Aside from the state’s predominant religion, Utah is likely more known for its skiing industry than anything else. The Beehive State’s reputation is well deserved with most of Utah’s 14 ski resorts receiving more than 500 inches of the best snow on earth every year.
All it takes is a day or two in Utah’s mountains to see why some of these ski resorts play a major role in attracting the nearly 20 million tourists who arrive and spend $6.2 billion annually (Pg. 223). How have these resorts leveraged the burgeoning powers of social media in this industry? The Hungry Hive took a look at each of the 14 resorts’ strategies, ranked their performances, and learned a few things in the process:
- Snowbird (10,816 on Facebook, 3,930 on Twitter) Not only can Snowbird tout some of the largest snow accumulation numbers per season of any Utah resort, it also has the most Facebook followers. However, that’s not solely why we ranked The Bird number one. Snowbird has established a Facebook culture where its followers frequently post questions, comments, and related photos and videos to its wall better than than anyone else we looked at. The ski and summer resort is extremely responsive to its customers’ posts which acts as a positive signal to prompt further questions and discussions. Its wall has become extremely active as a result. We believe this is one reason Snowbird has attracted so many Facebook followers. Snowbird has also established a high-traffic YouTube channel with more than 328,000 total upload video views. Snowbird’s biggest weakness: It has been less active on Twitter and has fewer followers, i.e., a smaller reach than many other ski resorts in the state.
- Park City Mountain Resort (9,179 on Facebook, 7,725 on Twitter) Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) came in a very, very close second. It’s got the most active Twitter account of any resort, racking up almost 4,000 quality tweets since its first tweet was sent out. This activity has likely been one of the causes of its relatively high Twitter follower numbers. On YouTube PCMR’s video production quality is high with each video opening and closing with consistent PCMR logo graphics, and its production team posts videos frequently to boot.
- The Canyons (7,456 on Facebook, 4,629 on Twitter) All other Utah ski resorts need to stop what they’re doing and take note of The Canyon’s YouTube presence. The Canyons YouTube channel has attracted more views than all other 13 ski resorts’ views combined (596,730)! Many of these views are the result of The Ultimate Mountain Gig Competition The Canyons ran last fall. The resort was looking for a blogger, photographer, and writer who would be interested in hanging out on the mountain for four months, get decked out in top-of-the-line gear, and… get paid $40,000 to write a few posts per week. Applicants were asked to produce a two-minute film describing why they would be the best candidate for the job. Needless to say, The Canyons received more than 400 video applications and generated a lot of publicity as a result.
- Brighton (8,256 on Facebook, 1,492 on Twitter) Brighton is a small resort. Even though it has just 1,040 acres, it has somehow demanded a substantial Facebook following relative to larger and busier resorts such as The Canyons (4,000 acres) and Park City (3,300 acres). This may be because Brighton seems to have a knack for randomly offering amazing deals on lift tickets which keeps its followers tunned in for the next opportunity to drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon.
- Sundance Resort (5,673 on Facebook, 1,492 on Twitter) Sundance Resort’s Facebook page has a warm, conversant feel to it (as does the resort). The social media manager is often posting his/her own photos to the page giving it a unique taste.
- Snowbasin (3,225 on Facebook, 904 on Twitter) While there certainly seems to be a lot of videos on YouTube from Snowbasin, we can’t find an official YoutTube channel. All the posted videos we found are produced by customers (which is a terrific thing). But there’s certainly something to be gained by posting your own videos as well.
- Solitude Mountain Resort (2,020 on Facebook, 2,007 on Twitter) In life and in social media, Solitude has a small but solid following. As they say, never crowded means more powder for you.
- Powder Mountain (2,406 on Facebook, 643 on Twitter) Why is Powder Mountain ranked below Solitude? Solitude’s got a solid YouTube channel with 41,000 views whereas Powder Mountain has no YouTube presence.
- Brian Head Resort (1,585 on Facebook, 46 on Twitter) For a small ski resort nowhere near an airport, it’s doing great. Although Brian Head tweets quite often, its Twitter following is anemic. We partially attribute these numbers to the fact that no Twitter link is provided on Brian Head’s Facebook page. (This seemed to be a problem problem with a lot of the ski resorts and in almost every case, the resorts seemed to have fewer followers than one would expect.)
- Beaver Mountain (5,124 on Facebook, 0 on Twitter) Beaver is doing decent on Facebook (although there are rumors that the page manager is unknown to the resort. Runaway Facebook page?). However, the resort is non-existent on twitter. The Beav’ caters mainly to residents of Logan, Utah, a town with approximately 600 Twitter users. Although that doesn’t sound like much, it’s a high proportion of users relative to the 42k population of Logan – even higher than Salt Lake City’s ratio. What’s more, Beaver Mountain hasn’t updated its Facebook page since December 5, 2010.
- Eagle Point (1,263 on Facebook, 73 on Twitter) This resort, located in Beaver, was closed for eight years before reopening this season. After just a few months, Eagle Point is already doing a more impressive job on the scene than some resorts with much more history and money. It is one we’ll keep a close eye on and expect great things to come in the future.
- Deer Valley Resort (1,400 on Facebook, 1,231 on Twitter) We’re at odds as to why Deer Valley is not more established on Facebook and Twitter compared to other Utah resorts. These numbers can’t be linked to its activity; Deer Valley is highly active on both sites. Even though it’s been ranked as the number one resort four years in a row by Ski Magazine, the high-end resort is ranked nearly last in our poll.
- Alta (1,408 on Facebook, 488 on Twitter) Alta has been the biggest surprise for The Hungry Hive. Alta has an old Facebook fan page with 9,121 fans that hasn’t been posted to since March, 2008. For what ever reason, Alta moved to a new page without visibly making any post to the former page informing the mass of followers of the changed address (was this another runaway facebook page?). Within the last six months, the old page has gained more than 2,000 followers, many of whom Alta is not reaching.
- Wolf Creek (342 on Facebook, 0 on Twitter) How many of you have heard of Wolf Creek before?
Which resorts do you follow on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube? What do you like about your favorite resort’s social media presence? And beside all that crap, where do you think is the best place to skip work and go shred some fresh pow’?