Time for a change

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” Lao Tzu

For nearly three years, this blog has published the top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook and the top 30 on Twitter, every month, together with insights into who’s doing what on social media and why it’s working. This month, for the first time, I didn’t. Not because I was on the beach, but because it’s time for a change.

I started this blog because I moved to a small(ish) French ski resort and mountain village – Les Contamines-Montjoie – and I was curious about what makes smaller resorts like this tick… I wanted to see if I could contribute some of my experience in journalism and communications gained in the big city and corporate world to my first love, skiing, and the mountain environment I was now living in.

It’s been great fun, I’ve learnt a lot, met and have spoken to lots of people and hopefully been useful to some of you. The page views keep growing and while I’m appreciative, we all know it’s not just about the numbers.

So, starting this autumn, I’ll be refocusing more closely on what, for me, has grown from curiosity to a passion – exploring how mountain villages and resorts like the one I live in can survive and thrive – sustainably. After the last few weeks of heatwave here in the Alps, crumbling glaciers and melting permafrost, it seems timely.

There’ll be a new and different blog and news of an exciting project I hope to be able to talk more about soon. I will keep you posted.

Thanks very much for following all this time, have a great (but not too hot) summer and à très bientôt.

 

 

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.

French ski resorts lose likes after Facebook clean-up

Many French ski resorts saw their Facebook pages lose likes in March, after Facebook started a clean-up to remove likes from inactive and in memoriam accounts. As one tech site explained, “the new changes in their likes policy should mean that those buying likes… would also see their page likes decrease by the thousands…”

So which French resorts have been most affected so far? These resorts lost the most likes in March:

  1. Megève (-8,824)
  2. Val Thorens (-4,179)
  3. Courchevel  (-1,100)
  4. Saint Lary (-1,008)
  5. Alpe d’Huez (-997)

Despite the purge, 20 of the top 50 still managed to gain fans in March, led by Saint Gervais, which jumped to no. 37 (+59%) after merging the lift company’s page with that of the Tourist Office.

Valloire grew its fans 20%, still riding the wave of Jean-Baptiste Grange’s World Championship success, running a photo contest and promoting cross-linkage with its instagram account:

Saint François Longchamp (+10%) has been actively pushing the Printemps du Ski campaign of France Montagnes and the hashtag #mySFL:

Overall, taking into account the purge, the top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook in February grew their likes by just 1.5% on average, compared to 12% in February.

Here is the ranking in full, as recorded on 2 April 2015:

Top 5 French ski domains on Facebook

  1. Portes du Soleil – 111,574 fans
  2. Nouvelles Pyrénées – 59,471
  3. Haute Maurienne Vanoise – 48,393
  4. Les 3 Vallées – 29,283
  5. Grand Massif – 18,930

Top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook

  1. Val Thorens – 202,499 fans
  2. Megève – 107,687
  3. Val d’Isère – 94,867
  4. Chamonix – 79,080
  5. Les Menuires – 73,443
  6. La Clusaz – 63,020
  7. Tignes – 62,161
  8. Les Arcs – 61,449
  9. Courchevel – 54,964
  10. La Plagne – 50,452
  11. Alpe d’Huez – 45,945
  12. Les 2 Alpes – 44,635
  13. Cauterets – 41,421
  14. Serre Chevalier – 39,917
  15. Le Grand Bornand – 37,259
  16. Avoriaz – 36,400
  17. Vars – 31,198
  18. Saint Lary – 30,821
  19. Ax 3 Domaines – 30,020
  20. Méribel – 29,035
  21. Les Gets – 24,702
  22. La Norma – 20,820
  23. Orcières – 19,236
  24. Valloire – 17,663
  25. Les Sept Laux – 15,303
  26. Le Dévoluy – 15,219
  27. Peyragudes – 15,170
  28. Saint François Longchamp – 14,678
  29. Lac Blanc – 14,146
  30. Les Orres – 13,891
  31. Châtel – 13,851
  32. Morzine – 13,568
  33. Les Contamines – 13,353
  34. Le Lioran – 12,092
  35. Grand Tourmalet – 11,930
  36. Montgenèvre – 11,854
  37. Saint Gervais – 11,495
  38. Les Saisies – 11,316
  39. Piau-Engaly – 11,302
  40. Sainte Foy – 10,439
  41. Aussois – 10,194
  42. Les Angles – 9,482
  43. La Pierre St Martin – 9,218
  44. Chamrousse – 9,026
  45. Isola 2000 – 8,538
  46. Val Cenis Vanoise – 8,204
  47. Gourette – 8,199
  48. Risoul – 8,012
  49. Praloup – 7,835
  50. Arêches-Beaufort – 7,603

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 2 April.

First European ski resort reaches 200,000 fans on Facebook

As predicted, Val Thorens has become the first European ski resort to reach 200,000 fans on Facebook. It hit the milestone in February and changed its cover shot to this:

Of course size isn’t everything and the number of fans is just one possible social media measure but, still, ValTho is now at almost twice the number of fans of its nearest French rivals, Megève and the Portes du Soleil, and well ahead of other European resorts like Saalbach Hinterglemm in Austria (140,315 fans) and Grand Valira in Andorra (137,977 fans).

It joins an elite band of just three other resorts to boast 200,000-plus fans, all North American: Jackson Hole, Mammoth and Whistler / Blackcomb.

Guess who else had a good month? Valloire, after its local hero, Jean-Baptiste Grange, was crowned World Champion in slalom for the second time in a row at the World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail / Beaver Creek.

Fans of its Facebook page surged 26%, however we can’t put it all down to the JB effect because the resort was also running a competition in February.

Other risers were La Plagne, which climbed into the top 10 in February (+11%) and  Saint Gervais (+42%) in at number 50, helped by a bit of highlighting:

Overall, fan growth for the top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook in February averaged 12% in this peak season month, up from 5% in January.

Here are all the scores, as recorded on 1 March 2015:

Top 5 French ski domains on Facebook

  1. Portes du Soleil – 119,737 fans
  2. Nouvelles Pyrénées – 58,998
  3. Haute Maurienne Vanoise – 49,069
  4. Les 3 Vallées – 29,443
  5. Grand Massif – 16,494

Top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook

  1. Val Thorens – 206,678 fans
  2. Megève – 116,511
  3. Val d’Isère – 90,447
  4. Chamonix – 79,806
  5. Les Menuires – 70,593
  6. La Clusaz – 62,940
  7. Tignes – 62,524
  8. Les Arcs – 61,486
  9. Courchevel – 56,064
  10. La Plagne – 49,033
  11. Alpe d’Huez – 46,942
  12. Les 2 Alpes – 44,682
  13. Cauterets – 41,573
  14. Serre Chevalier – 39,107
  15. Le Grand Bornand – 37,058
  16. Avoriaz – 36,603
  17. Saint Lary – 31,829
  18. Vars – 31,037
  19. Ax 3 Domaines – 28,879
  20. Méribel – 26,801
  21. Les Gets – 24,133
  22. La Norma – 20,449
  23. Orcières – 19,535
  24. Le Dévoluy – 15,435
  25. Peyragudes – 15,257
  26. Les Sept Laux – 15,173
  27. Valloire – 14,691
  28. Lac Blanc – 14,566
  29. Les Orres – 14,211
  30. Châtel – 14,045
  31. Les Contamines – 13,746
  32. Morzine – 13,655
  33. Saint François Longchamp – 13,323
  34. Le Lioran – 12,181
  35. Montgenèvre – 12,120
  36. Grand Tourmalet – 11,976
  37. Les Saisies – 11,404
  38. Piau-Engaly – 11,287
  39. Sainte Foy – 10,603
  40. Aussois – 10,340
  41. Les Angles – 9,650
  42. La Pierre St Martin – 9,162
  43. Chamrousse – 9,066
  44. Isola 2000 – 8,497
  45. Risoul – 8,350
  46. Gourette – 8,298
  47. Val Cenis Vanoise – 8,103
  48. Praloup – 7,932
  49. Arêches-Beaufort – 7,575
  50. Saint Gervais – 7221

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 March.

Top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook (on 1 Feb ’15)

It’s day 5 of the big snowstorm and it’s still snowing! Social media is deluged with pictures of peuf and smiling faces… as well as avalanche warnings.

The biggest mover in the Facebook rankings this past month was Val d’Isère, which has quietly climbed into third spot, from 9th before the winter began. It grew its fans 26% in January, hosting the Coupe d’Europe and also a classical music festival, though, as usual, the most engaging posts included photos of snow:

Les Menuires (+21%) was the second fastest growing, as it celebrates its 50th anniversary all this season (with a competition):

Les Gets (+20%) also grew strongly with posts like this:

The moral of that post is don’t forget to post video now and then.

Meantime, Whistler Blackcomb reached 200,000 Facebook fans in January while Val Thorens is still on track to get there sometime in February but just under 3,000 likes shy as I write this.

Now for the stats. Fan growth of the top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook in January averaged 5% (down from 6% in December and 8% in November). Just 14 resorts showed above average growth, while eight in the top 50 grew their fans by less 2% this past month.

Here is the ranking in full, as recorded on 1 February 2015:

Top 5 French ski domains on Facebook

  1. Portes du Soleil – 119,204 fans
  2. Nouvelles Pyrénées – 55,495
  3. Haute Maurienne Vanoise – 49,130
  4. Les 3 Vallées – 28,638
  5. Grand Massif – 14,860

Top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook

  1. Val Thorens – 197,112 fans
  2. Megève – 116,240
  3. Val d’Isère – 82,223
  4. Chamonix – 79,089
  5. Les Menuires – 66,312
  6. Tignes – 61,564
  7. La Clusaz – 61,474
  8. Les Arcs – 58,685
  9. Courchevel – 54,704
  10. Alpe d’Huez – 46,285
  11. La Plagne – 44,050
  12. Les 2 Alpes – 43,891
  13. Cauterets – 40,954
  14. Serre Chevalier – 38,182
  15. Avoriaz – 35,314
  16. Le Grand Bornand – 34,695
  17. Saint Lary – 30,868
  18. Vars – 30,069
  19. Méribel – 26,027
  20. Ax 3 Domaines – 25,146
  21. Les Gets – 22,968
  22. Orcières – 19,195
  23. La Norma – 18,153
  24. Le Dévoluy – 15,303
  25. Les Sept Laux – 14,788
  26. Peyragudes – 14,606
  27. Lac Blanc – 14,238
  28. Les Orres – 13,924
  29. Châtel – 13,808
  30. Les Contamines – 13,631
  31. Morzine – 13,408
  32. Saint François Longchamp – 12,387
  33. Montgenèvre – 12,005
  34. Valloire – 11,621
  35. Le Lioran – 11,454
  36. Grand Tourmalet – 11,105
  37. Les Saisies – 11,037
  38. Sainte Foy – 10,557
  39. Piau-Engaly – 10,472
  40. Aussois – 10,270
  41. Les Angles – 9,379
  42. Chamrousse – 8,724
  43. Risoul – 8,326
  44. La Pierre St Martin – 8,257
  45. Isola 2000 – 8,239
  46. Val Cenis Vanoise – 7,882
  47. Gourette – 7,830
  48. Praloup – 7,677
  49. Arêches-Beaufort – 7,431
  50. Oz-en-Oisans – 6,623

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 February.

Top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook at the start of 2015

Prediction: a European ski resort will hit 200,000 fans on Facebook for the first time before the end of this winter season, and it will be a French one.

Guess who? Val Thorens.

Flush from its success in getting voted World’s Best Ski Resort for the second year in a row, it added 8% more fans in December and now stands at 185,000 and counting. Based on that kind of growth, it could hit 200k fans as early as February.

If and when it does, it will be the first European ski resort to reach that milestone, and will join a very few North American resorts already there: Mammoth and Jackson Hole resorts and perhaps soon also Whistler Blackcomb.

Overall, it’s been a tough start to the winter in the Alps, and the fan growth of the top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook in December reflects that: it averaged just a little over 6% only, down from 8% in November and nearly 9% in December 2013.

The three resorts in the top 50 growing their fans the most in December were:

1. Arêches-Beaufort (+46%), following the fusion of two pages and the relaunch of its website in the past year.

2. Ax 3 Domaines (+26%), which once again showed what an enthusiastic following many Pyrenees resorts have:

3. Le Lioran (+14%) in the Auvergne, which looked like this on 6 December:

Thanks for following this blog over the past year and happy new year to you all! Here is the ranking in full, as recorded on 1 January 2015:

Top 5 French ski domains on Facebook

  1. Portes du Soleil – 117,442 fans
  2. Nouvelles Pyrénées – 50,481
  3. Haute Maurienne Vanoise – 45,974
  4. Les 3 Vallées – 27,678
  5. Grand Massif – 14,314

Top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook

  1. Val Thorens – 183,721 fans
  2. Megève – 115,818
  3. Chamonix – 77,682
  4. Val d’Isère – 65,365
  5. Tignes – 60,114
  6. La Clusaz – 58,061
  7. Les Menuires – 54,957
  8. Les Arcs – 54,142
  9. Courchevel – 53,341
  10. Alpe d’Huez – 45,008
  11. Les 2 Alpes – 42,651
  12. La Plagne – 42,283
  13. Cauterets – 40,158
  14. Serre Chevalier – 37,131
  15. Avoriaz – 33,842
  16. Le Grand Bornand – 33,071
  17. Saint Lary – 30,021
  18. Vars – 28,256
  19. Méribel – 24,948
  20. Ax 3 Domaines – 22,501
  21. Les Gets – 19,178
  22. Orcières – 18,581
  23. La Norma – 17,908
  24. Le Dévoluy – 14,953
  25. Les Sept Laux – 14,298
  26. Peyragudes – 14,190
  27. Lac Blanc – 13,889
  28. Les Contamines – 13,446
  29. Châtel – 13,412
  30. Les Orres – 13,302
  31. Morzine – 12,999
  32. Montgenèvre – 11,799
  33. Saint François Longchamp – 11,698
  34. Valloire – 11,179
  35. Grand Tourmalet – 10,620
  36. Le Lioran – 10,409
  37. Les Saisies – 10,380
  38. Sainte Foy – 10,334
  39. Aussois – 10,175
  40. Piau-Engaly – 10,131
  41. Les Angles – 9,087
  42. Chamrousse – 8,393
  43. Risoul – 8,202
  44. La Pierre St Martin – 7,766
  45. Isola 2000 – 7642
  46. Gourette – 7,636
  47. Val Cenis Vanoise – 7,600
  48. Praloup – 7,302
  49. Arêches-Beaufort – 7,280
  50. Oz-en-Oisans – 6,529

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 January.

Top French ski resorts on Facebook (on 4 August ’14)

It has been an odd summer so far weather-wise, and it seems to have cast a bit of a damper on social media activity around the major French mountain resorts.

Fan growth of the top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook averaged just 1.6% in July, compared to 3.1% in July last year.

Only four resorts grew their likes by more than 5% in the month.

Cauterets (+12%) showed off its sunshine at every opportunity:

In Chamonix (+11%), if it’s cloudy, you can always climb a bit higher:

Meanwhile the two main Aravis resorts, La Clusaz (+6.5%) and Le Grand Bornand (+6.2%) continue to pursue the family summer market and hosted the Aravis & Cies family festival:

Here is the ranking in full, as recorded on 4 August 2014:

Top 5 French ski domains on Facebook

  1. Portes du Soleil – 115,364 fans
  2. Nouvelles Pyrénées – 47,830
  3. Haute Maurienne Vanoise – 40,724
  4. Les 3 Vallées – 24,330
  5. Grand Massif – 12,472

Top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook

  1. Val Thorens – 161,790 fans
  2. Megève – 114,993
  3. Chamonix – 69,747
  4. Tignes – 54,870
  5. Les Menuires – 50,502
  6. Courchevel – 49,486
  7. Les Arcs – 47,290
  8. Val d’Isère – 46,569
  9. La Clusaz – 45,919
  10. Alpe d’Huez – 40,415
  11. Les 2 Alpes – 37,045
  12. Cauterets – 36,372
  13. La Plagne – 32,346
  14. Serre Chevalier – 30,615
  15. Saint Lary – 27,767
  16. Avoriaz – 27,721
  17. Le Grand Bornand – 27,421
  18. Vars – 24,813
  19. Méribel – 20,491
  20. La Norma – 17,425
  21. Ax 3 Domaines – 16,983
  22. Les Gets – 16,488
  23. Le Dévoluy – 14,172
  24. Les Sept Laux – 12,970
  25. Lac Blanc – 12,618
  26. Peyragudes – 12,561
  27. Les Contamines – 12,543
  28. Châtel – 12,359
  29. Les Orres – 12,178
  30. Morzine – 11,723
  31. Orcières1850 – 11,415
  32. Montgenèvre – 10,572
  33. Aussois – 9,847
  34. Valloire – 9,746
  35. Grand Tourmalet – 9,611
  36. Sainte Foy – 9,194
  37. Piau-Engaly – 8,928
  38. Les Saisies – 8,335
  39. Les Angles – 8,003
  40. Le Lioran – 7,868
  41. Gourette – 7,071
  42. Praloup – 6,347
  43. La Pierre St Martin – 6,197
  44. Le Corbier – 5,440
  45. Samoëns – 5,158
  46. Arêches Beaufort – 5,000
  47. Metabief – 4,895
  48. Villard de Lans – 4,872
  49. Les Carroz – 4,844
  50. Luz Ardiden – 4,841

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 4 August.