At the Helm: Get social

Way back in 2009, I first started presenting to business owners on the topic of social media. The reaction back then to this new-fangled technology was predictably confused.

I was often asked why companies should spend their time worrying about social media. After all, the user numbers were miniscule: Twitter, for example, had fewer than 10 million users in January 2009 when I first signed up. I pretty much had to go with the “Trust me, this stuff is going to matter” explanation.

The good news is that four years later, I’ve got a lot more to say. To put it simply, you want to be where your clients (and potential buyers) are. These days, the numbers show that is social media sites, with two-thirds of Internet users regularly using them, according to recent research from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

While social media usage is high across almost every category, more significantly, it’s where the segments we need to target are spending their time. The demographic challenges of our industry are well documented: We’re an industry that skews older, male and white in a country that, well, doesn’t.

Of those 30 to 49 years old, 77 percent are regular users of social sites. This is the group that we need to get boating now. If they’re not out enjoying the water today, it’s unlikely they will be in the future. And for those 18 to 29, the next generation of buyers, usage stands at 83 percent. The only age group where less than 50 percent are regular social media visitors is those over 65.

Minority groups are also more likely to use social media: 72 percent of Hispanics do, compared to 68 percent of the black population and 65 percent of whites, according to Pew.

Add in the fact that 72 percent of women – who make the buying decisions in most households – are spending time on social media and it’s pretty much a no-brainer. (Want to see a success story? Check out Discover Boating and it’s half-a-million-and-counting Facebook fans.)

That’s the why – for the how we’ve put together a bevy of resources to help you either get started in social media or improve what you’re already doing. Starting with this month’s cover story, you’ll find our guide to 66 tips, tools, stats and examples of what’s working in social media for companies in the boating industry.

Finally, you can connect with us on social media as well where we’re posting new info every day. We’re @BoatingEditor and @BoatingIndustry on Twitter, on Facebook at or join our LinkedIn group at


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