Vail locals are navigating the world of social media |

Vail locals are navigating the world of social media

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – It seems that everyone has a Facebook or Twitter account, but not everyone necessarily knows how to use those social media tools in the right ways.

That’s why Rebecca Ruck has started a local chapter of Social Media Club, a national group that connects media makers to promote a common understanding of social media.

Social Media Club Vail has met three times and members are already learning about what not to do in the social media world.

Rich Staats, founder of Secret Stash Media, led the group’s latest meeting Tuesday with a presentation about Web presence. He said too many people are engaging their businesses in social media without any real strategies or goals.

“It’s getting into the deep end before knowing how to swim,” Staats said.

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are changing the face of business marketing. Take Vail Resorts’ decision last year to pull 80 percent of its print advertising budget, mainly in industry magazines in which the company had to purchase ads up to six months in advance of publication, to focus on getting its message out through the emerging trend of social media.

“All of a sudden, there’s a new medium that no one really has a road map for,” Katz said at the 2009 Cable Communicators Forum in Denver last fall.

While big companies like Vail Resorts hire people specifically to run their social media, smaller companies are having more trouble fully understanding how to benefit from it because they’re getting in over their heads, Staats said.

Businesses without their own websites that try to establish themselves online through social media aren’t owning their information, he said.

“A solid Web presence with fresh content is a great way to drive traffic and establish yourself as an information leader,” Staats said. “When you’re doing something on Facebook or Twitter, assume the information isn’t yours. When you have good information, you want to bring it home so you can own it.”

Staats said people need to have a goal they want to accomplish through social media, and that goal needs to be more than just talking to people.

Vail Resorts, for example, uses social media to promote its mountain resorts with things like videos of fresh powder skiing or updates on Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn’s ski races. Vail Resorts has many goals with its social media, with one of the most important being the goal to promote different messages to its consumers as quickly as they need to spread those messages.

“Every week there’s a different message to get out there,” Katz said.

That’s why Vail Resorts has pulled back on advertising in magazines that need the ad created up to six months in advance. Social media and a struggling economy has made it difficult to know what the message should be six months down the road, Katz said, making social media all the more valuable because it’s immediate.

Staats said having a home base, like Vail Resorts has through its and websites, is the biggest thing companies can do to establish an online identity that will never go away.

Social media sites are just tools, he said.

Staats gave the example of, and how three years ago that site was the biggest thing.

“Now, nobody uses Myspace anymore,” he said. “If (the social media site) isn’t the biggest anymore, we’re not going to be loyal.”

Ruck’s hope with Social Media Club Vail is to bring people interested in social media, from those who use it for personal use to small businesses, together to learn from each other.

Ruck said a year ago she wasn’t even sending text messages, and now she’s running a social media management company.

“I want us to learn and share,” Ruck said. “If you get it, share it – that’s the motto.”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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