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New Media & The Gun Industry

I listened in on the social media session offered by NSSF for gun & hunting industry folks.  It was a combination of “THIS!”* and facepalm**. (I’m adding a glossary at the end for those in the industry who find this and need it. Believe me, after what I heard, some really need it.)

It was really amusing to hear Steve Hall of AdRants mentioned since he and I never did meet up for a beer like we talked about when I was living in Massachusetts. Considering my first AdRants link was about a bikini line razor, it can be edgy territory that would honestly scare a lot of the people involved in this industry. (BTW, I’m still on their accolades section. Even though I don’t follow AdRants nearly as often anymore, it’s still a very informative & entertaining site if you’re into the topic. Although I did just start following Steve on Twitter.)

But beyond my own favorite blog shoutouts***, it was an interesting session. I was fearful at first. There are many people who claim to know it all when it comes to new media. If they claim it, they are full of shit. The best people admit that they definitely don’t know it all, but they have some good ideas to get things started. The beauty of the internet is that you can scrap a plan and try again if it doesn’t quite work.

There were a few wake-up moments for me though. For example, in the Q&A session, the first question asked if embedding a YouTube video on a website was copyright infringement. Someone else who got up to speak in the session following the new media speech didn’t seem to know that MySpace^ and blogs^^ are totally different beasts. But then one person (who I believe was Paul Helinski of GunsAmerica.com based on his voice & his comments, but I’m not sure on that) got up and said every time he approached anyone in the industry, he encountered fear of new media. That’s so true, and something that came up briefly in our chat at the 2008 Second Amendment Blog Bash.

I’ve been live-tweeting the Summit, and something that got immediate feedback on Twitter from a gun owner/hunter/outdoor writer was when I reported that the speaker asked the industry crowd how many had heard of the “Will it Blend?” videos, it seemed that no one raised their hands given his response. (I couldn’t see the whole room, so I can’t verify that no one raised their hand, but he seemed taken aback by the response and had to explain it.) My response was this:

Most of the people in the room haven’t heard of “Will It Blend?” Heads will explode if they saw this video: http://ow.ly/aQ3n #20/20

And speaking of what I said, I had to create that hashtag for the event myself. They are promoting it via Twitter, yet there’s no hashtag to use in reference to it. I kept asking the @NSSFComm account, but I never got a response, so I just did it for them.

I think the biggest problem based on the comments I’m hearing during the webcast sessions is that people are taking notes on tools, but not laying out any strategies. Twitter won’t help you grow your sales. But a good strategy that utilizes Twitter can help you with brand recognition and loyalty. Of course, there’s been no mention on how they would actually track any of that. The new media speaker did warn against using tools just for the sake of using them. (The classic issue of don’t pick up a hammer and then seek out something to do with it specifically. Find the tool that solves your specific problem.) I’m just not confident that the message is sinking in.

Overall, this just reminded me that we have a very long way to go in this movement. Part of that is related to demographic challenges, but some of it is tied into regulations and/or industry structure. Unfortunately, when VERY competent professionals have tried to help out, they are often turned away. I just heard a story about one major company that made a big mistake on this front. It really baffles me.

*THIS! is a Fark cliche.  For those who don’t know, Fark is like a snarky Drudge Report where inappropriate jokes are the norm.  There’s little value for gun companies there.
**facepalm is an internet saying that represents exactly what it implies. Imagine hearing something that’s beyond cringe-worthy, it makes you want to slap your palm up to your forehead.
***Shoutouts are mentions of some kind. They could be online with a bit of link love or in real life in a presentation like this. Even if links are the most valuable when it comes to traffic, a shoutout that doesn’t involve a link is at least recognition. Kind of like how your employees could probably use a bonus for good work more than a plaque, but no one will turn down a plaque because it’s still a sign of appreciation.
^MySpace is a social networking site. It was once the largest, but it’s been seeing very slight declines thanks to the rise of Facebook. There’s more to this discussion that you’ll have to pay me to help you understand.
^^If you don’t know what a blog is, ask your employees. Any of them who are stationed at a computer all day are likely reading them. Don’t bitch at them when you find out, chances are they are getting feedback that’s creating more value than what that 20 minutes of their time cost you.

4 Responses to “New Media & The Gun Industry”

  1. Steve says:

    I try and get information about new guns for coverage on my blog. The majority don’t bother responding. One even told me that because I am not a journalist, they won’t let me access their press releases!

    It is hard to believe that they do not want free marketing!

  2. Steve says:

    I forgot to say that I enjoyed this post. An interesting insight into the industry.

  3. andy says:

    I agree with this article being good! A few days ago I submitted your AK 47 Intellectual property article to a great site I’ve read for years. techdirt.com. Both of these articles would play very well there and I encourage you to visit.

  4. andy says:

    oops not your AK article, but I still think this would play well.

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