Banff ground squirrel becomes a social media sensation

Banffs famous groundsquirrel

Banff's famous ground squirrel (from

Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) spend millions of dollars to produce the perfect photos and videos to attract the attention of visitors and the media. Nowadays we do our best to get this content out into the social media spehere to try and attract some attention. Yet, as the Banff ground squirrel has shown us in the last week, nowadays it is not the carefully staged hero photo or travel video that makes it – it is a simple snapshot gone wrong when a curious ground squirrel decided to jump into the frame. Totally unplanned and unstaged, but utterly classic – no ad agency could have replicated such an honest moment in any photo shoot. The picture was featured in the media around the world, making the front-page of many national newspapers, and being featured on newscasts worldwide.

It reminded me of Susan Boyle, the Brittish Got Talent sensation. No-one would have guessed she would be successful, but 73 million YouTube views don’t lie.

The question is, how does one find a groundsquirrel or a Susan Boyle? These examples show that one doesn’t – they have to come to you. They must be real moments, real people. Such is the new reality of social media.

Who is Canada’s next ground squirrel? It may well be Lucky the dog. Lucky stars in several YouTube videos from Labrador – one with a collapsing iceberg, and several where he valiantly barks at nearby humpback whales. With his trademark red doggie lifevest, Lucky may one of these days become a social media sensation as well.

But what can a DMO do to prepare when such an opportunity does present itself? Be ready. Create a social media strategy, have a Youtube and Flickr channel ready to upload such a video or photo too, and most importantly, have a Public Relations strategy in place to get the word out to the mainstream media as well. Then, if a great opportunity presents itself, you can capitalize on it immediately. Banff Lake Louise Tourism’s PR team went into overdrive the minute they realized the power of this picture, and the results were phenomenal. Tourism Newfoundland and Labrador has also worked hard to promote Lucky, and find additional footage of him.

» Banff ground squirrel becomes a social media sensation

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