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Brand and Personality: Connecting on Facebook

The term, “brand personality” refers to the human characteristics attributed to your brand. Marketing experts believe that people gravitate toward brands whose personalities match their own. This idea prevails within the ski school environment. It might even explain why a student would seek out a lesson with a specific Level 2 instructor, when a Level 3 has better qualifications. Social media — especially Facebook — provides a venue for ski instructors to let their brand personality shine through. In doing so, you have a better chance of attracting your ideal student.

The Five Dimensions of Brand Personality

Marketing professor and social psychologist Jennifer Aaker gave form to the concept called “Five Dimensions of Brand Personality.” They include:
1. Excitement
2. Sincerity
3. Ruggedness
4. Competence
5. Sophistication

Each dimension embodies a multitude of traits.
Branding

Your choice of Facebook page layout, photos, posts and interaction presents an organic display of your brand personality. Here are some examples:

Martin Bell: Ruggedness and Sophistication

Look at Martin Bell’s Facebook Page.
He was still skiing in June. Over the summer, he engages in other outdoor activities. In case his name doesn’t sound familiar, Bell was a highly accomplished Olympic ski racer, who obviously falls into the rugged personality dimension. Despite his celebrity, instead of bragging about his accomplishments, he actively engages with his Facebook friends and students. Having worked at a number of high-end resorts, Bell is charming and easy on the eyes. As such, he combines ruggedness and sophistication.

What type of class would you expect from Martin? Rather then tell you about his teaching specialties, he shows them to you. Look at these photos from his Mt. Hood Ski Camp.
This is skiing on the edge, both in the literal and figurative sense. As such, Martin is a “push your limits” type of brand.

Steve Lee: Ruggedness and Competence

As a backcountry guide, Steve Lee comes ruggedness with competance. Rugged, because, hey, it’s the backcountry. Competance, because he’s “The Wizard.”
In an article featured on Snows Best, Rachel Oakes Ash explains that ““Wizards are never late they just arrive in wizard time and everything falls into place,” and that “Steve’s The Wizard because everything turns out all right.” Teaching in both Australia and Japan, he keeps his followers engaged all year round.

As for the type of class to expect, we already know that he gives backcountry tours. In his posts, he refers his students by name and creates a community of backcountry skiers. Now, look at his photos Although this is the backcountry, there is less emphasis on the scary aspects of off-piste skiing, and more focus on the wide open spaces and sense of peace and solitude. Steve is an “explore beyond the ropes” type of brand.

Robin Barnes: Excitement and Sincerity

A member of the National Alpine Ski Team, Robin Barnes is an instructor-trainer at Heavenly, and the director of the ski school at Portillo in Chile. Frequently listed as one of Ski Magazine’s top 100 instructors, Robin has earned her bragging rights, but she doesn’t brag. Instead, she keeps followers engaged and excited all year round. Although she deserves superstar status, her posts portray her sincerity. Look on her Facebook page, and you’ll see that it’s her students that compliment her teaching skills.

Her various Timeline Photos hint at the type of class you would have with Robin. She is clearly part of the fun and playful brand.

Personal vs. Professional Pages

With the exception of Steve Lee, these instructors do not have separate personal and professional pages. Most ski instructors need both. Robin and Martin get away with the one-size-fits-all Facebook page because:

  1. Their reputations precede them, and they are already in high demand
  2. Skiing is both their life and their livelihood, so most of their Facebook posts are about skiing or outdoor activities
  3. They keep their political opinions off their Facebook pages
  4. They do not post about conspiracy theories or quack science
  5. They keep their personal problems off their Facebook page

If you are building your reputation as an instructor, you are building a business. That means you need a separate business page. Follow these guidelines to optimize both of your pages:

  1. To extend your reach, post teaching-related updates on your ski instructor page, then share them on your personal page.
  2. Know your audience. Are your students a late-night TV Craig Ferguson type of crowd, or more intune with a prime time Ellen DeGeneres type of host. Tailor your business page personality accordingly.
  3. Enable the “Follow” feature on your personal page, which allows students to follow you without befriending you. Then, check your privacy settings. To keep your professional reputation intact, block students from overtly political or personal posts.

Final Words

Very few ski instructors have a professional page. Those that do, often stop posting at the end of ski season. Their pages have no interaction with students, and thus do nothing to promote their business. Be unique and get ahead of your competition.

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