Creating an Avalanche Online
I had the great pleasure of working with the Yukon Avalanche Association again this year to promote avalanche safety for the Easter Long Weekend. This is the first time I've run a similar campaign two years in a row and we saw a dramatic increase in participation in the online campaign in the second year.
Spring brings beautiful weather and the mountains beckon to snowmobilers, skiers, and boarders alike. Spring also can bring with it dangerous conditions as the snow melts, and settles, and random snow and rain wreak havoc - especially in the Yukon.
We ran the same campaign materials as last year. Shout out to Mary Binsted Designs for artistic direction and layout. We ran ads in community papers, placed posters around town, played radio ads, and placed large roadside sandwich boards on the highway on the way out to the Haines Pass - the most popular Easter Weekend destination. The Yukon Avalanche Association tech team was out in the mountains to answer questions and we ran the online Sled Smart contest. We focused the campaign on snowmobilers to address the need for increased awareness in this community. Most avalanche deaths and accidents in recent years have been snowmobile related.
We used Wildfire to run the online contest through Facebook, Twitter and a contest microsite. We asked backcountry users to tell us how they sled smart for a chance to win $650 in avalanche safety gear. In 2011 the contest garnered 200 views and 30 entries. This year we doubled our Facebook page Likes from 385 to 690, and garnered over 600 contest views and 211 entries. Facebook posts regularly garnered between 300 and 1000 views.
The Yukon Avalanche Association launched in 2010, and was just starting to use social media back then. Since I last worked with them while at Tipping Point Strategies - we completed a business plan, communications plan and strategic plan for the agency - they have been working hard to build their audience. They built a new website and have been promoting their new avalanche risk-assessment tools via their social media channels. The results from this campaign are proof of the payoff of their steady progress and of the value of online contests and campaigns to build audience.
It's great to see this hardworking team of dedicated volunteers succeeding to bring a much needed and very valuable resource to the Yukon. I've never done backcountry myself - unless you count a horrible failed attempt at Log Cabin in which I snowboarded down the mountain about 5 feet at a time - but have many friends who count on these tools to stay safe.