G+ers – we just went live with our Great American Thrills™ fan page!
You can also check out our other social media pages here:
Receive updates, invites to events and more on the world of “Great American Thrills™” as well as the “Lost Parks of Northern California” series. So don’t delay – join us on social media and follow us today!
November 1, 2013 | Categories: Lost Parks, Social Media | Tags: amusement park, connect with us, follow us, great american thrills, Huell Howser, kris rowberry, kristopher rowberry, social media, the next huell howser, theme park | Comments Off on On Google+? So are We!
#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
We’re “The Lost Parks of Northern California” – a web video series trying to track down any and all remaining pieces of the 30 amusement parks that have closed here in Northern California over the past 150 years.
And odds are – you saw us at work at California’s Great America today!
#LostParks quite simply, is our hashtag – a way for people to find out what we’re up to in a fun and engaging way across social media platforms. Come for the journey – stay for the history…ride with us!
August 17, 2013 | Categories: Lost Parks, Social Media, Television Production | Tags: #lostparks, acenorcal.org, aceonline.org, american coaster enthusiasts, defunct parks, destination america, discovery channel, great american thrills, greatamericanthrills.net, hashtags, Huell Howser, kris rowberry, kristopher rowberry, lost parks, nicholas laschkewitsch, social media, social media strategy, the next huell howser, travel channel, tv concept | Comments Off on What does #LostParks Mean?
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!
Despite your personal opinion of the site, Yelp.com has become the de facto review source for many users on the internet. The site says that it’s “Real People, Real Reviews,” and with your amusement park being a major business in the area, chances are someone has already reviewed you and / or created a page for your park. So, how do you monitor and work Yelp to your needs? Read on:
1.) Create an officially moderated Yelp business page, then have it verified:
When searching “Six Flags” in the Bay Area, these are the top four results. Note how there’s seemingly multiple accounts for the park, with reviews about the park in each one. This only makes people confused when they’re trying to find you online. True, the more of you out there, the better for SEO – but not in this case.
By creating an official, park moderated page, Yelp will be more inclined to remove errant listings, making it easier for people to find and review you. Plus, it makes it far easier to respond to guests when there’s only one place to go.
2.) Monitor, monitor, MONITOR!
It should go without saying, but Yelp is yet another place that you need to be monitoring your image online. Just like your Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts, Yelp should be monitored closely to make sure that any reviews placed on it are fair, accurate and not derogatory towards your business.
For example, the posting above – is it really an accurate portrayal of the park? Absolutely NOT! So why then would you allow it to stay up, for others to view 24/7? Yelp also gives you the ability to flag reviews for abuse – which is what this one should have done to it.
At the very least – a post like this should be responded to from the park’s official account with accurate information. 95% of angry guests will be quelled once they see the park responding directly to them. Don’t think of it as damage control – think of it more as an opportunity to make a new sale by bringing a guest back. Who knows – they just might upgrade to a season pass…
3.) When you’re wrong – admit it.
Look, we’re all human, so we’re not perfect. Mistakes sometimes happen, so it’s up to you to recognize these and make them right wherever possible. But completely ignoring your internet footprint (especially on Yelp) isn’t going to make bad reviews go away.
If a bad review comes in, try to contact the guest first, off of Yelp. Get more information, and then proceed to see what can be done to correct it in the future. Remember that the sooner you contact an angry guest, the better the park looks in their eyes for wanting to assist.
4.) When all else fails, pay Yelp.
Ever wonder why some companies NEVER have a bad review on Yelp? Is it because of the service or business? Maybe. Mot likely, it’s because they pay for those reviews.
You heard right. What most people don’t know, is that companies can actually PAY to look better on Yelp. Yes, call it a shakedown, call it what you will. But the good news – you don’t have to give money to Yelp.
Just by monitoring and responding to reviews through your own company, much as you would with a customer service agent over the phone, or guest service manager would in the park – you’ll see your numbers trend upwards. At the very least, you’ll start getting a better pulse about what your guests are having issues with, and can adapt your business model around it.
Review my prior posts about “Social Media and the Amusement Park” here.
About the Author:
August 14, 2013 | Categories: Amusement Parks, Social Media, Social Media and your Amusement Park (SERIES), Theme Parks | Tags: amusement park review, amusement parks, busch gardens, cedar fair, disney parks, great american thrills, kris rowberry, kristopher rowberry, six flags, social media, social media ideas, social media ideas for amusement parks, social media strategy, social media topics, theme park review, theme parks | Comments Off on Social Media and the Amusement Park: Don’t Take Yelp Lightly
I hate to be a broken record – but if you’ve been reading my writings on illegal, handheld POV filming on rides – then watching this video should come as no surprise to you.
If you think filming on rides is harmless behavior – how would YOU like to be hit with a GoPro Hero3 at 55mph?
Thankfully, no one was apparently injured in this situation.
Here’s the kicker – while the ride starts well after the train has been dispatched and out of the eyesight of ride employees – the lift has not one, but TWO cameras on it. There’s got to be a better way of preventing this – and there is!
July 1, 2013 | Categories: Amusement Parks, Social Media | Tags: amusement park, amusement park review, amusement parks, california's great america, cell phone, cell phone camera, cell phone cameras, cell phones, CGA, gold striker, gopro, great america, great american thrills, hero3, illegal filming, kris rowberry, kristopher rowberry, loose articles, mobile phone, on-ride filming, POV, pov video, robb alvey, six flags, six flags over texas, six flags st. louis, SM2, SM2 designs, social media, social media strategy, st. louis, theme park, theme park review, theme parks, YouTube | Comments Off on Illegal POV Filming – When Will They Learn?
This large, banner ad is currently up at Six Flags Over Texas, hanging on the outside of the “La Vibora” bobsled coaster station. It’s promoting MetroPCS – but the cute green Android figures aren’t what caught my eye…it’s the fact that the ad is encouraging people to have their phones out on rides:
Don’t believe me? Check out the figure with the “M” on their shirt. Yup. They’re snapping a photo while the ride is going. What’s even more troubling – they’re snapping a photo on what appears to be a swing ride – an attraction that had just debuted when I visited this year (2013); in fact, it’s the tallest in the world at 400 feet.
It also happens to be located next to the main roadway entrance to the park. Boy, that be a heck of a way to start your day when you’re driving into the park and your windshield shatters from a loose cell phone, don’t you think?
If you’ve read my previous post on this topic, this epidemic of cell phone filming is only going to become worse as the Millennial generation becomes of the age to own a cell phone. Showing ads like this, then telling them to not have loose articles aboard the ride? It just wreaks of, “What were they thinking?!?” and it’s just plain DUMB in my opinion.
Seriously – how did this ad proof get by both the corporate offices AND the local marketing officials?!?
“But loose cell phones never hit people or fall out of hands! They’re not as big of a threat as you make them out to be!”
I probably would have confided to you that I’ve never seen an injury as a result of a phone getting loose and hitting someone…though I do have proof that phones are coming loose:
That was before this past weekend, however. That’s when I DID witness several people get injured by a loose cell phone at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The guest whipped out their cell phone after concealing it on the “Double Shot” freefall tower attraction just as it launched – and wouldn’t you know it – the phone got loose, fell 125 feet and promptly smashed into guests waiting in line.
This madness simply has to stop – before someone else is either injured or outright KILLED by a flying, loose article. Ads like this aren’t doing the parks any favors. They’re literally shooting themselves in the proverbial foot.
“I think you’re reading into this ad a little too much – people don’t get encouraged by ads or do what they say…”
You sure about that? Because I’m lovin’ it.
You thought of McDonald’s just now, didn’t you? Feeling a bit hungry all of a sudden? As much as we don’ t like to think it, advertising is a very powerful tool to control behavior – so to encourage the very behavior you’re trying to eliminate in your safety spiels and park map rules is well – not the smartest move in my book.
My point is this – advertise all you want to your guests, but at the very least, practice what you preach!
Review my prior posts about “Social Media and the Amusement Park” here.
About the Author:
June 26, 2013 | Categories: Amusement Parks, Social Media, Social Media and your Amusement Park (SERIES) | Tags: amusement park, amusement park review, amusement parks, android, android users, cell phone, cell phone camera, cell phone cameras, cell phones, great american thrills, illegal filming, kris rowberry, kristopher rowberry, la vibora, loose articles, metroPCS, mobile phone, mr freeze, on-ride filming, PCS, POV, pov video, robb alvey, six flags, six flags over texas, six flags st. louis, SM2, SM2 designs, social media, social media strategy, st. louis, theme park, theme park review, theme parks | Comments Off on Advertising in an Amusement Park – Practice what you Preach!
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.
About the Author:
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
While working on editing photos from my recent marathon trip across the country these past two weeks, I couldn’t help but laugh at what Facebook thought was a face…it’s actually a wheel bogey from the “epic” Iron Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
What’s your best caption for this shot?
June 14, 2013 | Categories: Amusement Parks, Photo of the Day, Theme Parks | Tags: 6 flags, bogey, face recognition, facebook, facial recognition, FAIL, fiesta texas, gerstlauer, gerstlauer train, great american thrills, iron horse track, iron rattler, kris rowberry, kristopher rowberry, RMC, rocky mountain construction, six flags, six flags fiesta texas, social media, the rattler, wheel bogey | Comments Off on Caption Contest: Facebook Face Recognition FAIL
Arguably, the biggest change in terms of marketing in the past decade has to be the meteoric rise of social media.
In the past (referred to as web 1.0), parks and attractions had fan pages or message boards that covered daily events or changes. In some cases, these outlets also promoted the park in a positive light, but that wasn’t always guaranteed.
Today (in web 2.0), parks now have the ability to schedule and control messages to potential and repeat customers on an ongoing, daily basis. Even the best television campaign could not reach such a targeted audience.
But, being relatively new to the game, many parks don’t quite understand how to use social media properly to benefit them. Sadly, in many cases, parks are shooting themselves in the digital foot.
So how then can your park or attraction avoid the most common pitfalls of social media?
1.) Social media means just that – BE SOCIAL!
The point of social media is to start (or maintain) a conversation. Whether it’s between you and your customers, or your customers and potential customers – once a story or idea starts online it can quickly lead to revenue, if it gains enough traction and virality.
However, simply throwing up a daily update on something cool about the park is not going to reach most of your audience. Just because you have 50,000 likes on Facebook, does not mean all 50,000 are seeing your post.
Not everyone enjoys pretty pictures – some are more engaged with a “What’s this Part” or “Flashback Friday” post. Create a weekly checklist of specific post types so that you can reach a greater majority of your online audience.
2.) Always promoting an item or product is social media poison.
Yes, we’re all looking for a quick return on investment, but consider this: If you throw away junk mail whenever it comes in your mailbox at home, why wouldn’t you do the same if presented with the same situation on your social media channels?
While a thinly veiled call to action is okay every now and then, it’s not good to fill your feed up with “BUY THIS!” in each and every post you put out. Simply put, lose the 1960’s “Mad Men” advertising jargon that we all have had been beaten into our heads over our lives, and be more, “real.”
That being said, don’t forget that your social media posts are a major (and instant) public-facing outlet that has the potential to reach millions if something goes awry.
Simply put, social media is not something you assign your seasonal marketing intern as a fun project. It should be a full-time position, as it can actually keep your audience engaged (and spending money) even in the off-seasons.
3.) While your park or attraction may close for the night, your social media feeds don’t.
Remember that the internet is on 24/7/365. While a majority of posts are made between 8:00am and 8:00pm, that can change depending on your audience and operating hours. Responding to posts, both good and bad, in a timely manner can mean the difference between closing a sale and losing a customer for life.
In addition, the larger your social media audience becomes, the more susceptible you become to nefarious postings, such as links to pornography on your public facing wall or feed. The faster you can pull them down, the less people will have seen it.
4.) Negative feedback on your social media feed is an opportunity, not blight.
The absolute, worst behavior a park could do when managing negative feedback on social media is to simply ignore it. There are very limited circumstances where a deleted comment or all-out ban from the page could be necessary, but if managed properly, these situations are rare.
Nothing will make an angry guest feel better than to know that someone is listening or trying to rectify the situation. Even if it’s simply re-iterating a policy that the guest does not agree with, it’s still better to show the effort to others on the feed than to delete it or worse, ignore it altogether.
5.) Stir (and track) conversation with park centric hash tags, but don’t make it too complicated
Remember the old “Kodak Photo Spot” in your park? Hash tags are the new photo spot. Create a simple one to see what people are doing and saying in your park, along with mentions of things that people may talk about, such as new attractions.
Because you’ll be tracking mentions and hash tags, you’ll quickly discover that a good majority of your social media content literally writes or creates itself. You can share guest photos, positive experiences and interact directly with them. I guarantee they’ll want to share with all their friends and family that, “…’So and So Park’ re-tweeted my pic!” That’s social media at work.
6.) Use cell phone photos only when absolutely necessary – have a DSLR with you.
Cell phone cameras are convenient, yes – but they have limitations in terms of quality. While it’s easy to post an update from inside your park via phone, try to resist. A higher quality photo – from a SLR style camera – will allow you to add logo watermarks back in the office. A higher quality photo will also encourage people to save it on their desktop or share it with others – where it will always be in front of them at work, home or their mobile device. And your logo is right there next to it.
Shares and re-tweets, however can be cell phone shots – as these are directly from guests. A higher quality photo automatically sets the parks’ content above the guests, so it becomes more recognizable.
7.) Use the outlets that work the best for your skill and for your park.
While it’s not a bad idea to get your feet in the water on as many of the popular social networks as possible – beware that they all have different audiences and content requirements. Google+ tends to be a more educated, affluent crowd. Instagram requires only photos, while Pinterest is weighted heavily towards women.
Don’t try to overreach when you first start off – go with the outlets that make most sense to you and your audience. Once you’re comfortable, slowly begin to expand. Sometimes too much of a good thing is well, too much!
Review my prior posts about “Social Media and the Amusement Park” here.
About the Author:
May 31, 2013 | Categories: Amusement Parks, Social Media, Social Media and your Amusement Park (SERIES), Theme Parks | Tags: 6 flags, amusement park, amusement park review, amusement parks, best practices, business of fun, cedar fair, Cedar Point, dca today, disneyland today, DLR, gat, great american thrills, kris rowberry, kristopher rowberry, marketing, media strategy, opinion, public relations, six flags, social media, the business of fun, the next huell howser, theme park, theme park review, theme parks | 4 Comments