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