I’m not going to SHOT, but I’m going to cover it anyway. How, you ask? Easy, I’m going to focus on new media opportunities taken and missed by SHOT organizers, SHOT participants, and the firearms/hunting community as a whole.
There are a few “facepalm” examples, and some signs of real innovation from the community and industry leaders in terms of new media presence. I’ll cover them both and spare no feelings in the process.
First up: Ruger
We already know about Ruger’s likely new product announcement since it broke on blogs before anywhere else. I’ll be curious to see how, if at all, this changes their launch. I doubt it changes a damn thing since most of the industry guys are too busy preparing to have much time to do change up their plans. In fact, I questioned whether it would even be noticed that the blogosphere already posted pictures since it happened the Sunday before the show. I suspect at least Ruger knows since the original picture was linked to on their servers, whether the rest of the outdoor media noticed is anyone’s guess.
Interestingly, Ruger is offering up videos from the show floor this year. So far, the first video merely explains what they will be doing with far too much head bopping. Hopefully there will be far less head bopping on the floor, it’s distracting. (I’m serious, no more head bopping!)
Overall, I’d say it’s an interesting change. It means they can link and email these in-house videos to their customers without having to hope for coverage from other outlets online. However, they are missing out on one of the biggest advantages of new media – the potential for viral videos. No, I don’t expect their SHOT coverage to make it to the video page of Fark anytime soon, but forums, blogs, and Facebook users can’t share or embed their videos. If there’s something I really like, there’s no URL for me to embed it here or share it on my Facebook account. What’s the point in that?
It’s good to see a major industry player get in on daily updates via online video or other formats, but it’s distressing to see that they choose to do it so their customers and fans can’t share their excitement with their other gun owning friends. And with the excitement over the Ruger scoop, I think that’s a big missed opportunity.
Speaking of Facebook, let’s see what Ruger has done to excite their customer base about their new offerings at SHOT…
- Ruger Fan Page? Nothing. (425 fans missed.)
- Ruger Group that had to be created by a high school kid from Wisconsin? Nothing, but Ruger should be alerted that there are some customer care concerns that probably should be addressed posted on the Wall. (33 members missed.)
- Ruger Rifles Group that was created by a guy in Iowa? Nothing. (231 members missed.)
- Ruger Revolvers Owners Group created by a guy in Michigan? Not a peep. (210 members missed.)
- Ruger Single Action Revolver Shooters Group created by a high school student? Not a word to promote themselves and encourage users to check out some of their other offerings. (28 members missed.)
- Ruger 10/22 Lovers Group created by a kid in Missouri? Nope. (435 members missed.)
- Rugers are Sexy Group created by someone in Kansas? Not a single word. (112 members missed.)
My point in noting who created these groups is the emphasize that these are real gun owners. These are the users who care enough about the product to organize other users and advertise for the company on their profile. There are 1,474 users out there who could get the message through this free and easy marketing attempt. (Granted, doing social network marketing is about a conversation, so I would suggest that a company’s new media PR person sign up and join these groups to not only let customers know about new offers, but to also participate to some degree. Assuming some crossover between the groups, Facebook groups dedicated to Ruger’s product would have hit about 1,100 potential customers at zero cost and with little time commitment.) In fact, the beauty of so many different groups is that your marketing audience self-segregates for you. Now you know exactly who to pitch the new revolver to as opposed to the guys who might like the new non-PC rifle.
This post isn’t meant to pick on Ruger. I’m going to look at many other companies and I can promise you that I will find even more missed opportunities. Overall, I’d say Ruger has a positive for doing video from the floor, but needs work to really harness the advertising power of their fans.