Social networking websites and other “new media” are easy to use, even for non computer sorts, and they can provide real benefit to any bass club.
By Jeff Samsel
Tweets, fan pages, chat rooms, blogs… it’s all gibberish to many bass club members, and for some anglers, there’s probably no need for that to ever change. That said, the “new media,” as blogs and social networking websites are collectively known, is a major part of today’s communications scene, and for many bass clubs and members, websites such as Facebook and Twitter provide outstanding opportunities.
Clubs that embrace the new media enjoy unprecedented opportunities to pass along information, whether that’s important news about a time or location change for an event or simply a word of a great bite that’s taking place on a nearby lake. And those members that are the most up-to-date (electronically) get the messages on their phones—often complete with photos or videos. The same types of websites provide fine opportunities for promoting club activities, accomplishments and objectives to the angling public, along with recognizing members who win tournaments or who do a great job of supporting the club in some way.
One great virtue of these sites to most clubs is that they are free to use. When expenses must be balanced against income, any opportunity to advertise club activities or gain other benefits that comes at no cost other than time warrants serious consideration.
Sites & Uses
The North Oklahoma City Bassmasters are part the growing contingency of bass clubs that make heavy use of Facebook to communicate with one another. A social networking site with more than 500 million active users, more than half of whom will log on any given day, Facebook makes it easy to share status updates, photos, videos and more either with anyone who cares to look or only with other Facebook users who have been accepted as Friends. Every member of the NOC Bassmasters has a unique Facebook page, and all are linked as Friends, which allows them to see one another’s posts.
“We use our individual Facebook pages to post results/pictures and communicate with each other about upcoming events,” said club member Greg Scallin. “By doing this, we can reach more people through our Friends, not just club members.”
Members of this club also make regular use of Facebook’s “message” and “live chat” features to communicate about club issues, plan events and schedule fishing trips, along with using the site to keep up with the fishing industry through regular posts by tackle manufacturers and fishing websites. Scallin pointed toward Lurenet and Zipper Worms examples of companies that keep Facebook pages up-to-date.
The NOC Bassmasters didn’t have a club page on Facebook when this issue went to press, but there was a shared desire among members to get one started, according to Scallin, and he anticipated one being established over the winter. Someone simply needed to take a little time to set up a page. The club does have a website, which they keep updated, but a club presence on Facebook will reach a much broader audience, draw visitors to the club’s website and be much more interactive with all club members and other anglers who want to add input about, say, a lake the club is about to fish.
Twitter, which has grown enormously in popularity over the past couple of years, allows users to post short messages, which can be seen on that user’s dedicated Twitter page, sort of like on Facebook, and which go to all followers. Messages (or Tweets, as they are known) are limited to 140 characters, often with links to things like videos, photos and longer blogs. A club can have its own account, both for public relations purposes and so all members can stay updated, or individual members can use Twitter for quick communication. Because of the character limit, Twitter messages can be shared even with very simple mobile devices.
Ever growing numbers of bass pros, tackle manufacturers, tournament organizations and clubs are building Twitter identities, allowing friends and fans to stay in touch with all they are doing with regular quick Tweets. They often use the Tweets to redirect followers to Facebook posts, club sites or blogs and other web destinations that offer more information they want followers to find.
C.J. Shaver, an Ohio bass pro, uses a variety of social networking sites, including Twitter, both to promote his identity as a bass pro and to help the SS Minnows, a junior bass club in Central Ohio that he helped start nearly a decade ago. The SS Minnows also maintain an active Facebook page, where they post pictures of fish brought to the scales, provide club updates and keep in touch with one another.
Shaver noted that the SS Minnows have always been leaders among junior bass clubs, having been among the first to wear jerseys in competitions and to attain club sponsors, and it appears they are taking a similar leadership role by promoting the club through the new media.
More so than Facebook or Twitter, a blog can provide a unique web identity for a club, with more space for details about tournaments and other events, profiles of members, details about sponsors or whatever else the club opts to post. Blogs can be set up more like traditional websites, with major differences being that they are free from some providers and far easier to self-administer than most websites. Blogs can be set up through a variety of sites, but two of the largest and easiest to use are WordPress and Blogger. Both offer many options in terms of the look of a blog, it’s set-up and its features.
Just Jump In
Something very appealing about social networking and blog template sites is that they are extremely user friendly. Many Facebook users are 100 percent new to that sort of thing when they take their first curious look to try to see something a friend has posted, but the site is so intuitive that pretty much anyone can jump in and do as little or as much as he wants on Facebook. Twitter and the blogging sites are similarly simple. A member with no web-managing skills could easily set up club blog in a matter of minutes, and anyone who had the log-in information could easily add new posts.
Likewise, any member who has spent even a little bit of time playing with features could easily manage a club’s Facebook page, and given the willingness of a handful of club members to add updates and respond to comments or questions, there really isn’t any need for a dedicated person to manage the site.
Blogs, though very easy to set up and manage, do require some upkeep because a blog site that doesn’t get updated can actually work against a club. Where on Facebook, few outsiders would notice if no one posted anything for a while, a blog is a dedicated webpage, so if no one posts anything for several months, it simply looks like the club hasn’t done anything for several months.
Due to virtues already stated—no cost and ease of use—establishing a presence in the new media doesn’t require much planning on a club’s part and it’s pretty much a no-loss proposition. A club can easily establish a Facebook page or Twitter account and encourage members to do likewise, and then figure out what to do with them as members spend time looking at other posts and at applications and seeing what fits the club best. A blog is similar. Although there should be some commitment to post something with some degree of regularity, the type of material posted can change regularly. A blog, by nature, is a log, more like a journal than a clearly defined column, so change is the norm.
But then again, that’s true of all the new media. It’s ever changing, which is part of what keeps it interesting.