People on linkedin were discussing whether social media campaigns are worth organising and keeping. When it comes to extreme sports such as Via Ferrata, rock climbing and other extreme sports then I believe that the audience is ready and enthusiastic enough for a social media presence to be desirable.
Via Ferrata is an outdoor sport that can be practiced in France, Italy, Spain, Switezrland, Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Peru. As a result of the diverse place where this sport can be carried out so social media became an excellent avenue through which to share information about the sport.
I have loved the sport of via ferrata for five years now, half a decade. What I loved about it was the simplicity of the sport. After just two or three climbing lessons and going with a guide once I saw that I could handle via ferrata comfortably without a guide. I always insisted that I would take people with rock climbing experience, not absolute beginners.
Via Ferrata is a specific sport requiring specific equipment and specific experience. It requires a head for heights and an ability to hike for an hour or two before a climb and another hour or two after the climb. As the locations are usually remote it also requires someone with a car and whom can navigate.
Social networks such as Glocals for Geneva and Lausanne, Xdreams, for Geneva specifically and the Via Ferrata Suisse group for the French speaking part of Switzerland are good places to find participants. The first two examples are to connect with the international/english speaking community and the latter is to connect with the French speaking community.
Glocals is a local social network helping the international community in Geneva, Lausanne and other cities to meet up and be active. Through this site you can meet people to work on hangover, meet people to scuba dive and meet people to do outdoor sports such as hiking, climbing, via ferrata, swimming, canyoning and much more. Due to the nature of the social network are spread around Switzerland and the meeting point is usually the event, with car sharing from strategic points.
Via Ferrata Suisse is a nice online community for French speaking via ferrata practitioners on Facebook. As they are spread across the French speaking parts of Switzerland they can provide information and tips on via ferrata that are local.
Aside from connecting people social networks and social media are great for the sharing of pictures, personal accounts and textual information about via ferrata. Some people want beautiful landscapes and so pictures will help them select which via ferrata to do. Others are afraid of heights so they will avoid being too far from the ground. A third group will look at how exertional via ferratas will be. I have seen two people run out of energy at Plan Praz and I have seen everyone feel weak by the time they finish the Leukerbad Via Ferrata.
Tourism professionals and equipment manufacturers can benefit from a social media presence. I see that Iloveclimbing, Suunto, PETZL, Mammut and other brands actively share the adventures that either their athletes or enthusiasts of their equipment are enjoying. It’s a great way to make me dream of going to some locations, getting that piece of kit or trying an activity at that time of day.
To give a specific example I have wanted to do the Moléson by night Via Ferrata for years now and have never got around to it. For two or three years it was because of work and this year it was because of the weather and because I had already booked Leukerbad for the weekend it was moved to. Next year I will make it.
I love suunto, Mammut and PETZL. Rather than advertise to the city dweller like Apple, Fitbit and withings do they organise social media campaigns around the great outdoors and around extreme sports. As a result of their social media policy I identify very strongly with their products. In the case of suunto I have dive computers and fitness watches. I understand the passion that their athletes represent in their social media campaigns.
Social media is about socialisation and passion. Via Ferrata is a sport that people feel passionate about but because it requires physical fitness and a head for heights your pre-existing group of friends may not be the best suited for your passion to take off. That’s where social networks and social media can help find new via ferrata, see what to be wary of and meet new people. According to these three parameters Via Ferrata and social media are perfect for each other. Sports companies, tourism offices and transport infrastructure would result from a social media presence.