I'm going a little off topic here. Social media isn't an activity or topic often covered in an outdoor column, but it's relevant.
Many sportsmen are connected through social platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. There is immeasurable value in the ability to share information.
Participating in social media is simple. In fact, it's as easy as logging on to YouTube and watching a video. If you are heading on a trip, say fishing Patoka Lake, you can search for a video on your destination and chances are a video will be available to watch that will in some fashion inform you about your destination.
A search for Patoka Lake actually turned up 236 YouTube results. That is a lot of immediate information. You can comment on the videos and communicate with the person who posted the video and the others who commented on it. If someone else watches it, they can comment on your comment. It's a virtual social gathering space where you can communicate with folks who have information you are interested in.
Facebook is the most powerful social platform for connecting people. Realtree's Facebook page has 1,082,615 "likes." This is Realtree's primary social media platform for communicating with consumers. Of course, they have their videos and television shows, but with those you are just a viewer. Facebook and other social media sites matter to Realtree because they are platforms on which you are a participant. You can communicate with the company and let them know what matters to you.
Visit Realtree's web site (www.realtree.com) and you'll find a smorgasbord of outdoor content. There are articles, videos, blogs and information galore. Realtree gives all of this away to you and I because their goal is to build fans. Fans are loyal. Realtree understands when a fan enters an outdoor retailer looking for camouflage, they'll walkout with Realtree. They announce this content, and share most of it, through social media.
Twitter isn't a platform I take part in, but hundreds of millions of people do. It gives real-time perspectives from people. So if you are watching the Super Bowl, people are tweeting their opinions on the game and commercials. I don't really care about their opinions, so I don't participate. I enjoy Facebook and YouTube because I use them to gather information as an observer and as a participant.
Having your own social-media presence is a window into the world of what is going on around you. You must reach out to people to grow your network, and give others a reason to join you. Share information about the local fishing hole, or comment about the rut kicking in when you see that first buck chasing.
There's no Field of Dreams thing going on here. You're going to have to do more than build it to make them come. You first need to define the purpose of your platform, and then establish your goals. Once you know who you want to reach and how you hope to connect with them, you have to develop a strategy for growing or maintaining the size of your platform. Some people only want to connect with those closest to them, while others want to include a multitude of folks on their pages.
Realtree gives away information and entertainment to build loyalty. You must decide what will attract people to your platform, and then commit to implementing and maintaining your strategy.
You can join me and follow Driftwood Outdoors on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DriftwoodOutdoorsMagazine.
See you down the trail ...
Brandon Butler is an outdoors columnist for the News Tribune. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.