Remember when blogging was just a fun hobby? When you could start a website (or visit one) that covered all the cool happenings going on at your favorite theme or amusement park?
Well, those days are numbered – in the name of clicks and likes.
Over the past few years – and especially the past few weeks – amusement park fans online have been bombarded with fake stories, new ride announcements spoiled through “investigations” and general bad behavior.
And it’s ruining our entire community.
Let’s get one thing straight: just because you cover a park, it does not make you a journalist. All true journalists are bound by a code of ethics with the constant threat of losing their jobs if they get something wrong.
Theme park “journalists” have no such code and as such, can (and do) post malicious, false or confidential information, generally with little to no ramifications. Take it from a guy who’s worked both sides of this story: Fan journalism is rapidly running out of style at parks across the country.
Can you blame them? Investigating and “breaking” news like shipping documents or permits showing what new ride is coming next season…what fun is that? It’s akin to searching for (and finding) your Christmas presents hidden in the closet.
Not to mention all the hard work and planning that goes into these announcements from the park side. True, the general public will most likely never visit these sites, but don’t you want to be surprised on announcement day like them?
For all the good bloggers out there, all it takes is one bad apple to spoil the bunch. Some parks have even removed bloggers entirely from the equation, simply because of perceived issues with the greater community.
So what can we – as a community – do to stop it?
In so many cases, we cannot remove these people from our community – but we can take away from them the one thing they want: attention. Flag false stories. Don’t engage on tabloid-style stories. Basically, take back the community we worked so hard to create.
On the park side, actions must have consequences. Share problem bloggers with others in the industry and let them know (in no uncertain terms) why they’re not being invited to events anymore. Give them a road map to success and if they stray – it’s on them, not you.
These bad actors cannot be allowed to represent us as a whole, otherwise our community is doomed to toxicity (and irrelevancy) for eternity.
August 13, 2019 | Categories: Amusement Parks, Social Media, Theme Parks | Tags: amusement park, blog, blogger, cedar fair, dis twitter, distwitter, facebook, fake news, fan journalism, great american thrills, influencers, instagram, journalism, journalists, jump the shark, kris rowberry, kristopher rowberry, new for 2020, new rides, online writing, rumors, Sea World, SeaWorld, six flags, social media, texas thrill seekers, theme park, twitter, YouTube | 1 Comment
Social media use has exploded over the past decade. Its presence is so big, many companies are hiring people solely based on their experience with these new, direct marketing channels.
But while a “like” can be earned quickly, those bonds can also be lost just as fast if the user has a poor experience with it.
So, if you follow these simple tips, you’ll be well on your way to having a superior social media experience for your guests, which will lead to more of those turnstiles rotating:
STEP ONE: KEEP IT UPDATED!
I can’t tell you the number of parks that leave their social media without updated content for weeks, even months on end. Common errors here can include outdated cover photos, profile photos and information. While one of the easiest to fix, this is also one of the most common mistakes many parks and FEC’s make on social media.
STEP TWO: STOP POSTING CRAP UPDATES!
Treating social media like a direct billboard or commercial to the fans of your park is instant poison for your social media. Consider a park with 400,000 fans, yet only receives 100 likes on average on their posts. Something’s wrong there – and it’s the content.
Mask the ad for your park or event in great content – make a cool video or post a beautiful photo that’s sure to be shared. Direct calls to action will turn off park visitors faster than an hour long wait in an un-shaded queue.
And don’t forget about video – it’s the best way to tell a story – and one of the most underutilized mediums on social media.
STEP THREE: INTERACT WITH YOUR FANS!
It should go without saying, but many parks neglect the “social” part of social media – that is, they post something to their account – and simply leave it there. That’s akin in the digital age of throwing crap on a wall and seeing if it sticks.
Social media allows guests to experience things they may have missed on their last trip, post about how much fun they had – or in some cases – complain about a negative experience they had while at your facility.
Not responding or interacting with guests on social media is no longer an acceptable practice. It never was acceptable, period. One can easily gain back a potential repeat customer simply by interacting with them, acknowledging their concerns or eventually resolving them.
Yes, it IS a lot of work and yes, it CAN be frustrating at times with a never-ending deluge of comments – but that’s the world we live in. Consider it “job security.”
Plus, when a park or facility responds to a guest, they guest feels important – because they ARE! Remember who pays for the bills, folks…
By answering questions on social media, you’re also contributing to a higher engagement rating on many of the mathematical algorithms which dictate who sees what. Translation: responding on social media means more people see your post FOR FREE.
So, if you follow these simple steps, your amusement park or family entertainment center should see a nice bump in social media metrics – which should lead to more butts through those gates.
Got any other good suggestions? Leave a comment below or post on our social media channels. Don’t worry, we’ll actually interact with you!
August 4, 2016 | Categories: Amusement Parks | Tags: amusement park, best practices, facebook, family entertainment center, FEC, great american thrills, IAAPA, instagram, kris rowberry, kristopher rowberry, snapchat, social media, social media strategy, theme park, twitter, YouTube | Comments Off on Social Media Strategies and Best Practices for Amusement Parks
I’m going to say something here that’s bound to tick off some of my readers – but it warrants being told:
IF YOU RUN A ROLLER COASTER OR AMUSEMENT PARK INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT…
YOU ARE NOT ACTUAL MEDIA.
There, I said it.
The same goes with just having a social media presence, whether it’s just a Twitter account or Tumblr that’s focused on parks or rides. None of that qualifies you to be invited to nor demand to be invited to a park media event.
Why? Well I’ll tell ya…
Credentialed media (such as myself) are invited to events because we earn it. We write proper news stories, we create content that’s more than just a photo and a caption. We provide insight for people who may be fans of the industry or the general public who might do a Google search.
Demanding that you’re invited to media events based solely on the fact that run an Instagram account dedicated to rides is laughable.
You have to have impact – you have to actually DO something besides snap photos with your phone and upload them.
Media events at parks – by their very nature – are supposed to be fun. But, that does not mean they are there for you and your “hundreds” of followers to HAVE fun.
People like myself are there to work; to cover a story. When you shove your way to the front of the press line, or bolt in front of others to get on the ride – that’s counterproductive to our whole industry of covering parks. And it’s why more and more parks are second-guessing bringing in “online, coaster media” in the first place.
When the enthusiasm over a new ride or attraction blinds you – that’s not good. I’m not saying what you do is dumb or pointless – I just want you to realize there are more steps to be taken to get up the ladder.
This problem is so prevalent, that at one media event I attended this year, a member of the Instagram Mafia DEMANDED that they receive the park provided ride POV first from their PR Manager.
Think about that. It’s not about covering the park anymore, is it? It’s about…YOU…being first. That’s the wrong attitude to have.
Simply put, if you don’t create meaningful content or respect the parks you cover (and the people who cover them) then I hope you enjoy the latest attractions when they open to the general public – because that’s when you should be riding them, first.
Am I way off base? (It’s happened before). Let me know in the comments section below or on my social media links!
July 21, 2016 | Categories: Amusement Parks, Social Media, Social Media and your Amusement Park (SERIES), Theme Parks | Tags: great american thrills, instagram, kris rowberry, kristopher rowberry, media preview, opening day, roller coaster, social media | 6 Comments
Call me “Grandpa” if you must, but there’s a ton of things that just drive me nuts with the whole amusement park and roller coaster “fan” community. So here’s my picks for the the top five things we’ve got to stop doing in 2015:
5.) “Coaster Battles” on Instagram:
I get it, you’re trying to drive engagement to your profile. But damn it’s annoying as all hell to see a “battle” of two or more rides that are usually “apples to oranges” in terms of comparisons-sake taking up my entire screen while I’m just trying to see some beautiful photos. Speaking of photos on social media…
4.) Stealing Each Others’ Photos / Videos:
There’s a reason when you search for photos in Google there’s a small disclaimer at the bottom. It reads: “This image may be subject to copyright.” So what does that mean? In short, it means you need to get permission to use the photo or follow the rules for using it as defined by the author (Creative Commons 3.0 is a good example of this).
So while it’s so easy to right click a cool photo and drop it into your social media feed (Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr) you better do some research to ensure no one owns the rights to it first – or you could be sued, and sued for each time it was reproduced (i.e. “shared”.) You wouldn’t want someone stealing your term paper and calling it their own – so why would you steal someone’s art and not attribute it.*
*Fun fact: While attribution is good, it does not completely absolve you from copyright infringement lawsuits. The easiest solution? Just go out and capture your own photos / videos.
Oh, and if you DO get caught – just fess up to it and fix the situation. No one likes a sore copyright infringer.
3.) Flying Your Drone Over Parks / Construction Areas:
With UAV’s (commonly known as “drones” becoming more and more prevalent (as they become cheaper), the temptation is there to do some really nefarious things with them, such as flying over closed parks without permission to spy on construction progress, or worse, fly over the general public without asking first).
While these amazing devices have given us incredible perspectives on parks and rides recently – the world isn’t quite ready to see them flying overhead while families are trying to enjoy their day. Plus, most pilots are not up to par with the pilots they see on YouTube – at least, not yet.
They’re also a major insurance liability to the park and yourself (seen all those drone FAIL videos? Now imagine them over a crowded midway) not to mention the serious, Federal / FAA violations you could be racking up – so just leave the DJI Phantom II in the hangar for now – okay?
2.) “Selfie Sticks” on Rides:
These things are bad enough off-rides, do we really need to capture every waking moment of our lives on RIDES and then upload them? Plus, once that stick / camera / phone gets knocked loose and whacks some unsuspecting guest below – good luck explaining yourself to the judge & jury in the civil & criminal lawsuits that are sure to follow.
1.) Arrogance in Parks and Online:
Unless you’re the GM or other high-ranking manager of a park, you’re not allowed to walk around your local park or on the internet like you’re a God on the subject (myself included). Begging for perks, exclusive experiences etc., just because you belong to a certain “coaster club” is not only beyond arrogant – it’s counterproductive to the entire community.
All it takes is ONE PERSON to act like an enthusi-ass at a park or TOWARDS a park – and it will ruin the fun for the rest of us. Think of that next time you’re bad mouthing a park via social media or claiming to know everything to the “GP” the next time you’re out on the midway. Remember our passion is all about having fun – not making other people miserable in the process…
What are your thoughts? Got anything to add to this list? Leave me a comment below or on our social media pages:
January 15, 2015 | Categories: Amusement Parks, Social Media, Theme Parks | Tags: aerial photography, amusement park, amusement parks, coaster battle, copyright, copyright infringement, drone, drones, enthusiasts, great american thrills, instagram, kris rowberry, kristopher rowberry, roller coaster, roller coasters, selfie, selfie stick, selfie sticks, selfies, social media, theme park, theme parks, UAV | 1 Comment
#Hashtags – arguably one of the more confusing elements of social media.
For many, they’re seen as useless – for others, they’re invaluable tools for social media. So which one are they for social media and the amusement industry?
They’re actually both.
In laments terms – a hashtag is like a folder on your computer – it’s a depository for anything that uses that phrase of tag. So, if you’ve just opened up a new coaster called, let’s say Iron Rattler for example, the logical hashtag you’d want to promote is: #ironrattler. Got a halloween event coming up? Why not use #HauntCGA (If it’s Great America for instance) or #KnottsHaunt for the Knott’s Berry Farm’s event.
The whole idea behind hashtags is to get people’s attention, quickly – as well as help people discover content they’re interested in. That’s what keeps the user engaged and ultimately through your turnstiles. Because so many social networks are adopting this #hashtag feature, it behooves you to understand what they are and how to use them properly for you amusement park:
1.) Keep it simple!
The longer a hashtag, the more often it will be misspelled. In addition, the harder it will be for people to remember. Say you want to promote a specific ride one day. Your park can post “Have you ridden #theplunge today? One lucky rider will receive a backdoor pass after their ride! #YOURPARKNAMEHERE
Then, you can watch the #theplunge tags, even if you don’t have social media management software (which you SHOULD be using, if you’ve read my previous posts HERE).
2.) Make it unique, but relevant!
Say you’ve just opened up a new coaster called, let’s say Iron Rattler. The logical hashtag you’d want to promote is: #ironrattler. Got a halloween event coming up? Why not use #HauntCGA (If it’s Great America for instance) or #KnottsHaunt for the Knott’s Berry Farm’s event. You wouldn’t want someone else to be getting web traffic because of your event / advertising campaign, would you?
Not to be a shameless plug here, but whenever we shoot our “Lost Parks of Northern California” series – we always send out social media updates using the hashtag: #lostparks. Not only is it easy to remember, but it’s also unique in that it wasn’t being used before – therefore all the content using that hashtag is ours.
3.) Do NOT make it long!
Remember that some social networks, such as Twitter – give the user only 140 characters to get your message out. A hashtag like #welcomebackspaceexplorers probably isn’t the best bet. But, breaking them up into two smaller hashtags is a better alternative, say #spacemountain #disneyland for instance.
Stick to these guidelines, and you’ll find your SEO increase as well as your interaction via your social media pages. Just be prepared to actually interact with your users – it is SOCIAL media, after all!
In my next post, I’ll discuss the top ten post ideas you SHOULD be doing at your amusement park, regardless of size.
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Kris Rowberry has been following the amusement industry for over 15 years. He has curated social media accounts for several companies, totaling over 450,000 followers across multiple social channels. In addition, he is working on his latest video project: “The Lost Parks of Northern California”
Check out my other postings about Social Media and the Amusement Park HERE.
August 19, 2013 | Categories: Amusement Parks, Social Media, Social Media and your Amusement Park (SERIES), Theme Parks | Tags: amusement park, amusement park review, amusement parks, facebook, family entertainment center, family entertainment centers, FEC, funworld, g+, gat, google plus, google+, great american thrills, IAAPA, instagram, kris rowberry, kristopher rowberry, marketing, marketing strategies, marketing strategy, roller coaster, roller ocasters, social accounts, social media, social media ideas, social media ideas for amusement parks, theme park, theme park review, theme parks, thrill rides, twitter | Comments Off on #Hashtag Etiquette – Social Media and Your Amusement Park
Look who decided to give us a “like” on one of our behind the scenes shots from this past weekend:
You can imagine my shock when I checked my Instagram feed this afternoon…
We’ll look forward to sharing more with you, Discovery Channel! But, we’d really like for you to come along for the ride with us! : )
Call us anytime – we’re only shouting distance away from M5i and the Mythbusters!
August 15, 2013 | Categories: Lost Parks, Social Media, Television Production | Tags: amusement park review, Bay Area, behind the scenes, boardwalk, defunct parks, destination america, discovery channel, great american thrills, instagram, kris rowberry, kristopher rowberry, lost parks, m5i, mythbusters, nicholas laschkewitsch, northern california, santa cruz, social media, television production, theme park review, travel channel, tv concept | Comments Off on Lost Parks Makes Major Connections!
Continuing my series on how social media can be used more effectively at amusement parks / FEC’s – just how many times should you be posting to your social media accounts on a daily basis?
Some experts feel that the higher quality the post, the less often you have to post it, while others feel that with all the filtering being done online, the more often you post, the better chances you have of actually being seen and / or heard.
The New York Times – arguably the most respected news source in the country – posts on average, seven to eight times per day. As much as you’d like to think your attraction has that much to tell the world – it simply doesn’t.*
Posting even HALF that often is enough to turn off your potential viewers. Yes, you are being filtered by Facebook and the new algorithm – but it’s not worth over-posting if most of your “likes” are going to mute your posts or worse, mark them all as spam.
If RollerCoasterTycoon had a social media option, I’d be posting a maximum of three times a day while open, once a day when closed.
Post #1: Morning, Before Opening
Post #2: Midday
Post #3: End of Operating Day
Rotate the timing of each of these posts (i.e. Don’t post a funny / cool photo each day at 3:00pm, spice it up a little).
It should go without saying, but you simply MUST be scheduling posts – to try and keep up with each post each day will ultimately drive you nuts. To assist in keeping your sanity, a scheduling software solution, such as TweetDeck or HootSuite is an absolute must! (I’ll be going into more detail on how to use HootSuite with my #Hashtag post soon)
Also to help with keeping up with your quota – consider “banking” photos over your operating season, as well – if you can’t find anything interesting to post about one day, use one of those banked photos.
Remember that while rides are fun, most people visit parks to enjoy the fun WITH OTHERS. Highlighting unique groups in your attraction, big game winners and specific attractions is sure to bring in more views (plus more turnstiles rotating).
Fan submitted photos are also a great (and often overlooked) way to have your social media content create itself. But, as I said in my first posting on this series – never forget that the entire purpose of social media is NOT to sell to your followers directly – it’s to start a conversation and interact with them.
Once you throw up an update, be prepared to interact with people. “Like Bait,” as it’s known, has a place on Facebook, but it will never convert those eyeballs to your turnstiles unless they can feel a connection to your attraction. For instance, posting a cool photo of your roller coaster may get 1,000 likes, but people will also ask questions, too. Each one of those questions is an opportunity to connect (and THEN sell your product to them AND all their friends).
If you’re a seasonal park, take advantage of the off-season to show all the transformative work going on behind-the-scenes. Just be aware that trying to sell a season pass in the middle of the winter with a photo of a dry waterslide probably isn’t going to go very viral. However, a video of employees sliding down said slide in a bathing suit – in the snow, now THAT’S different!)
If you’re shooting your own photos to post on Facebook, Twitter and / or Google+ (and you should be) and you’re using a DSLR (i.e. NOT a cell phone camera) adding a watermark with your website or hashtag is absolutely necessary. People will inevitably share quality or memorable photos – and with watermarked information on them, your logo and website will be sitting right there in front of all those shares for consumption.
Which one of these social media update photos would YOU want to be saved as a follower’s new computer background? (Airship Ventures, 2007 – 2012)
So, don’t fill guests (or potential guests) feeds, walls or updates with tons of info, photos and sales pitches – just nurture them. There’s no reason to go crazy and post 15 Instagram shots of your newest ride. You’ll see your following grow and ultimately see more butts through the turnstiles.
In my next article, I’ll be talking about #hashtags – what are they? How can you use them to promote your attraction / FEC?
*The only exception to this rule is when your attraction is facing a crisis situation or dangerous weather conditions.
Review my prior posts about “Social Media and the Amusement Park” here.
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June 19, 2013 | Categories: Amusement Parks, Social Media, Social Media and your Amusement Park (SERIES), Theme Parks | Tags: amusement park, amusement park review, amusement parks, facebook, family entertainment center, family entertainment centers, FEC, funworld, g+, gat, google plus, google+, great american thrills, IAAPA, instagram, kris rowberry, kristopher rowberry, marketing, marketing strategies, marketing strategy, roller coaster, roller ocasters, social accounts, social media, social media ideas, social media ideas for amusement parks, theme park, theme park review, theme parks, thrill rides, twitter | 1 Comment