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Customer Paradigm

Social media works best when it’s a conversation with fans of your organization, who contribute images and content, because they love your brand.

This weekend, I was flying over Copper Mountain, Colorado, and managed to take an ariel photograph that I shared with my skiing buddies.

Copper Mountain saw it, and then shared it (with my permission and blessing) with the 63,506 people who like them on Facebook, the 19,100 people who follow them on Twitter, and their 17,336 followers on Instagram. Many of whom then retweeted and re-shared it as well. Kind of cool!

Why did this photo go viral / become shared so much? What did I get out of it (besides a newsletter article)? And what can you learn for social media success in the future?

Why? Read more below>>

But first… here’s the image:
Copper Mountain Ariel Photograph

View larger image | View full high-res image (20 mb)

Why did this photo go viral / become shared?

Now I could have tried to be the old, grumpy photographer and attempted to license the image to them. It’s a good image, but it’s not that amazing. (I’m a harsh critic of my own work.). Plus, I wanted to share it with my skiing friends.

Copper Shares via Twitter

But I think that this image was successful in social media for three reasons:

1. The image reinforced the message Copper was trying to promote.

“It’s snowing up in the mountains, even if it’s sunny in the front range of Boulder and Denver.”

This time of the year is difficult for ski areas. They are trying to get people to purchase season passes, and make travel arrangements for the winter. The mountain is ramping up for the beginning ski season, but people in Boulder and Denver are still wearing t-shirts and flip-flops.

But just an hour and a half away (and 4,600 vertical feet higher), it’s been snowing. But how do you really show that?

This image did just that. And a bird’s eye image, showing the ski runs filled in with snow, and all of the other mountains surrounding the resort capped in white, reinforced that they have snow.

Copper Mountain Shares the Image on Facebook

2. Unique “God’s Eye View”

This type of image is not something that is easy or economical to capture. Ariel photography tends to be expensive.

If you’ve ever tried to charter a helicopter that is capable of flight at 14,000 feet, you know that they run about $1,200 per hour. Planes can be little less expensive, but most skilled pilots don’t want to fly in a tiny plane in the turbulent mountains, especially with the door removed.

The FAA doesn’t allow drones for this purpose, especially at this height in commercial airspace. Satellite imagery may be a good answer some day, but for now, the price of it can be a bit much, too.

This isn’t a common photograph. It’s not often that someone in an airplane happens to be flying by a specific location, when the lighting is good it’s not cloudy, and they happen to have a real camera.

Instagram Posting

3. It’s a high quality image, using professional tools (vs. an iPhone)

Most images shared on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are taken with an iPhone. After all, most people’s smart phones are always within reach.

But a lot of those images tend to be low quality. Honestly, a lot of them just suck.

I know that’s harsh. Not all of the images taken with iPhone are bad. Some are amazing. For the record, I do take photos with my iPhone, too. But a lot of them, not so much.

But because most images are shot with blurry smart phones, the ones that are shot with professional equipment often stand out.

For this image, I used a full-frame, professional camera (Canon 5D Mark III) and a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. Given that the plane was moving at 400 miles an hour or so, I used a fast shutter speed of 1/500 second exposure to freeze the image and reduce the chance of blur. I also used a small aperture, f/14, and a low ISO of 100, to create a sharp image that would look good.

I had to shoot this through the double-walled airplane window (yuck), but given that the focus was so far away, this didn’t degrade the quality all that much.

Free Skier Magazine Favorited it


Until next time,

Jeff FinkelsteinFounder, Customer Paradigm
Jeff Finkelstein
Founder, Customer Paradigm


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