The Social Media Rollercoaster

Round we go...Summer is coming and – between the torrential downpours – the sun will be shining once again.

Last weekend, while queueing up* for Adventure Island‘s RAGE rollercoaster on Southend Seafront, I began wondering how theme parks could use social media and further engender positive word of mouth.

And, it was after reading Joe’s post earlier this week around the Social Season Ticket, did I then decide to put my thoughts down on paper – so to speak.

To my mind, theme parks and attractions have a fantastic opportunity when it comes to social media. Standing in line amongst the other would-be screamers, my brain started buzzing. So much so, I made notes –

‘Wouldn’t it be cool if each main attraction at a major theme park had its own Twitter account broadcasting not only for ‘on brand’ messaging [ie: ‘Boo!’ for the haunted house] but also – and much more importantly – up to date queue time information. As a guide for the more socially-savvy guest, this service could prove invaluable.’

This is not an untouched area in this industry. Back in February, Alton Towers announced they were a launch partner for Facebook Deals here in the UK. According to their site:

“On Friday 18th February 2011, the Alton Towers Theme Park opened a day earlier than planned for the Half Term holiday, offering exclusive use for anyone who checked in with Facebook Deals on that day. Guests were able to enter the Theme Park with up to three friends, completely free. 100 lucky people will also claimed a hotel stay on the night of 18 February 2011, completely free!”

Very swish.

As with any industry, it really does depend on how much time and money theme parks want to invest in making this a success; is it a case of a simple Facebook promotion [Like ‘Thorpe Park’ on Facebook and get 10% off your ticket entry] or do you want to go the whole hog and have Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare integrated across every branded touch point [including your entrance ticket].

My advice?

As ever, choose an objective and stick to it

  • Want to increase footfall?
    Great, run an online ticket promotion
  • Want to sell more gifts + toys?
    Offer Foursquare deals at specific stores across the park
  • Want to help control traffic around the park?
    Introduce ride-only Twitter accounts which tweet when the queues reach over an hour

One last idea from me –

Why don’t theme park ride photographs post straight to Facebook?

This is such an obvious and quick win. Photos get uploaded to Facebook, guests like the page and then are able to tag themselves post-visit. Ultimately, sharing branded experiences with their Facebook friends using branded photos.

It’s certainly better than forking out £8.00 for an old school photograph that you’ll probably get crumpled up on the way home…

All of that aside; as an avid theme park fan myself, if Twitter was used as an information service for each ride? I’d be there like a shot.


*Yes. This is how my brain works even on my day off

Last updated by at .

Author: James Whatley

Experienced advertising and communications strategist working in brand, games, and entertainment. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x

10 thoughts on “The Social Media Rollercoaster”

  1. Great idea, but you’ve got to remember that there’s a big commission on people taking those photos home with them. That £8 photo costs pennies to print and has very little in overhead costs other than that McJobs running the stall. The photo equipment and software probably paid for themselves in the first week or two of operation, the rest is repeated profit. There’s no profit in putting the photos on facebook for free.

    James Whatley Reply:

    Completely valid argument Justin – and one I thought of earlier too 😉
    Instead of playing £8 for the photo, why not pay £4 and have Alton Towers post the photo direct to my Facebook wall there and then?

    Realtime web and all that 😉

    Justin Reply:

    yep, there has to be some payment, otherwise I can’t see them taking it on board. It’s too big a revenue stream otherwise.

  2. Some great ideas about an as-yet untapped application for social. Seems to me that Foursquare and Facebbok deals in particular are being massively overlooked by business in the entertainment/retail fields. There’s so much potential for increased online buzz/footfall/ revenue.

    I’d just like to briefly mention another business in the leiusre industry using to social to good effect. Brentwood Karting is an innocuous kart track tucked away in the leafy suburbs of Essex, but with a crucial social layer woven into the experience which left me with a great impression of the place.

    Upon arriving at the track, all users are asked to log in to Facebook and connect with the ‘Brentwood Karting’ app. As soon as the racing was over, race positions and lap times were posted on each drivers wall for all to see. Simple, but a really nice touch which demonstrated them going the extra mile (no pun intended!) to please customers.

    Activities like this are always worthy of a Tweet or Status update to let all your friends know how you fared, so the automated system they used just seemed to make sense.

  3. Loved these ideas James!  Could also look at deals on fast track tickets etc if you tweet at the ride about que times or something like that. On a recent trip to thorpe park I downloaded the app specifically to monitor que times (more for the company in which I was on the day than for me) and it didn’t even work.  This space lends itself to a whole realm of opportunities for a far improved customer experience if executed to through fool proof social tools.  As long as our phones don’t get drowned when on a log flume we can all tweet our way to the front of a que in no time.

    James Whatley Reply:

    Fast track twitter tickets? I like it! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Nina, good to see you.

    [and a Thorpe Park iPhone app huh? Nice idea, shame it didn’t work]

  4. I noticed something I didn’t expect on a trip to Thorpe Park a fair few months ago, all of the rides had their own individual Foursquare check-ins.

    I thought  maybe I could maybe manage to steal a mayorship of a ride, or at the very least pick up a few points for new checkins, but there seemed to be a recurring theme, the same guy seemed to be the mayor of ALL of the rides. Not cool. The amount of check-ins this guy had suggested to me that he was probably staff, or he went to Thorpe Park way too much.

    Assuming he was staff, yeah it’s a great ego boost for him to boost his 4Sq mayorship numbers, but it’s a massive deterrent for newcomers or even regulars to engage with such an organised setup using 4Sq.  I didn’t know,  nor was presented by checking in, of any benefit to checking in either which was a massive shame.

  5. So looks like some Theme Parks have taken your advice James 😉  Some interesting experience sharing going on at Luna Park in Sydney and Great Wolf Lodge resort where they have used Facebook photo tagging, check the link

Comments are closed.