Is The Industry Finally Getting On The Free PR Train

Social Networking & Growing The Sport Of Paintball

(Originally Posted on PBGossip.com)

Strangely I think that it finally has happened, maybe it took the recession and the terrible hit to the paintball industry to get some of the largest companies in the sport to have a OMG type of realization and decide that they should be promoting themselves and the sport on the many available social networking sites that have some of the largest audiences on the internet. Let the year of 2009 not only be a low point in the history of the sport but hopefully the start of a new age of how paintball is promoted.

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While I will commend some companies like Planet Eclipse who have had committed a large amount of their time and resources to creating some of the best exposure in the sport so far on their Planet Eclipse ETV YouTube Channel or even displaying their newest products on Flickr. I also want to send a message of warning to many companies who will jump into things without having the correct knowledge or understanding on how this type of technology will help you grow your brand, increase consumer relations or just help you understand who your main demographic of customer support is.

Having operated ThisISPaintball.ca for a few years now and taking the initiative to ensure the proper operation of Facebook Fan Pages for companies like Planet Eclipse, Virtue Paintball, Smart Parts, Exalt Paintball, major paintball leagues like Paintball Sports Promotions and the Millennium Series and of course any team that I have played in what you could loosely call my paintball career combined with working for tech organizations and even the UN  you learn a few tricks along the way.

If you do decide do use Web 2.0 profiles please follow some of these suggestions to ensure that you are not creating more harm than good. Make the profiles consistent across all platforms so it is easily noticed that they are officially representing your brand. Don’t use a RSS of content that is available other places online it comes off as slightly lazy and does not allow for additional interaction to those who are members of that network. Allow interactive and creative ways to interact with your audience, creating contests are one way to help increase exposure and can range from prizes of stickers or t-shirts to going all out and using some of the companies air miles to fly the winner to attend one of the major events of the season. No matter how large or small of a prize you offer it will be greatly appreciated by whoever receives it.

The bottom line is that if we are to keep the sport alive and hopefully make it back to where things used to be a few years ago we need to bring in some new people to the support and to also help retain those who are still currently playing. While many PR campaigns use traditional methods of print media and advertising at paintball fields the biggest problem with using that route is you are preaching to the converted. Which is still not a bad thing but with seeing that Facebook alone currently has more than 250 million active users worldwide that would seem like a good place to try and grow the sport.

Examples of Paintball Companies Using Social Networking

JT Sports is yet another company who has been using social networking to interact and even give back to the players in the sport. They recently held a contest where anyone following JT Sports on Twitter could Win A Custom JT Flex Mask.  All by doing what you might ask? By just sharing some information on their 40 years of being around as a company. The cost of providing one of your products to the market place for free can easily be well worth more than the amount you would have made in the retail sale of that one item.

Dave and all those smart folks over at Dye Precision Inc recently hopped onto social networking with great force that only a company of their size can do. They have pro players contributing on many of the networks and will be announcing the winner of a Ollie Lang Ironmen DM9 contest that they ran which is one sure way to kick off stepping into using Web 2.0 as a marketing tool.

While there are many more examples that could be thrown out there aside from the companies above there also is a great amount of exposure that you can do for sponsors of your team. Some great examples would be Dynasty, XSV or Explicit all which are providing content on the major networking platforms. The key to the best interaction goes way beyond keeping fans up to date but tearing down the barriers which are in other sports. Paintball seems to be one of the few sports that those at the professional level interact with anyone and everyone at the events, so why not also extend that to the online platforms to showcase your sponsors and share the sport with others.

The list of paintball related profiles, channels and pages on Facebook, YouTube, Myspace and Twitter is always growing so don’t be the last to realize that this is one of the biggest and best ways to promote the sport of paintball. If your a company or team that is looking for help with using Web 2.0 to improve the knowledge of your paintball brand get in touch with Adam (adam@pbgossip.com) with any questions or if you need help setting yourself up properly on these networks.

Editors Note: Adam Actually Won The JT Sports Twitter Contest And Proudly Owns The Custom JT Flex

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