I find it interesting that traditional offline golf businesses are just now starting to take an interest in the internet. Over the past year I have seen an increase of golf retail businesses attempting to use Twitter and other forms of social media. However, these late arrivers to the internet are going to find that their setting up shop online could be compared to opening up a store front in a shopping mall the day before the bulldozers arrive.
Yaw, that is a pretty rough analogy on the business environment online, but that seems to be what is taking place on the social and business networking sites like Twitter and Facebook that many golf entrepreneurs and mainstream golf businesses are just now starting to use. If the saturation of blatant advertisements and PR posts on Twitter keep growing there will not be anyone left on Twitter left to read the post than the Marketing and PR firms pour into the channel of millions of Tweets.
Over the past few weeks I have been venturing offline to visit with people I have met online to get a better feel of what is Really going and find out these people’s reasoning for using the internet or not. Over half of the people I talk to, who started to using the internet in the past 3 months to market their golf business or service, told me they came to the internet after “hearing”, “reading”, “being told to” and “had hired a Consultant who advised me” that the internet is where they HAVE to have a presences to survive.
Granted, I can confirm that what they heard, read and have been told is correct, but things are changing here in cyberspace to the worst. For the golf industry, I can also confirm that the market they are looking for (golfers) are not here. OR at least the golfers who are ‘Buying” anything are not here online.
The evaporating online golfer population also was confirmed with the half dozen or so golf business people I have talked to this past year who have been out on the internet longer than I have (five years). There efforts to market to golfers online are not producing any significant level of sales so the are bidding the internet ‘adios’.
OH, there are a lot of people online who say they are golfers or say they are interested in golf, but are they really? Or, are they non-golfers saying they are golfers to build pseudo social relationships in an effort to market to people they feel have deeper pockets than the average consumer? From the statistics I am gathering on this matter from interviews with non-golfers offline, the later seems to be the case.
What happened to Twitter?
As I mentioned, many of the golf business people I visit with who spend the majority of their time (if not all of it) offline are starting to receive professional advise on how to use the internet to market their business. The majority are being told that once they have established a web-site they need to get on Twitter. Unfortunately, the advice they are getting on how to use Twitter is not very good.
In an attempt to answer the business person’s questions related to how to monetize their time on Twitter the internet consultants are insistent they only post on Twitter links to their product page on their web-sites. No conversation..no remarks..no statements, Just a Link. This could be where the problems Twitter is currently having is being generated.
Recently, I attended a local TweetUp. (For the benefit of the many newbies to the internet that follow me here; A TweetUp is a gathering of people who use Twitter) There, I ran into three individuals who were very adamant that the only value they see to using Twitter is that it provides them a venue is to post only links to their products. They see no value what so ever in building a community and then market to the community.
A comment I over heard from someone who refused to provide me his name:)..I am out to make money on Twitter, not friends..I have plenty of friends. I am only interested in getting people on Twitter to go to my site and buy something. So I only reach out to people on Twitter to get them to Follow me so I can post the links to our products to those people..and I hire someone to do the ‘reaching out’ for me.
Unfortunately, it is this attitude that is running golfers off Twitter and the internet. Matter of fact, it is running off a large number of people who are golfers and non-golfers. The fall out of this constant bombardment of hundreds of posts per minute from the same company using hundreds of different Twitter Usernames has finally put a crack in the popularity of Twitter for true social media purposes.
So, are we seeing the Downslide of Twitter?
Probably so. Even though the popularity for Twitter is being reported growing, I would contend that if that is based on the number of usernames in their database than it would be true. But, if the usage over that large number of people who have a username for Twitter was to be analyzed it would be found that many, many Tweeters have abandoned their profiles like they have for MySpace and Facebook. These people’s attempt to use Twitter to find people of similar interest to market to is like trying to get a drink out of a fire hose.
For golfers, there are far more options for them offline to networking socially and professionally. Since that is a benefit of being a golfer, these people do not feel there is really a need to put up with the hassles of Twitter and other sits online. So, those coming to Twitter leave as quickly as they came.
Is the economy bringing more golfers online?
In all indications, there does seem to be more golfers coming online each day. As the economy drives them off the golf course and golf facilities, naturally their free time will be filled with more time online. However, this does not equate to more consumer buying. And it does not mean they will stay online once they get a taste of what places like Twitter, Facebook and the rest have to offer.
What is going to keep golfers only?
In over 90% of the golfers I talk to who predominately spend their time offline tell me they would come online and spend more time online if there were SAFE places to go that they knew for sure was populated by REAL people, and more importantly, Real Golfers. It seems their statements keeping repeating itself in each meeting I have with offliners.
I have heard these people’s message for sometime now and I feel their pain of what they are seeing online at sites like Twitter and Facebook. I too am seeing the absurdities being generated online in an attempt to market to billions. I take their statements of what they don’t like about the internet as being a challenge since I also realize that these same people telling me why they are not coming online are the same people who need to be online..and who anyone in the golf business need for them to be online in order to ride out this failing economy.
This year I will look to do what I can do for the golf world to make this happen. This is the start of a Change, isn’t it? I am up for making a change. Are You?