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