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BUILDING A COMMUNITY: Social Media Tools Help Snow Sports Retailers Connect with Enthusiasts


By: Lou Dzierzak,

Lou DzierzakMore than ever before, snow sports retailers are using social media tools like Facebook and Twitter to build communities of loyal consumers.

“The most powerful market tool is word of mouth,” says Ryan Corwin, advertising manager, Bob Ward and Sons, Helena, MT. “That translates online as social media. Facebook, Twitter and others like Pinterest and Instagram allow us to have a voice with our customers.”

Elevation Sports - Click to view largerElevation Sports, Santa Monica, CA has used social media as a communications tool for over 3 years. A recent Facebook promotion attracted 3,000 “likes” from followers and friends. “It’s very exciting. You are able to reach such a large number of people with a single post or tweet,” says Rosemarie Li, social media manager, Elevation Sports. “I like to stay on top of what our audience is interested in and looking for. We want to make sure our customers know what’s going on as well as introduce them to new products.”

Basin Sports - Click to view largerBasin Sports, Killington, VT uses daily social media posts to keep followers informed about ski conditions, events and product information. The shop’s YouTube videos have generated more than 10,000 views. “That helps create more credibility and lets people know about what we live and breathe every day,” reports Bret Williamson, hardgoods manager, Basin Sports. “People will call the store asking questions about the products we feature in the videos.”

White Pine Touring Center - Click to view largerFacebook and Twitter posts are used to inform, educate, educate and entertain followers. “Social media been a great outlet for us to let people know about events at the store or in the community,” says Scott House, social media director, White Pine Touring Center, Park City, UT. “We work to make sure our posts are relevant for our customer.”

Bob Ward and Sons - Click to view largerWhile traditional media like print and radio play an important role in building awareness and preference for a shop, social media tools can have a more immediate reaction. “In Montana, the weather changes every 5 minutes. We can get a couple of feet of snow on the mountain in a couple of hours,” notes Corwin of Bob Ward and Sons. “We’ll post we have the skis for these conditions so come in and grab them. Social media allows a more dynamic message. Newspaper and radio you just have to let it run. There’s no changing it.”

With the rapid consumer acceptance of social media shop owners can no longer look at these tools as something to get to “some day.”

“Social media has changed the landscape for everyone in terms of marketing. Consumers are smart and tech savvy. They research products online and know what they want before they go into the store,” notes Mike Duncan, co-founder and Creative Director of Sage Island. “Many people are getting brand and product recommendations through social media. Product trends are being pushed out through tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It can be awkward if you are not attuned to these conversations and know what concerns consumers have about with particular products or services.”

SIA Retail to Consumer Marketing GuideSnowSports Industries America’s Retail to Consumer Marketing Guide offers a comprehensive set of recommended strategies for social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. The guide includes suggested headlines and message topics for timely social media posts.

View this complete article and past Best Practices articles at Practices.

Best Practices
Managing a successful snow sports specialty retail store requires expertise in an ever-changing array of business operations. Human resources, event planning, marketing, product selection, social media and e-commerce are just a few examples. Lou Dzierzak has written about these topics for over a decade. Best Practices will shorten the learning curve by offering case studies, resources and how-to tips from experts in specific fields. If you have suggestions for future topics, please feel free to contact Lou at