A few days ago, my friend Sean Howard left a great post on how 'messy' social media can be for companies. One of the commenters was Eric Hoffman, who shared that he sold his company, Park City Mountain Resort(located in Park City, Utah) on the idea of blogging. He added that it wasn't an easy sell, in that "our boss gave us the caveat that if the blog created some sort of 'problem' that we would be out our bonuses. Well, it's now over three years later and we've gotten our bonuses every year since the blog has been up..." Sean suggested to me that Park City's blog would be a great candidate for a Company Blog Checkup, and I agreed completely.
First, the content is wisely positioned as giving an 'up-to-the-minute' accounting of the current weather and slope conditions at the resort. This is a great idea, since many travelers will want to know this information ahead of time. Also love how the latest post has an embedded video where they interview a local official about the condition of the slopes, and how the weather will affect it. As well as great video of the current conditions, including a LOT of snowfall! This is something I think the blog should do more of, and I would also create a YouTube channel for the videos, if they don't have one already. This should be added to the blog so visitors can watch them, and it also serves as a promotional tool for the resort.
Now let's move to the comments. In quickly scanning the blog, you'll notice that most posts do have comments, which is a good sign. But in checking the posts, I quickly discovered that the bloggers are replying directly to each comment. For example, the post on 12-15 has 12 comments, but for each comment, the blogger has apparently added their reply directly to the comment left by the reader. So a post might have 12 comments, but each of those 12 comments has a reply 'added' by the blogger. This is unusual as I've only seen this a few other times. If Eric or one of the other bloggers read this, please chime in and explain what the process is for doing this, do you guys go in and manually add your reply to the reader's comment? While I don't completely agree with doing this, I could see where it would make it easier for the readers to get their questions answered. And either way, this show that the blog has plenty of interaction in the comments section, which is very good.
Next, let's tackle the posting schedule. On avg, it looks like the blog has recently stepped up its volume of posts, as 'ski season' arrived. So far there have been 8 posts this month, when in past months there were usually less than that for the entire month. One suggestion for cranking out more posts during the 'slow' season; write a few 'how-to' posts. It could be giving advice on what to pack for your trip (Before you leave for the slopes, here's 10 items that MUST be in your travel bag!), or when's the best time to plan your trip, based on your level of expertise as a skier. And the good thing about these posts is that when business does pick up (like now), you can link back to these posts. Like at the end of a post talking about how 'the time is now' to hit the slopes, you could add a link back to that post you wrote in June about what to pack for the trip.
Finally, let's look at the sidebars. As every veteran Company Blog Checkup reader knows, I always want to see a picture of the bloggers at the top, and with this blog, that's exactly what I get. Ideally, I would like to see each pic link to the blogger's bio, and while I don't get that here, they do explain at the top how you can find the bios on the About page. Which is just fine.
Another area I look for is non-company content. The blog does a good job with this, adding links to 'snow reports', as well as a blogroll with some of their favorite blogs on it. Both good ideas. They also have the 'greatest hits' like recent posts, archives, and a few subscriber buttons. I would recommend adding a better explanation of what RSS is, and how it lets you receive new blog content as it comes out. Also, if they haven't already, I would advise the bloggers to set up an account with Feedburner and at least create an email subscription option.
And finally, there's a small link at the bottom to the resort's account on Twitter. If any of the bloggers are also on Twitter (I know Eric is), then they should add links to their accounts, probably on their About page.
Overall, this looks to be a solid blogging effort, and Eric explained to me that they have "seen a consistent increase in the number of visitors to our blog every year".
And now let's break down the scoring for the blog:
Content: 27 (Out of a possible 35) - I like how the blog is currently positioned to cover the current slope conditions. I would like to see more videos as I think these are also a promotional vehicle for the resort.
Comments: 31 (Out of a possible 35) - Very active comments section. I'm not completely sold on bloggers replying directly to each comment in the comment, but the sheer volume of comments from the readers, and the promptness of replies from the bloggers, is impressive.
Posting Schedule: 8 (Out of a possible 15) - Looks to be decent now, but big gaps in the offseason, would try to work on closing those.
Sidebars: 10 (Out of a possible 15) - Pics of the bloggers at top of blog makes this score. Also like the weather-related links.
Total Score: 76 (Out of a possible 100)
If anyone from Park City Mountain Resort wants to discuss this Company Blog Checkup with me, feel free to leave a comment here, or email me. If your company would like to hire me to do an extensive checkup of your blog, or if you want to launch your own blog, you can click here for more information on my blogging and social media consulting services.
Next week I'll profile another blogging company, and if anyone can think of a company blog that they want me to do a checkup on, feel free to email me! For a list of all the blogs that have been profiled so far in the Company Blog Checkup series, click here.
Very insightful critique - thank you so much for including our blog in your check up series!
In regards to your questions/comments:
* We have a YouTube channel that we're starting to build out, it's at http://www.youtube.com/pcresort and we've made it a priority to try to capture a bunch of video this season.
* We starting responding inline to commenter’s posts when we first allowed comments. It still seems to work well for us in that most of the comments we receive are looking for a direct response and this was a nice way to respond individually, particularly as we don’t have a comment threading option setup.
* We're getting ready to unveil a new family style blog that will have a ton of great travel planning content. We will be tying that blog in with this one, so I will certainly take your suggestion of trying to use some of that content to fill out lulls in our posting schedule.
* That’s a great suggestion of using our Feedburner account for the email subscription option as well as more details about RSS; these are items I’ve been remiss in putting up and will look into including in the near future.
Mack, please drop me a line if you are ever in our neck of the woods, and I hope to meet you in person at another MPDM or other such event!
I second Eric when I say thank you so very much for including our blog in your check up series. Your feedback was very helpful in helping us determine where we can make improvements to the blog.
We are excited about the launch of our new "Adventure" blog targeting families planning winter vacations. It's set to launch early January. We'd love to hear what you have to say about it.
Director of Marketing/Communications
Park City Mountain Resort
I also have a comment of my own. I would've preferred a much more wider part where the content is published. I think that this could be an improvement because they love to post big pictures and seem a little out of place.
It's just a design point of view.
Thanks for the mention, Mack.
I love this blog because it is a quality effort but I have to admit that it was the drama that drew my attention, initially.
Anyone working to initiate a blog effort at a company has likely faced a similar if not even more negative response from management. I love that this group chose to proceed and have since developed a vibrant connection with their most devoted fans. Bravo!
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