So where dose Golf fit in the world of Social Media? Will encouraging more golfers to come online help Golf survive? Where would the golfers who are newbie to this viscous jungle called the Internet enter and not get discouraged?
I have been asked these questions frequently. Some I have answers and others I am still looking for greater understanding. One thing is certain, in order for Golf to find its way through this uncertain economy more people will need to learn to play golf and more golfers will have to come online.
These two different solutions seem to be contradictory to each other because a golfer cannot possibly learn all of the aspects to playing golf online, but once the golfer learns offline how to play golf they more than likely are going to need to go online to full fill the rest of their interests in playing golf. I am certain the offline golf industry stands ready to help people learn golf, but is the internet ready for golfers?
Right now, No, it is not. But with the advent of effective methods of using social media in Golf there is starting to be a better understanding of the internet by more golf professionals. It should not be long before golfers will feel comfortable being online.
Lets take a look at what is causing the problems the internet is having with deflecting golfers from feeling comfortable online and how things are changing.
Professional Tour Golfers
The Professional Tour Players are starting to come online..well, we hope they are the real person and not a hired gun PR person. Anyway, it is a good sign to see the real golfers taking a higher visible stance online where the rest of us real golfers can reach out to them and keep in touch.
What is even better is these top players of the professional golf tour world are reaching out and touching back..yes, they are talking to you and me. Twitter seems to be the baseline for a few of them but a few smarter ones are looking for productive digs to talk to their fans. More on where those places are later.
For years now most top professional golfers have their own web-sites they would post a blog or two a month..or at least we hope it is them writing their own blogs and not some PR person hired to be them. (Humm, is there a theme of deception starting here?)
Now these more outgoing professional golfers are moving into entering groups and using social networks that allow them to speak to their fans in complete sentences. That is a very good sign..it means they are figuring out how the internet works. All this is good for Golf. Lets hope more of these valuable assets of the Golf Industry continue to use places like Facebook to keep in touch with their customers..the golfing population.
Everyone who has swung a golf club more than twice has a story to tell. Even if that story is just comparing their first swing with the second time they swung the golf club it still is a story. People who play golf are a smart bunch and really have more to offer than just golf. However, this source of Golfers get very discussed with the Internet and leave…sometimes forever.
Many of the golf bloggers enter the internet from advise from others that blogging is way to making a bucket full of money. So they enter wide-eyed into the internet to start blogging fueled with advice they paid $1500 to get from some internet marketing expert who’s claim to fame is he knows how to spell ‘Scoble’ and spout out terms like ‘monetization of your time on Twitter’.
These golfers new to the world of social media then go out on Blogger and start up a blog..FAIL. They take an entire hour to write their stories about their love for golf and post it expecting to get a few thousand hits within a minute from the time they post their blog in the morning and by the afternoon be offered a dozen $4000 a month advertising ads to place on their site.
For those who survive more than a day from that valuable advice eventually find none of that expensive advice was true. It may work for Tech and Widget/gadget sites, but for golf..’it aint gonna happen’. So, they feel they were scammed and either leave the internet in discuss with a new mission to now publically bash anyone who uses the internet as a scammer or a fool.
Sometimes they are fortunate to find someone like me who has made it their mission to help people like them avoid the potholes of the information highway. But I am not here to talk about me..I am here to tell you where golf fits out here.
Hopefully, effective social media will help make a change because Golf needs bloggers. Golf blogging is an excellent social media tool. A good golf blog mixed with personal and professional articles paints the best picture of the person who is blogging. Just reporting the Blah-Blah of the golf swing and promoting a book is not going to provide anyone a picture of the person who is talking. What the golf consumers who come online are looking for are Real people…people they can trust. Can a golf blogger who just promotes a product or book be trusted to be telling them something worthwhile?
Golfers are demanding more on who the person really is, what they think, what knowledge they have on a subject. This builds up the following of people who come back to learn more…humm, that sounds like trust doesn’t it? If trustworthiness is lacking then the blog is nothing but a commercial..and there are too many commercials out here for golfers to check out.
If you have been out here more than five years then you know about the claims from the mega social networking sites that they have trillions of members…well, 100’s millions at least. They might as well say they have trillions because they just don’t have as many REAL people who are members of their sites as they want to admit. Saying you have a million sounds better than a few hundred and since it can’t be verified, why not say a trillion? See how the number games out here are played?….geez What has this got to do with golf?
Well, there are many who claim of millions of golfers online. Really? Then where are they? Back in the hay day of golf groups there were more than 50 different golf social groups that I could find and out of all of them I could not account for more than approximately 200 thousand members…not all of which I would make claim to are real golfers. I am sure there were probably a few more golf groups I missed during my three year long study but I am sure their stats would not prove the claims of millions of real golfers being online.
Many of those groups have died out or are left stagnant. Others that are still around are shown active, but is the activity in the forums they from Real Golfers? Hopefully, but from reading the thousand of discussion in a few dozen golf groups that all start out with..’Hey, check this out’..and then be lead to a MLM for an energy drink for golfers…I seriously doubt it.
Remember that trust factor that bloggers need to build? Golf groups have have that same issue. Taking for granted the golf groups online are filled to the brim with Real Golfer is a mistake.
The question now becomes..
’How many of those estimated 200,000 golfers are still online, active and using the internet more than trying to find a date?
Golf groups play a part in social media especially for businesses who have a product or service to market to the group. Unfortunately, when the businesses find there are not that many real golfers online they pullback and start using old traditional ways of marketing that fail.
Still, if more control is given to the group’s environment to make the group safe from the people online out to muddy the water or market something other than golf, then the social media for golf would strengthen. Unfortunately, most of the golf groups still alive today are not willing to cull out anyone since they are playing the number games with advertisers. Fortunately, the advertisers are starting to not be interested in playing the number game anymore and are looking for places that have Real People to market to and not to an unverifiable number of members. Still, golf groups, if organized correctly, hold the future to golf’s survive, online and offline.
Golf Social Media
The bottomline for all of this is there just is not enough real golfers online today to make the traditional social media methods used by other industry work. A different approach has to be made for the golf industry.
Also, there are a very large number of internet marketing people online who are very dominate and have figured out to get out of their overly saturated market of the tech, affiliate sales and gadget industry that dominates the internet they have to look to new markets. Golfers are their ‘New Meat’ of the internet for these people who feed off promoting people, places and things.
To lure in golfers and the golf industry these non-golfing, or non-golfers, marketers place Golf as keywords in their business profiles knowing that the search engines of the world are going to pick up someone’s search and display them as a golfer. Another game played out her in La-La-Land.
All of this makes using traditional social media tactics for golf ineffective. In order for social media to work for the golf industry more golfers need to be encouraged to come online. To do this more golf sites, golf bloggers and golf groups are going to have to develop more trust, integrity and honesty. All of these virtues are part of the game of golf so why is it not part of how businesses and golfers promote themselves online?
The true core of social media has to do with being personable. As more of the ambassadors of the game of golf, the PGA and LPGA members, come online a start to making golf more personable online instead of a commercial will begin. In order for Golf to become more vibrant online more real golfers have to come online and in order to draw them online more safe places for social networking have to be offered golfers who come online.
My company’s ( IBGS ) mission is the find ways for golf to survive this economy intact. One of the many ways I am doing this is developing a viable community for golfers to join together, network and soon enter into educational opportunities that teach golfers how to use the internet to meet their needs. You can find out more at the Business Golf Country Club site by signing up for the Newsletter.
For everyone who is out here for the Golf; to do business for golf; or to market to the golfers of the world, social media is a must. Learn how to use it correctly, find a community to belong to and keep in mind you need to show people who you are before telling them what you do for a living is what will help golf survive. Sounds simple doesn’t it?
Let me know how I can help