Top French ski resorts on Facebook this season

Tignes, Val Thorens and Orelle are soldiering for another week and the Pic du Midi is still open too, but it’s raining at over 2,000m as I write this and most resorts are gearing up for summer already. Time to round up how the winter season went on social media for the top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook.

Winners and losers

So who posted the biggest gains in terms of fan growth this season among the top 50?

Saint Gervais (+156%) after it cleaned up its social media presence and merged the tourist office and lift company pages. Second was Valloire (+69%) which benefited from the JB effect after local hero Jean-Baptiste Grange was crowned slalom World Champion for the second time in a row. And third: Ax 3 Domaines, which hit the 30,000 fans milestone in March. Among the domains, the Grand Massif made good progress (+46%).

At the other end of the scale, Megève lost just under 7% of fans over the season, mostly after Facebook initiated a clean-up of inactive accounts in March.

A season of milestones

This was the season that the first European ski resort hit 200,000 Facebook fans and it was a French one: Val Thorens. Fresh from its success in being voted World’s Best Ski Resort for the second year in a row, Val Tho joins an elite band of North American resorts: Jackson HoleMammoth and Whistler / Blackcomb.

Other resorts hitting milestones this season included La Plagne (50k), Ax 3 Domaines and Saint Lary in the Pyrenees (30k), La Norma (20k), and several at 10k+ : Saint Gervais, Les Saisies, Piau-Engaly and Sainte Foy.

A successful printemps du ski?

This spring’s France Montagnes’ campaign, Le Printemps du Ski, or Skiing into Spring in English, was an attempt to fight back against the erosion of late season business in recent years, not helped by the Easter calendar and late French school holidays. How well did it go?

Well, one particularly active participant in the campaign, Saint François Longchamp, certainly seems to have benefited, at least on Facebook. It finished the season strongly, gaining 10% in March, 24% in April, and scoring nearly 58k views for this video:

Overall, though, the top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook grew their fans just 0.9% in April on average, down from 2.6% in April 2014.

A time to thank the fans

Finally, this is a good time for resorts to show their appreciation and thank their fans for their support over the season. Show them some love. Here’s what happens when you do (they appreciate it):

Ax 3 Domaines FB screenshot

Have a good relaxing inter-season everyone and here is the ranking in full, as recorded on 1 May 2015:

Top 5 French ski domains on Facebook

  1. Portes du Soleil – 111,417 fans
  2. Nouvelles Pyrénées – 60,016
  3. Haute Maurienne Vanoise – 48,309
  4. Les 3 Vallées – 29,475
  5. Grand Massif – 19,181

Top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook

  1. Val Thorens – 202,553 fans
  2. Megève – 107,579
  3. Val d’Isère – 96,370
  4. Chamonix – 79,225
  5. Les Menuires – 73,393
  6. Tignes – 64,900
  7. La Clusaz – 62,851
  8. Les Arcs – 61,493
  9. Courchevel – 55,122
  10. La Plagne – 50,580
  11. Alpe d’Huez – 46,036
  12. Les 2 Alpes – 44,847
  13. Cauterets – 41,403
  14. Serre Chevalier – 39,977
  15. Le Grand Bornand – 37,708
  16. Avoriaz – 36,572
  17. Vars – 31,551
  18. Saint Lary – 30,797
  19. Ax 3 Domaines – 30,004
  20. Méribel – 29,134
  21. Les Gets – 24,775
  22. La Norma – 20,793
  23. Orcières – 19,267
  24. Saint François Longchamp – 18,235
  25. Valloire – 17,684
  26. Les Sept Laux – 15,366
  27. Le Dévoluy – 15,214
  28. Peyragudes – 15,179
  29. Lac Blanc – 14,207
  30. Les Orres – 13,911
  31. Châtel – 13,876
  32. Morzine – 13,587
  33. Les Contamines – 13,347
  34. Le Lioran – 12,117
  35. Montgenèvre – 12,010
  36. Grand Tourmalet – 11,960
  37. Saint Gervais – 11,598
  38. Les Saisies – 11,379
  39. Piau-Engaly – 11,379
  40. Sainte Foy – 10,741
  41. Aussois – 10,202
  42. Les Angles – 9,506
  43. La Pierre St Martin – 9,275
  44. Chamrousse – 9,059
  45. Isola 2000 – 8,594
  46. Val Cenis Vanoise – 8,251
  47. Gourette – 8,198
  48. Risoul – 7,996
  49. Praloup – 7,855
  50. Arêches-Beaufort – 7,612

Please note: these are official pages only and only those resorts are included that have at least some alpine ski uplift capacity, ie a ski lift. Sorry if I’ve missed anyone and please let me know so this list can be improved for next month. Linked resorts/domains like the 3 Valleys are ranked separately and the count was done on 1 May 2015.

Which ski resort just quadrupled its Twitter followers?

While Facebook is starting to look fairly mature and steady as a platform for French ski resorts, over on Twitter it is all still happening. Just take a look at who (out of the top 30) grew the fastest in February and by how much:

  1. Megève (+426%)
  2. Avoriaz (+36%)
  3. Les Contamines (+29%)
  4. Alpe d’Huez (+22%)
  5. Méribel (+15%)

Yes, that’s right: Megève more than quadrupled its followers in February! The resort, whose VP Tourism is e-reputation expert Jean-Marc Seigneur, has been quick to take advantage of Twitter’s newly launched ‘tailored audiences’ retargeting capability, issuing a (promoted) Twitter card:

The promotion targets audiences that are likely to be interested in mountain tourism and the Megève brand, explains newly appointed community manager Etienne Marin, and is part of Megève’s overall e-reputation and ‘smart ski resort’ strategy, which includes the We Are Megeve platform

The resort has also launched a new English-language twitter account:

…although not one yet in Russian. Playing around with analytics on Followerwonk shows that the resort has almost as many Twitter followers tweeting in Russian as in English:

megeve twitter graph

Elsewhere, Alpe d’Huez continues to reap the benefits of its new community manager set-up and Les Contamines also looks dynamic, with its web ambassador programme well into its second year.

Serre Chevalier, which is one of only two resorts with two Twitter accounts in the top 20 (the other being Morzine) is currently recruiting web ambassadors, or social reps as it calls them and has swapped around its twitter names so that @serrechevalier is now the French language account, while the English language one has become @serreche_uk.

Overall, average follower growth for all the top 30 French ski resorts on Twitter soared to 23.4% including Megève, and held roughly steady at 9.5% excluding them (compared to 9.8% in January).

Here is the ranking in full, as compiled on the 1st of March:

Top 3 French ski domains on Twitter:

  1. Les 3 Vallées – 2,320 followers
  2. Portes du Soleil – 2,207
  3. Nouvelles Pyrénées – 2,052

Top 30 French ski resorts on Twitter:

  1. Megève – 7,646 followers
  2. Val Thorens – 4,278
  3. Chamonix – 4,083
  4. Val d’Isère – 2,839
  5. Les Arcs (fr) – 2,487
  6. Morzine (en) – 2,481
  7. La Plagne – 2,109
  8. Serre Chevalier (en) – 2,028
  9. Les Menuires – 1,962
  10. Alpe d’Huez – 1,818
  11. Le Grand Bornand – 1,772
  12. Morzine (fr) – 1,768
  13. Les Gets – 1,761
  14. La Clusaz  – 1,757
  15. Avoriaz – 1,658
  16. Ax3Domaines – 1,601
  17. Serre Chevalier (fr) – 1,460
  18. Les Contamines – 1,320
  19. La Tania – 1,275
  20. Aussois – 1,193
  21. Vars – 1,075
  22. Orcières 1850 – 1,026
  23. Tignes – 1,023
  24. Méribel – 998
  25. Peyragudes – 925
  26. Montgenèvre – 877
  27. Piau – 862
  28. Pic du Midi – 835
  29. Gourette – 770
  30. Les Angles – 688

Please note: these numbers were polled on the 1st of March 2014. Sorry if I’ve missed anyone and please do let me know so this list can be improved for next month… Official resort accounts only and linked resorts/domains are ranked separately.

Candid camera – tapping into Instagram for a fresh look

So Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform by far at the moment among North American ski resorts, up 84% in followers industry-wide over the past month, according to the most excellent slopefillers. That’s compared to 24% for pinterest, the next hottest platform, and under 6% for the more mature facebook.

What’s going on? A couple of things stand out.

One, Aspen’s followers have soared just in a last few weeks, reportedly, and its recently relaunched profile page is absolutely gorgeous, with over 400 pics last I checked.

The other is Whistler’s WhistlerUnfiltered site which displays uncensored visitor-generated images collected from Instagram of winter in Whistler “Through the People’s Lens“. It’s fresh and authentic, and people certainly seem to be responding, as there are over 1,900 images out there already with the #whistlerunfiltered hashtag… and counting. The site itself is fab too, with an overall view and tantalising categories called Anticipation, Rooftop of the World, Dropping In, Snow Play and Boots Off. Clever, because though the images are candid and spontaneous, those headings prompt you to think along those lines.

French ski resorts are not quite so into Instagram yet for the most part. But I reckon there’s already loads of potential out there. Even if a resort doesn’t have a big – or even any – presence as a user, the candid images that come up if you search by hashtag are wonderful.  I tried a few randomly and saved screenshots of the results, pictured in the slideshow below… Not only do they look great, it’s interesting that you can see differences, even just from the first page of images. Do you think that nuances in character of the different resorts come through?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What’s created the biggest pre-season buzz out there so far?

Not some highly original and engaging new social media campaign, though there are some interesting things going on out there. No, quite simply, the white stuff: snow.

It seems we are all dreaming of a white… ski slope, and so the first serious dusting of it in the Alps – and Pyrenees – on October 15-16 set the social media airwaves buzzing like nothing else has so far this pre-season.

Taking a look around the Facebook pages a week after the snowfall, everywhere I landed, pictures of the snow were the top post – by far.

The biggest one I could find was a picture of a thickly blanketed Avoriaz, with snow still falling: 2,225 likes and 665 shares when I checked just now.

Val Thorens’ picture of SNOW! written in the… snow has scored 1,916 likes and 364 shares. Les Arcs’ view of pristine white slope the next morning under a blue sky has 1,187 likes and 225 shares. And snow pics were also the top posts to date this autumn most everywhere I stopped by to check: Serre Chevalier, Portes du Soleil, Tignes, Les Contamines…

So have these snow snaps increased the fan base or are they just reaching us diehard snow heads? Tougher one.

Some of those that posted are showing a healthy increase in fans (Portes du Soleil is up more than 6,000 fans since the start of October), some relatively little.

In any case, surely that kind of engagement can’t be bad – at least it’s go us all daydreaming at our desks. And just as the earlybird season pass purchase deadlines are coming up, too.

Mmm, just took a look at snowforecast and it’s showing more snow over the Alps in the next 3-6 days…