If there is one thing a resort or snowsports or outdoor manufacturer can do to ensure failure on the social media front, it’s by not doing anything at all. In a rapidly evolving market, where even the so-called “experts” seem to be making it up as they go along, enthusiasm and effort are the best bridges to entry, and trial and error the fastest way to learn new skills.
“You’re only going to speak to as many people as you try to talk to,” said Todd Richards, the former X Games champion who described himself as the oldest professional snowboarder in the world. Speaking on panel at the National Ski Areas Association convention on May 5 called “Smells Like Teen Spirit: Marketing to the Millennial Generation,” Richards said social media has revolutionized the pro rider’s role.
“The truth is that good snowboarders are a dime a dozen. There are third year riders now who are better than the pros of five years ago,” Richards said. And while pro snowboarders used to be judged by how high they jumped and how hard they carved, “does this rider actually move inventory?” is a question more commonly asked now. According to Richards, it’s really a question of “how well they market themselves.”
Other panel members such as Nixon Watches co-founder Chad DiNenna said social media is as much about brand building as it is about creating cross-marketing partnerships, refining focus, and even giving core consumers specific company info. And while the session purported to focus on Millennials, DiNenna said his social media efforts were initially aimed at the youth market, but have grown along with his age. He said, “Every year you have a birthday, you are expanding who your are talking to.”
That sense of constantly learning on the job in the rapidly evolving world of social media reverberated through the panel. Transworld Snowboarding Editor-in-Chief Annie Fast said it has a created constant publishing cycle in traditional media, and that the readers who used to send e-mails now send video. Sue suggested resorts could easily tap into that resource by posting video from the regular riders on their hill. As for real expertise in the market, Fast said, “If anybody walks up to you and says that they are a social media expert, just turn and walk away, because there is no such thing.”
Even those who would claim some expertise in the field, such as panelist Jake Fields, the creative director of Treeline Interactive, said “You do have to experiment. You have to implement a strategy then (be ready) to adjust it as you go.”
Richards said making that adjustment to social media has added years to a professional career in a market “that does have a tendency to chew up and spit out its elders.” His weekly “Todcast” webisodes, sponsored by Quiksilver, have given him a first person take on what a brand can do just by adding a little video. Filming and posting interviews with other pro riders doing “normal things,” has helped keep him in the spotlight as well. “It’s a way to keep my brand--the brand of me--going,” Richards said.
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