velo, League of American Bicyclist (an org, not a individual) and Bike Hugger when it comes to influence on this network. In a similar fashion, on Twitter, Fat Cyclist would have been ahead of Bike Snob NYC and BikeHugger if we only looked at the number of followers (debatable again).

What doesn’t this study talk about? It’s a ranking and therefore it fails to understand the 3 dimensions of influence: Trust per topic, Real-Time vs Long Tail, Resonance across mediums.
But it’s a start. I’ll certainly study more of this amazing world of influence in cycling over the upcoming season and would love your feedback and thoughts.

Cheers,

READ the follow up blog: Influence & Industry, the many axes about building a community

Follow the cycling list on twitter: http://twitter.com/list/yannr/cycling

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@YannR





How’s that ‘feel-good-ometer’ working for you this morning?

13 04 2010

We’ve built an interesting new paradigm with our practice that has allowed some great customers to trust that we could guide them through this new world of conversation. We help them where they fail to think like media companies when they have all the tools available. I still feel that too many won’t stand up for their customers and constituents in the social media space. They want to do the same old thing using drag and drop features. My top least liked behaviors include:

Monkeys: We sometimes have clients who take over what we’ve implemented and start going after us. It never fails. They start off strong and inevitably their social media activity becomes another thing to do. The tools kill the relationship. If you hire a traditional PR firm, you can be assured to have same results. Social media is (NOT) another line item as part of your marketing plan. You want to try to pick up the phone with fans who interact on Facebook? Do they ask themselves about personally rewarding interactions like a virtual ‘hand shake’? I don’t think so.
The Numbers Game: “When I go see the big boss, I need to have those numbers up…” anonymous. We teach our children ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ but marketers forget their manners. They are sucked into looking good. I even hear that some social media or PR firms get paid by the numbers. Get me a high number of followers on Twitter or Facebook! Like it’s the thing that matters.
Blogging for SEO: This is too common. Demonstrated leadership is hard to do as it takes a community to start blogging ‘curated’ content. ‘Content’ becomes just another keyword packed house with little substance.
Fear mongers: You may turn some company employees in social-ites. Nevertheless, every project will have its fear mongers, from the VP of something who wonders if we should turn off the fan pages to comments or the IT manager who sends a note to all employees saying “By protecting your updates, you remove them from the public timeline and hide them from anyone who you do not approve.” Geez… Twitter is meant to be the opposite. Stick with email man…it works great 🙂
Arrogance has no place in the land of Grace: The Nestle VS Green Peace case exploded a few weeks ago and once more reflects how self destructive brands are. They live in corporate islands and claim their territory. Every bad sentiment should be eradicated (delete). The same people will pay a fortune to get research firms to deliver them market and customer insights for the next market move. But will they engage their critics? NO.

Let’s step away from the BS for a moment…

Human relationships are strong: Never underestimate how much good they can do. Every fan, every follower, matters. Especially those who engage with your brand. If they take the time to say something about you, it’s gold. As Solis puts it, “social graphs are forming dedicated audiences willfully connected through context and interest.” Reward them. Being with them may sometimes suffice. If your brand already has a “cool factor”, you may have the impression that you’re doing a great social media job or you may simply think that it’s easy. You’re probably just ignoring its potential.  If you don’t have that cool factor, it’ll take more than one engagement trick to get people to connect. I always say blogging is the mothership of social media as it creates a back bone for the social media strategy.
Enrich relationships: Getting attention from your community is a rare commodity and wasting their time with discount marketing tricks will keep you at a low perception point. NO ONE in business likes price wars…That’s so last century.  Why manage relationships by its lowest common denominator?
Businesses are Media: Eloquently articulated by Solis “establishing a presence is elementary, captivating audiences is artful” and to also mention “as brands, we become media” – All the tools are available today to let businesses become an early form of publishing specialty house.
The constituent voice (rules): If we (Extanz) could, we would get customers in charge of the facebook fan pages, and we would get customers to have free blogging access to the corporate blog and express their own life-cycle experience. I know it’s like a dream. A brand is the sum of its constituents, without all of them (up and down the value chain), there is no brand. Editorially outsourced infrastructure is what we do as it’s the basis for community and influencer engagement.
A real focus is required: The beauty of social media is that for every person who speaks up, there are 100s who are watching quietly. Call on your own experience. I’m sure you’ve had comments at parties or face to face about a post you made on Facebook. They were quiet on Facebook but face-to-face, they’ll say something. People are watching and keep up with you. The quality of your engagement will keep that lead warm. Once again, in a super-fast information world, attention is a rare commodity.
Relationships have no timeline: The traditional marketing timelines are wrong and most of the time abusive relationally, so don’t even think about it. Yes, we all want ROI, but positive relationships transcend that. One customer friend at a time is the only way to go if you don’t want to turn into a customer-adverse company.

What’s your experience? How do you feel we’ve evolved in the last few years?

@YannR





Ski Reports: I want them now, I want them useful, I want them right

9 04 2010
As the ski season winds down for 2009/2010, I had the chance to talk to two guys who are out there taking their passion for skiing and turning it into a business – all made possible by social media and mobile communication. If you use the SkiReport iPhone app, you have Jon Brelig to thank and you may have heard him on that NPR report I mentioned in my last post. He founded skireport.com in 2003 and released the iPhone app in 2009, quickly beating out REI and North Face to have the #1 ski report app, due to its user-generated reports feature. People loved the first-hand ski reports and real-time updates his app provided. How do you improve live reports from people on the mountain?

Talk to Joel Gratz and he’ll tell you that you need to get localized snowfall predictions and totals to people – a basic concept, but something no one was doing. Joel founded the site and newsletter, Colorado Powder Forecast, for those of us out there who can’t get enough of the deep freshies and don’t get anything from the weather reports on the ten o’clock news.  Joel, a meteorologist with an MBA (obviously), was being hounded by his buddies about where the snow was going to fall each weekend, so he started a sending out an email to his contacts with snowfall predictions based on his own modeling looking at wind patterns. This grew into an e-newsletter with more than 500 subscribers which grew into a website with 65,000 views per month – all with zero marketing. Jon and Joel are at the nexus of the movement to get skiers and riders real-time, accurate information on snow conditions and they don’t work for a weather channel or a ski resort. They work for themselves, and they work for us.

Jon and Joel agree that without the Internet, without mobile technology, and without social media, their ability to disseminate information on snow fall and snow conditions would be limited. Joel points out, “There is absolutely no way I could have gotten any of the visibility I have 3 or 4 years ago without Facebook, Twitter, real-time updates, and email channels. Well, I may have been able to do it a few years ago, but it would have cost a ton.” And clearly, without an iPhone (or any of the other smartphones), real-time user updates from the mountain alerting us to powder stashes or where not to ski would not have been possible.
The key now, is taking these still-in-their-infancy concepts and making them really take our experience on the mountain to a whole new level.  There are a couple basic issues:
  • Real-time data: There is very little up-to-date info on snowfall and snow conditions available. Ski resorts (the main source of all snowfall data) typically report once or twice (three times, if we’re really lucky) a day and rarely after mid-afternoon, which is when we’re planning our mountain assault for the next day. “Do I go to Vail or Breckenridge?” “Do I go backcountry or hit the resort?” The availability of this info can both help you plan your ski trip and improve your experience while on the mountain.
    • Joel points out that ski resorts have the tools to get us this info – employees on the mountain, professional photographers and videographers, webcams, hourly snowfall measurements, social media outlets – they just need a cohesive plan to put consistent updates out there with useful information.
    • We also see a lot of aggregators out there of ski reports, ski resort twitter feeds etc. which are a step in the right direction, but again, we’re limited by the quality of the info – according to Joel, “The direction people are going is good, but it’s not nearly as useful as it has the potential to be.”
  • Noise: The concept of user-generated content on the SkiReport app is what took it to the top and is a great feature, but as with all anonymous user content, it can get noisy and cumbersome. Most user updates on the app are anonymous and Jon admits he spends a lot of time filtering content for useful information, but that they could do even better to make sure the great content is available. He pointed out that in social media and the world of the internet, the minute you make people use their real names, they stop talking smack about skiers vs. snowboards and which resort is better and start posting [somewhat] more useful information. Jon expects to take his app in this direction by linking to people’s Facebook profiles via Facebook Connect. He also plans to rate the quality of users’ reports and give people who are providing high quality information, higher visibility.
  • Trust: This is a two-way street and there are a couple of issues here.
    • The Audience: Ski resorts, like many businesses, are still getting comfortable with the idea of people talking about their brand/service in the public sphere that is social media and with real-time updates that haven’t gone through a PR/marketing department for approval. We see this struggle with many of our clients as we launch their social media programs, but they quickly see open channels of communication and current news is what people want. When Jon first launched http://www.skireport.com, he heard from ski resorts who were not happy about the sometimes negative chatter about their resort on his site – “This is their [skier and snowboarders’] site and this is the Internet,” he told them.
    • The Information: Skiers and riders also doubtful at times of the snow reports coming out of ski areas. This is not because they believe the resorts are willfully trying to mislead them, but because, as Joel points out, they take measurements early in the morning, those powder videos they shoot at that time are likely to be skied out, snowfall can vary hugely at these large resorts, and conditions change. Frequent reporting from multiple points on the mountain would help skiers a lot. Some resorts utilizing twitter are great at this, but report consistency is limited.  Joel’s had multiple resorts tell him that they want to take the doubt out of people’s minds about snow conditions – great! Do it!

So how are ski resorts, SkiReport and Colorado Powder Forecast going to further their use of technology and social media to improve their snow reporting? Here are Jon and Joel’s predictions…

  • Expansion of webcam use – imagine a camera fixed on a ruler streaming 24 hours a day. No more waiting for ski resorts to put out official reports; look for yourself!
  • More Twitter and social media based snow reports – Interestingly, though, when Jon added these ski resort twitter feeds to his iPhone app, there was immediate backlash by users who didn’t want corporate resorts in “their” space. These twitter feeds have been removed from the SkiReport app for now, but Jon continues to work at striking a balance between giving skiers and riders a place for them to report on conditions and provide with qualitative, useful information from resorts on where to find the best snow.  As for Joel, he recently left his job in corporate America to see where CPF can take him. I’d expect big things … an app, a weather channel, a plug-in with ski resorts? We’ll find out next season!
Can’t wait to see the tools we have waiting for us for the 2010/2011 ski season!
Thanks to TheNickster, wfyurasko, and debcha for the photos and thanks to Joel and Jon for taking the time to talk snow!
Katie




Ski Resorts and Snow Reports and Social Media: A match made in heaven?

19 01 2010

Howdy, Katie Van Sant here, of Extanz.com fame.  As those who read this blog know, here at Extanz, we’re always keeping an eye on trends and creative ideas in the social media sphere. My attention, therefore, is always

(and naturally) piqued when the conventional media looks at the use of social media in sectors in which I’m personally active.  Last week for example, NPR ran a story about how ski areas have been inflating snowfall data on weekends to attract skiers. While this news wasn’t much of a shocker, this next part was fascinating: ski areas that were reporting data on the popular iPhone ski report app and that had good iPhone reception (for skiers and riders to send instant condition updates) had reduced their snow report inflation due to the instant backlash by the ski and snowboard community. Yet another example of how social media is democratizing the dissemination of information across industries. These days, I too look to my iPhone for the snow report at Steamboat rather than calling the snow report hotline number I’ve had memorized since I was 6 years old.

This news made me wonder about the rest of the social media platforms – you know, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr etc. – and whether they were now being leveraged by ski areas and their customers to a similar degree. Ski areas are perfectly positioned to leverage social media because they have loyal customers like you and I, who are enthusiastic about sharing their activities on the mountain and staying up-to-date on snow conditions, competitions and events. Little did I know how much the ski areas already knew this…

So, which of the major North American ski areas do you think are taking advantage of social media’s opportunities to best connect with their community? Let’s take a look. I identified the top ski areas, compiling the top 2010 ski areas as identified by the perennial ‘best ski resorts’ reports by Skiing Magazine and Outside Magazine.  Now, I’ll acknowledge this list leaves out some of the best local and regional ski areas – Bridger Bowl, Mt. Hood Meadows, anywhere in Alaska – but we have to start somewhere. Next, representation and community engagement across social media platforms were measured.  During a recent social media presentation, Vail CEO Rob Katz brought up a key point that was taken into consideration when ranking these resorts: videos. As all you skiers and riders out there know, we spend Fall getting amped up for ski season at Warren Miller and Teton Gravity Research ski film showings. A number of other factors were considered as well in order to rank the ski areas (i.e. one resort may have had more Facebook fans, but another’s Twitter and YouTube presence trumped the Facebook fan count):

  • Facebook fans,
  • Facebook fan engagement through ‘liking,’ commenting & posting, posting pictures & videos,
  • Twitter followers & activity,
  • YouTube presence measured by subscribers, views & videos, and
  • Quality of engagement on behalf of the resort (as opposed to super enthusiastic, unprompted fan postings).

And….now for the drumroll…

The Top 10 North American Ski Resorts Utilizing Social Media are:

  1. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia: 26,059 fans, 405 fan photos, 7,856 followers, operating their own video site (rock stars!)
  2. Mammoth Mountain, California: 19,366 fans, 217 fan photos, 3,504 followers, 19,308 YouTube views
  3. Vail, Colorado: 10,049 fans, 12 fan videos, 3420 followers, 297,059 YouTube views
  4. Breckenridge, Colorado: 10,042 fans, 9 fan videos, 3,806 followers, 353,085 YouTube views
  5. Jackson Hole, Wyoming: 10,573 fans, 299 fan photos, 23 fan videos, 2,771 followers, 344,602 YouTube views
  6. Keystone, Colorado: 9,706 fans, 93 fan photos, 4,276 followers, 16,576 YouTube views
  7. Bear Mountain, California: 11,984 fans, 209 fan photos, 1,180 followers, 682 YouTube views
  8. Sugarloaf, Maine: 10,946 fans, 24 fan photos, 1,739 followers, 89,000 YouTube views
  9. Jay Peak, Vermont: 9,706 fans, 237 fan photos, 1460 followers, 44,198 YouTube views
  10. Sunday River, Maine: 7,460 fans, 49 fan photos, 1,706 followers, 319,591 YouTube views

With an honorable mention: Steamboat Springs, CO: Steamboat can’t get it’s social media act together with two competing Facebook and Twitter sites, but between the 2 sites (admittedly, there’s overlap), Steamboat has 11,286 fans, 151 fan photos, and 1,918 followers.

Wow! Clearly, Whistler Blackcomb is blowing everyone else out of the water, even the ski areas run by Vail Resorts (Vail, Keystone, Beaver Creak, Breckenridge, Heavenly). As you may know, Vail Resorts implemented a much covered social media strategy this season, shifting 80% of its print advertising budget to social media and other short-lead mediums. Its resorts are showing strong results in the social media sphere, but the results are often community driven, i.e. these resorts are maintaining their social media sites, but not engaging their communities on the level other Top 10 resorts are. Interestingly, Heavenly, the largest U.S. ski resort, doesn’t even rank in the Top 10. Remember the ski videos? Vail Resorts took this info and ran with it, garnering YouTube views only matched by Jackson Hole, the long-time leader in ski videos.

So, is Whistler’s dominance driven by the looming 2010 Winter Olympics? OR do people just really love Whistler? What do you think?

We’ll ponder the ‘Olympic Effect’ in upcoming posts and see what else is going on at the nexus of social media and the ski industry!

Thanks to tim_in_sydney and toetoe for the great pictures.

Katie





5 Big Fat Social Media Trends

9 11 2009

Social Media is like the new West. 3 or 4 years ago we were barely calling it “new media”. Last year, I couldn’t use the word “social media” or people would look at me like I was talking French. It was a new frontier, but today, everyone has arrived. Now there are way too many people here. We need to aggregate or suffocate. Here are 5 clear trends I see developing in social media:

The Return of the King: ROI
Growth in usage is just not enough to let budgets increase without a return. Every one of our clients asks one single, but not so simple, thing. Track, measure, improve. Buzz is good, traffic is good. Conversion lies in the conversation (with the client). Brands can understand that social media is the rising star of their investment center. A rising star (social media that is) needs to become a cash cow though time or it will be come a dog.

Billboards have new highways:
Recently, Techcrunch blasted the practices of application developers on Facebook and how people are victims of a new form of infomercials, or even starting to use their own influence to advertise. Let’s go back to square one –move some eye balls and convert them into $. If you were not aware, you can advertise on Twitter. There are many services like it and if you sign up for those services, you can get paid. Joel Comm who wrote Twitter Power was just last week making clear that he is okay with it here, here and here.
All in all, billboards have new highways. Get used to it and be(a)ware.

Communities are the new News-Outlets:
Like my physics teacher in high-school said, “nothing is lost, everything transforms”. We’re losing news Twitter-Listsoutlets by the 100s but we’re also creating fan pages, online niche networks and now Twitter lists at a never recorded speed. These are the new influencers; these are the new trusted-agents. Communities, organized or informal, will dictate trends like old media used to. The Fort Hood disaster today is proving that New-Outlets can be recreated instantly. If your company doesn’t have or belong to a community, your influence is vanishing.

Quality and creativity have never been so important:
Forrester / Josh Bernoff have just released their ‘Groundswell Awards‘ – whether it is Nascar, YarnCraft, Norton or the others, I am fascinated by one thing: each of these creative programs is leveraging the power of the Common Unit of Experience (CUE) as I call it, of those ready to activate communities. Quality of intent and creativity of a social media program can only work if the CUE exists.

Personal branding and corporate brands have to work together:
Jeremiah Owyang last week blogged about social media accounts (e.g. Twitter account) and ownership quoting the Cisco CTO twitter account. It is her account, if she leaves, that digital footprint goes with her. This is a magnified case of Jeremiah’s own case when he recently left Forrester for the Altimeter Group with his own digital footprint. When working on social media project, we advocate the brand’s constituency should be a center of the engagement strategy. A brand has to look at its employees and partners as much as it looks at its customers. Grow them and they’ll grow you.

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