Hereeee Fishy Fishyy

I thought I found the one industry that has yet to be disrupted by social media and digital business: Fishing.

I grew up on Cape Cod as a fisherman’s daughter. My dad is a commercial fisherman and a charter captain. As a charter captain individuals hire him to take them fishing for various species including bass, bluefish, sea bass, fluke, shark, and tuna. His boat name is the EmmaJack, and his charter business is called EmmaJack Charters (yes, I have a brother named Jack). In the fall he transitions into fishing commercially and selling Bluefin tuna. If you have seen Wicked Tuna it is a lot like that, minus the reality TV.

My dad is very much a salty old fisherman who has virtually no capabilities when it comes to the Internet or social media. My dad is one of those people who calls Facebook “The Facebook” and could not define Snapchat to save his life. Based on my knowledge of the fishing business and the fishermen themselves, I assumed it would be the last remaining industry to stave off the digital world.

I think I may be wrong.

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Bluefin Tuna Caught by Capt. Mike Harney FV EmmaJack

Tourism and Charter Fishing 

Charter fishing anywhere is part of the tourism industry. My dad takes people fishing who are vacationing on Cape Cod from all over the world. People find EmmaJack Charters, through a series of channels including word of mouth, local fliers, and advertisements, as well as the Internet. Customers who search Google for phrases including “Charter Fishing Cape Cod” will find my dad’s (old school) website in the organic search. They are also likely to happen across his Facebook page through a friend who likes his page or an engine such as Google.

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EmmaJack Charters Website

Social media plays an important role in Charter Fishing beyond simply linking customers to my dad. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are all ways for my dad’s customers to share and document their experience. EmmaJack Charters currently has a Facebook page to which my family pays little to no attention. Even with the lack of push from the business side, customers continuously engage with this page. They post pictures, share comments, and participate in a conversation with other customers about their experience. Other larger charter businesses in the same area are effectively posting, commenting, and engaging with their customer base. This activity allows them to maintain strong relationships with customers long after their trip, as well as drives new traffic to the business.

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Facebook Posts for EmmaJack Charters

Recommendations for EmmaJack Charters

In order to successfully harness the power of social media, EmmaJack charters needs to effectively curate our existing Facebook page and consider expanding into Instagram. Content sharing is huge in the tourism element of the fishing industry, and it is incredibly beneficial for charter companies to facilitate this.

Several specific next steps that EmmaJack Charters should take include:

  • post images of fish caught
  • share posts about my dad, his mate, and the boat
  • update customers on tournaments my dad is in and number of charters completed
  • invite friends and clients to post pictures of their trip and tag the page
  • create an Instagram page for EmmaJack charters to post and re-post from customers
  • inform friends about how the fishing is for particular species

Fishing Enthusiast Networks

We have all heard the joke about how fisherman love to tell their –at times less than true- fishing stories. I have grown up in an environment where fishing stories were more than just an occasional pastime, but instead a way of life. After being on the water all day when my dad gets home he immediately calls his friends to catch up. They exchange everything from funny stories to crucial information about where the fish were, where they are going, and what they are eating.

Because these trade secrets are often shared privately among friends, I expected there to be no market for forums of fishing fanatics. Again, I was wrong. After researching, I found countless examples including Fishidy, who’s slogan is “It’s Time to Fish Smarter.” This website is a place for fisherman to share technical advice, build a social network, and use technology to increase your success. Other sites such as My Trophy Room, offer an opportunity to share your epic fishing story with people who are also passionate about the subject. Whereas some fisherman may cling to the “I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you” mentality, others are clearly eager to exchange information on these online forums.

Tournament Promotion

An additional component to the fishing industries includes fishing tournaments. These include the big time professional tournaments that pay winners incredible amounts for the biggest fish. An example of this was the recently ended, famous Shark Tournament out of Martha’s Vineyard. Other types of tournaments are geared towards raising money and awareness for charities.

Just when you thought you were going to get to read a post from me that was not about social enterprise or Corporate Social Responsibility…

A charity tournament that I have spent a significant amount of time with is the Annual Big Three Fishing Tournament that benefits Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Cape and Islands. This tournament effectively uses social media as well as their online website to both generate excitement about the event and increase registration. Not only is this generating business for the fisherman as well as event sponsors, but it is also generating funding and awareness for the cause at hand.

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Facebook Posts for the Big 3 Fishing Tournament

Maybe the fishing industry can also utilize social media and digital business to create impact in the world.

Conclusion

There is incredible, unexpected promise for the fishing industry as social media and digital business interrupt it. Where the industry change has potential, there are also going to be instances of individuals getting left behind. I have made specific suggestions for my dad’s charter company to embrace our fans online. If he does this, it will only increase his popularity. For those even saltier and more stubborn than my dad, this transition may be difficult.

8 comments

  1. I enjoyed reading your post, a real-life narrative on the intersection of SM and charter fishing. Really good photos and videos, to grab attention. Your suggestions seem sensible, especially the Instagram idea. Since college students use Instagram more than Facebook, it would expand the demographic reach.

    Some ideas that also came up, while I was reading:
    -track revenue from SM, which might convince your businessman/fisherman to invest more: survey every customer with the question: where did you hear about us?
    -Create a financial report at the end of the year to see the revenue from new customers, based upon origination source.
    -offer a $20 discount, if the customer posts a review and photo on Facebook or Instagram
    -ask charter customers which SM platforms they use the most

    1. emmaharney21 · ·

      Thanks for a comment! These are fantastic suggestions. I am thinking about doing a follow up post creating an actual strategy for the company and I will definitely keep these in mind!

  2. Great post (and title). The basic idea that this post really shows me that is that literally any industry that has the ability to have a sort of network has the ability to be seen through social media. Given that most, if not all, industries lead to larger networks, it seems that social media has the potential to be used anywhere. Being someone far away from fishing, I had no idea there were apps that allowed fishing to become a competitive atmosphere, but clearly they work because people like ranking themselves against others. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I really enjoyed reading your post. The past few summers I have taken a half day charter on the Striper out of Harwich Port and gone out for bass and blues. It has turned into an annual fishing trip with my friends, and it is always a good time. Last year the mate told us that they had started using social media as a tool to promote business. When we were reeling in a few fish at the same time he would pull out his phone to film us. It promoted the business and showed that we were having fun. The mate also said that it shows potential customers that their boat was catching fish that particular day. The captain also asked one of us to give a good review on the Facebook page if we had a good time.

    1. emmaharney21 · ·

      Thanks for the comment! My dad knows The Striper captain, as well as many other guys in Saquatucket! They are a similar sized charter company so this is a great comparison. I am thinking of doing a strategy plan for a follow up post and I am definitely going to consider this as a great model. My brother is my dad’s mate so I may have to convince him to get involved and share things similar to your experience. Thanks again!

  4. mashamydear · ·

    What a neat post! I’ll admit, I know very little about fishing (I tried it once as a kid and felt too bad for the fish) but I do agree that there’s a space for the industry in the social media world. Fish are funny looking things, and those weird catches (like the first picture in your post) would bring in tons of likes on Instagram and Facebook. The fishing industry doesn’t have to make itself “cool,” but rather it’s already pretty neat and it just needs to show people that. I also do think it’s a pathway for growth in regards to your dad’s company. Although word of mouth is still the most important metric when it comes to purchase decisions, platforms like Yelp have made word of mouth more global for businesses of all sizes. Social media seems like a great move for the fishing industry and your dad’s company in particular as it has the potential to get the whole fishing community involved!

  5. Great post! It’s always nice to see a blog post a person is really close to and your suggestions part hits the nail right on the head. Will you be telling your dad to implement these changes to The Facebook in the future? I think one important thing that will indirectly improve from your suggestions is search engine optimization, otherwise known as SEO. If the fishing charter industry is a very Google centric industry (as in people don’t know a brand so they Google for one) then your dad should try optimizing his page, optimizing Google Ads, and customizing his page to get the most customers. Certain keywords and emphasizing certain aspects of his website are crucial to rising the rankings of organic search. Being on the front page is essential, as very few people go onto the second page of Google these days.

    1. emmaharney21 · ·

      Thanks for the comment! I am definitely going to pass along these suggestions to my dad and may even do a follow up blog post with a specific action plan. Thanks for reading!

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