Maven Michelle Leroux’ Top 5 Ways to Slay the Social Media Scene

  1. Choose Your Weapons. Use Instagram. (Sorry, word-nerds, but pictures trump everything.) Hootsuite will save your life. And your sanity. As for rising buzz, think geo.
  2. Make friends. Embrace synergies.
  3. Privacy doesn’t exist. Give up the myth.
  4. Every now and then, get random. Despite all your strategy, sheer randomness often gets the most responses. Go figure.
  5. Be dedicated. Social media is not free. If you really want to slay it, dedicate resources to it.

This summer, I had the chance to officially interview a long-time friend and colleague, Michelle Leroux (@michelleleroux) for a profile currently running in Whistler the Magazine of Whistler’s most prolific and influential tweeters.

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Photo by Bonny Makarewicz.

Curse those damn word-counts… There was so much juicy goodness in that conversation, and Michelle’s expertise in the twittersphere and social world is so deep, that I was inspired to share the Uncut version.

What brought you to Whistler, once upon a time?

I started my career in PR with Panorama Mountain Village and a opening for a Senior Public Relations Officer in the Whistler Blackcomb PR department in 2004 brought me to Whistler. No, I did not get a badge.

How much time per day do you spend on social media tweeting/posting/blogging/facebooking/instagramming?

Between work related accounts, Whistler Is Awesome and my personal accounts… probably a conservative 3 hours. If I really measured the time I would probably be shocked.

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What could you not live without?

If this is supposed to be a technology based answer I would say my MacBook. The iPhone is awesome but nothing will beat the functionality of a laptop. If this is personal, it would be a toss up between wine and books.

Who are some of the clients you have helped get their social media game on?

Back in the day I spearheaded Whistler Blackcomb’s social media presence on Facebook and then Twitter. More recently as a freelancer (2009-2012) I have worked with the Whistler Arts Council, Crankworx, Resort Municipality of Whistler, Endeavor Snowboards, and a variety of small businesses in Whistler through the social media classes I teach through the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.

Why do you think social media is a good thing for Whistler, as a resort, and as a community?

Whistler gives very good social. The natural surroundings, activities and non-stop events make Whistler an envy-inducing tweet factory. That being said, the goals of most people “working” in the social realm in our community are very similar – we are sharing news that will help drive awareness and visitation to the resort. So there are a lot of great synergies in Whistler’s online community. Most importantly though, are the people “playing” in the social realm. Their content is even more powerful since they become authentic third party ambassadors through their photos and videos, and they directly influence their friends and followers. The icing on the cake is that we can then share their content (to that person’s delight) to further engage and inspire our audience.

Why do people follow you? What do they get from you?

I will often use my personal accounts to seed communications that I am working on so people may follow me to stay in the know on what is going on in Whistler. When I am driving other social media accounts my personal ones do tend to dry up a little because I don’t have the bandwidth to do more – like this summer when I was responsible for Crankworx, Whistler Blackcomb, Whistler Mountain Bike Park and Whistler Is Awesome. When I am driving the personal accounts, I would say I offer a window into life in Whistler plus random tidbits that I find interesting… mostly about social media and public relations.

How do you keep your personal persona separate from your professional one? ie Do you ever post the same tweet from multiple accounts?

My personal account is not very personal; privacy in the social realm is a farce. That being said, you will find opinions and maybe the occasional curse on my personal accounts while on a professional account I keep things very politically correct and objective.  In regards to duplication of messaging, while very tempting I would never do it. If I want the same message to go out on multiple accounts I will choose one to lead the message and RT from the secondary accounts.  If I have time I  will also write a unique message for each account that better portrays each brand’s voice.

What is the most important thing about social media?

Current photography – when you are limited to a Facebook status or a 140 character tweet, the proverbial 1000 words that a photograph supplements are invaluable and the single most powerful tool you have to engage an audience.

If you could pin your driving passion down to just one word, what would it be?


Who are your favourite Whistler social media peeps?

Mike Douglas (@MikeDSki), Tyler Mills (@Tyler_Mills), Lisa Richardson (@PembyGrl), Les Anthony (@docleslie), Jess Smith (@JessWhistler). I also have to include Amber Turnau (@AmberTurnau) even though she just moved to Vancouver.

What are you most looking forward to doing this winter 2012.13?

Leading the Whistler Blackcomb PR team, snowboarding and Scandinave Spa‘ing on still snowy nights.


What topics or events are most likely to feature a lot in your twitter feed this winter?

I will probably be talking about snow a lot, documenting fun nights during events like Cornucopia and the Whistler Film Festival, and hopefully tweeting about a few travel adventures outside of Whistler. Sometimes I use Twitter to reach out to journalists or media outlets in a professional capacity. To the delight of some, and perhaps disgust of others, my cats Martin and Mitzvah are my favourite Instagram subjects.

You are a vocal champion for Whistler – as the PR manager at Whistler Blackcomb, as the editrix of Whistler is Awesome, and you served as the first the community representative on the RMOW RMI Oversight Committee. What keeps fuelling your passion for this place?

Out of all the places I have lived I feel like my roots are the deepest in Whistler. I have had friends come and go but there has never been a day when I didn’t feel like I had amazing people by my side. Nobody comes to Whistler to make money so when you are working and collaborating with a group of people that are here because they simply love the lifestyle and the place it totally changes the dynamic.

What do you wish more people knew about Whistler?

I think our arts’ tourism scene is just starting to emerge and I would love to see that take off more – things like the workshops offered with artists like Chili Thom through the Whistler Arts Council, classes at The Point, Blake Jorgenson’s Whistler Outdoor Photography Workshops and Momentum Ski Camp’s Exposure clinic are just a few of the awesome art experiences out there.

I just read an expert say that social media players should follow the rule of thirds, and their posts should comprise 33% stuff about their brand/persona, 33% stuff from other sources that related to you and your work and 33% just be completely randomly yourself. Do you ascribe to this? Does that fit roughly what you do and/or recommend?

I try to follow this and recommend the rule of thirds. Random info is often what will get the most engagement. Even though people say they don’t want to know what you had for breakfast…if you post a photo of it, a lot of people are going to look at it. Including content from other sources is neighbourly and helps to ensure others will engage with you and share your content.

Do you tweet when you’re on the mountain, skiing/riding?

Yes, I love Instagram for this since I can post a photo to that app and then share to Twitter and Facebook; essentially letting me make friends in all three channels insanely jealous with just one post.

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What do you think is the next most exciting thing to watch for in the social media sphere?

Socially ambient or geo-social apps. This emerging technology takes something like FourSquare to the next level by potentially allowing businesses to engage consumers in their vicinity (that are using the app) and engage with them by sending a deal or offer instead of having to wait for a check in by the user.  Check out Glancee or Highlight as examples of geo-social apps. A platform that will be great for businesses hasn’t really emerged yet but a lot of people are talking about the amazing potential so I am sure we will see something cool soon.

How does an entity like Whistler Blackcomb continue to lead the industry from a social point of view?

Whistler Blackcomb has always been at the forefront of the social media charge and one of our strengths is that the resources needed to dominate are committed. Social media is not free and for an organization as large and diverse as WB, it isn’t something you can do well off the side of your desk. For the last two years staff members have attended the world’s largest and most respected social media conference – SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas. Commitment to learning opportunities and to building connections with others working in the social realm is invaluable.  Whistler Blackcomb also works with Origin Design + Communications, a local agency that has done an outstanding job of integrating social into all of our marketing campaigns. At the end of the day, the experiences that Whistler Blackcomb embodies is what really drives the success of our social media platforms…we partner with some of the best storytellers in the world to share this amazing, beautiful, exciting and aspirational place and people always want to see and hear more!

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