Epicski.com is an online skiing community. It started long before skiers showed their faces on Facebook or tweeted their turns on Twitter. In a sense, Epicski was the first social media site for skiers. Ski instructors quickly saw the benefits of participating in the Epicski.com forum. By answering questions from current or potential students, they proved their expertise, and increased the number of new and return clients. Some people even planned their trips around their favorite instructors availability!
So impressive was Epicski’s success, that On the Snow, a subsidiary of Vail Resorts,, eventually decided to purchase it! The Epicski story proves that online communication and engagement really works for social CRM, or Social Customer Relationship Management. Whether you plan to join the community, or set up your own ski instructor social media page, this article shows you how to interact with students online and grow your ski teaching practice.
A Social Site For Skiers
Epicski.com began as a result of founder August Cename’s boredom with the corporate lifestyle. Sitting in a claustrophobic cubicle and daydreaming about epic powder days, he played with HTML code and created the Epicski.com website. The site went live in 1998. Cename describes the early Epicski as
a sad little offering of personal reflections and vacation photos, and the most featureless, utilitarian discussion forum application the web has ever seen.
He told his friends about the site and they told their friends. Soon, the site went viral, drawing ski instructors, racers, photographers, gear manufacturers and enthusiasts from all parts of the globe. The website now has 45,883 members! Ski instructors discovered that insightful posts and detailed answers to questions helped them build a dedicated following – both online and on the slopes. Meet-ups at different resorts became regular Epicski events. Members made new real-life friends. Several romantic relationships and marriages ensued. Instructors who were not adverse to offering occasional free ski tips were rewarded with private lesson requests.
An Academy Is Born
Epicski Academy, a multi-day, on-snow ski clinic, evolved from the forum discussions and on-slope get-togethers. Epicski Academy instructors had a unique advantage at these ski clinics. Before they even met potential students, they could read their forum posts and identify specific goals, skills, and areas in need of improvement.
In addition to the ski clinic, Epicski Academy included ski conditioning classes, lectures on health topics such as altitude sickness and injury prevention, boot-fitting and gear demos. Instructors were able to build a large referral network of ski-related professionals. That type of marketing is invaluable.
Epicski Academy Aftermath
The learning experience — in the form of forum discussions — continued after the event. If students agreed, instructors could show videos of the lessons. Of course, this inspired other instructors and ski enthusiasts to add their insights and suggestions for improvement. The videos also inspired an “I’ll have what she/he is having” reaction from people who did not attend the event. Imagine watching a previously perpetual intermediate as they wreak havoc on a mogul field!
The Power of Pictures
The Epicski.com was an early adapter to visual media. This factor definitely contributed to their success. In fact, visual content is the new SEO. Here’s why:
– Visual information gets processed 60,000 times faster than text
– Our short term memory processes words. Images get etched into our long-term memory
– Most people remember 20 percent of what they read and 80 percent of what they see.
The Epic Benefits of Epicski and Social Media
Join the EpicSki community, but don’t just lurk. Active participants receive points for every comment or “like¨ of their threads. When you accumulate 50 points, Epicski awards you with an upgrade to instructor. This allows you to appear on their instructor list, along with your resort and a description of your teaching specialties.
Even better, you can link your posts to your instructor social media page and extend their reach. If you decide against joining this industry-leading platform, the Epicski forum still provides an ideal sample of how to interact — and in some cases, how not to interact — with students online. Explore the posts of the most popular instructors, and see what they are doing right. Likewise, observe how other instructors ruin their reputations by posting vague, easily misinterpreted and condescending information. This type of learning experience is priceless!