Hammer expert for hire

Last week I got up extra early one morning to talk alongside Rich Kelly from Interbike; Rich had been asked to present some thoughts about social media to a group of industry leaders at the Bicycle Leadership Conference, and he invited me to join him.

It was, not surprisingly, a fun assignment. As the marketing lead at Interbike, Rich was able to tap into the numbers and stats that their parent company, Nielsen Media.  He made the case for why social media is relevant, and I backed up his macro viewpoints and stats with some get-dirt-under-your-fingernails examples of how to actually use tools like Facebook and Twitter in the context of the bike industry.

Rich provided some really impressive figures that captured the attention of the room, and made them realize that this stuff is actually a big deal: social network sites are more popular than porn sites, 1M to 2M people are on facebook at any one time, and twitter saw 1323% growth last year. He wrapped it up in a tidy package that included how this stuff can affect ROI, and then tossed the mic to me.

The basics of what I said: if a company is authentic, complex, and socially talked about, then there is a good chance that social media tools will be useful in helping to support a business strategy, or achieve a stated goal.  Alternatively, if your company is in serious trouble, social media tools may prove to be a fast and effective way to help get through a scandal or controversy (if you’re willing to be honest about what happened).

After that, I showed some favorite examples from the bike world: Sunflower Bike Shop in Kansas, and Ned Overend’s fan page, on Facebook.  Lance on Twitter.  Even Sockington the cat.  All with the intent of showing why these media tools are effective in these applications, and (hopefully) clarifying that they’re tools, not strategy.

This tools vs strategy point is exactly why you should be careful before trusting any self-proclaimed ‘social media expert’; you don’t hire a hammer expert when you need custom furniture, you hire a carpenter.

Our presentation slides are available here: blc_outline_vfinal

Written by chris in: General Musings |


  • Chris, you are right on the money. The everlasting theory behind social media is a perfect fit for the bike culture. Communication and passion. This perfect combination gives tremendous power in the hands of the cyclist. The industry needs to recognize that if you give the brand to these passionate cyclists they will take it heights never before imaginable.

    However, I will have to add a quick thought. Social media is a great “tool” for marketing, but it is actually changing the way we communicate with our constituents. We, as marketers, are going through a power transition. We can no longer “push” messages to cyclists. Rather we need to put information out there and have individual conversations so the cyclist can “pull” the information needed to integrate the brand into their personal lifestyle.

    Great Presentation, by the way!

    Comment | April 22, 2009
  • Thanks for making the presentation available online. As always, great stuff!

    Comment | May 13, 2009

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