No Advertising Budget? No Problem.

Great user-generated photos are frequent at Silverton Mountain.

Great user-generated photos are frequent at Silverton Mountain.

Jon Woods and I had the opportunity this past week to take a day off of work and visit one of our favorite places in the entire state: Silverton Mountain. Silverton is a somewhat sleepy mining town that sits in the extremely steep San Juan Mountain Range between Ouray and Durango. It opened in 2002 with just one lift providing access to nearly 2,000 acres of backcountry-only terrain (there are no groomed runs and most are 40-percent+ grade), and another 22,000 acres accessible by their helicopter service. The mountain is only open Thursday through Sunday, and 90% of the season requires guides for visitors, ensuring that only a handful of skiers and boarders have access to the fresh snow daily.

Why is all of that background important? Silverton serves a fairly niche audience of hardcore skiers and backcountry enthusiasts, so they have to be that much more strategic to reach their customers in a meaningful way.

While enjoying an end-of-day après drink, we noticed a banner in the base yurt promoting Silverton’s Instagram channel. The concept is simple: Tag “@SilvertonMTN” or “#SilvertonMTN” in your Instagram photos from the mountain and Silverton will regram the best entries. Those that receive the most likes every other week win a free helicopter drop (an approximate $180 value).

Jon and I agreed this campaign is spot-on for a couple of key reasons:

  • Instagram is the perfect channel for Silverton’s audience. The mountain is highly visual in nature, and its audience is highly engaged on the Instagram platform.
  • They’re encouraging engagement in the moment. There might not be cell service in the yurt, but reminding your audience to share their own content in the moment is often a key driver for engagement.
  • Silverton’s Instagram account does a great job of sharing their customer’s posts – generating a ton of third-party, credible content for their own Instagram platform.
  • The giveaway is substantial enough to get people to stop and take notice. Everyone in that yurt wants a free heli drop!

By focusing on their niche audience’s existing interests – where they are active on social media, what kinds of content they want to engage with, and what kind of giveaway they might care about – Silverton has created a campaign that doesn’t require an advertising budget. But without an advertising budget, it has grown their Instagram account to more than 15,000 engaged followers and generates new user-generated content every week. It’s almost as impressive as the mountain itself.

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