Thursday, July 10, 2014

Social media

The tools of the trade are evolving


I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time not stopping
on the side of the road to take pictures of this awesome
place we live.
Sharing these photos and other snippets has become
interwoven into the fabric of modern culture
and I think we should embrace that fact.
Compared to most folk writing about the outdoors, I probably spend a disproportionate amount of time considering technology in a social sense. That is to say, I’m a big fan of not only using social media, but of the industry in general. If you think about it, the whole thing evolves in a rather biological fashion - birth, growth, fight or flight in a competitive market, IPO phase, and eventual death (in relevance at least).

Ok so maybe dragonflies don’t experience an initial public offering, but you get my drift.

I’m bringing it up because the woodsman has always used technology, and I don’t see how the web is any different. The use of a compass, a brush axe, or even rubber boots are examples of technology designed to work for us. Utilizing online databases to access lake information or locate new and used boat trailers - that’s the internet as a tool.

And yet I still get this sense somehow that outdoors enthusiasts are behind the times when it comes to utilizing social networks online. Is it because disclosing a certain location in a photo or GPS marked update might lead others to your secret fishing or hunting spot? Or is it because there’s a lack of interest or proficiency with the tools? And truly, why should you or I care?

I’m going to say this once - it’s time to get over this mantra of hardened and unplugged.

I’ll be the first guy to tell you getting away and untethered to the web and today’s advanced technologies is a major factor in the enjoyment I take in the outdoors. That said, though, I am inspired by thoughts and see a lot of things outside that I simply think would be of interest to other people, and sharing those snippets online can be a great way to network with other people in the same vein.

Furthermore, there has been a growing discussion about how to maintain and grow outdoors traditions in hunting, fishing, even trapping in the state of Wisconsin in recent years. The main concern is dipping numbers of involvement of youth in today’s outdoor programs, and I think better engagement in the social media realm is the proverbial missing link.

Look at it this way: Millennials are the most interconnected, social, sharing generation currently breathing. We are engaged constantly in exchanging information with our friends, family, and extended networks (friends of our friends) and are more likely than any generation before us to rely upon each other for information than any other source.

Yes there is research to suggest all that, but I’m speaking first hand...

Given that, doesn’t it make sense for us to share our local way of life, which is very often engrossed in elements of nature, directly with the next generation of workers, entrepreneurs, thinkers, doers, and outdoors people? Doesn’t it make sense to utilize and display what we have going for us to attract other like-minded people to not only our area, but our way of life?

I realize that up to this point the whole concept is a little vague, so let me get more concrete.

What I’m saying is that the woodsman needs to evolve. A change in attitude is going to be required for us to expand our traditions and way of life, and if we choose ignorance towards the way things are trending lets be prepared to stagnate.

Local chapters of sportsmen's clubs, conservation groups, and other organizations hosting educational opportunities, field days, or even simple get togethers should all be public groups on Facebook. Groups that have geographical locations really need to set up Google accounts so they show up better in searches. Groups trying to attract employees or workers in general need to have a professional LinkedIn page. Groups and organizations who really want to engage high school youth should recognize they'll have to have a strong presence on Twitter. High school is over Facebook.

Organizations should also search for groups such as their own online to see what the most successful groups do, research, even contact those other groups to discuss success and failure and gauge how best to increase interest in their own cause. Remember that it’s not just about increasing interest, but offering to people what they want.

You can’t force feed involvement.

Read that sentence again, because it’s the most important snippet to take from this. The truth is, if you want people to be involved in something, you need to identify what it is they will gain from the experience, and the best way to make that appealing is by researching what it is they want and then identifying how your group can provide that.

Bringing the outdoors online is already happening, but the people doing it usually need to be better versed online. Think of it like learning a new sport and a new tool at the same time. This is bowfishing and a very complicated GPS, nothing more.

See you out there,
A woodsman in training.

2 comments:

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