Friday, February 12, 2010

Unless you're Best Buy, social media is really just socializing...

Note: So this post is about somewhat about "social media" and blogging, but not really about my blogging, so I think it's just on the good side of that line I drew.

Yesterday, I felt famous. I got an email from Fat Cyclist.

This means in just the past few weeks, I've corresponded with two of my favorite bicycle/lifestyle writers; fatty and bikesnobnyc. Since I started the blog, I've also had twitter conversations with professional triathletes Matty Reed (@boomboomreed) and Mirinda Carfrae (@miridacarfrae).

I follow Reed and Carfrae (and a bunch of other professional and amateur triathletes) because their workload shows me I could always be doing more than I am, and so I definitely shouldn't be looking at another hour on the bike or in the pool as some kind of hassle. I get motivation and insight from reading about their training, and I use the opportunity provided by their taking part in the social networking experience to ask questions about training, racing, or anything else related to the sport I want to learn more about.

Triathletes have generally gotten a bad reputation regarding their personal interaction skills. Triathlon is a very solo sport, even when you're part of a team. You have to be able to internalize a lot when you spend 3 straight hours on a bike. And you have to take your training seriously if you're going to participate in a sporting event that when done properly and quickly still takes many hours to complete.

To me this adds even more value to the presence of top level triathletes in the social networking sphere. It shows the personality of these folks in ways that a short biopic during the Kona broadcast ever could. Seeing the fun that they have with our sport will hopefully encourage budding triathletes to reject the image of the triathlete as a lone wolf jerk. (aka join a tri club, ffs.)

"Fatty" and the snob I read because they flat out LOVE something that I love: cycling. Though they now both get some financial benefit from their blogs (Fatty gets some free stuff and helps cancer research; the snob now has a column in Bicycling magazine), they started writing because they love riding bikes, and they wanted to share that love with others. Even if the snob does it in nearly the snarkiest way anyone could possibly think of.

There are a lot of folks who put all the emphasis of "social media" on the monetization aspect. While that's important if you're a company, and maybe even if you're an athlete looking for ways to improve marketability; it's not where the real value comes from. The connections we all make, the conversations we generate grow both our knowledge and our sports. The fact that it grows businesses is a secondary benefit to anyone involved in a sport.

For companies; Twitter, Facebook, et al. are just parts of marketing strategies that will be replaced when the next big thing comes along. But for athletes and fans, these new ways of meeting and sharing will have a longer, far more lasting and important value than selling a few more bike frames.


  1. Isn't it great when you get a reply back from someone that you've reached out too? I've talked to Ted King, TVandergardner and a few other cyclist thanks to twitter. Good luck w/ the training.

    My latest blog was about my fight with the temptation from a box of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. I haven't ready to far back on your blog yet but I've enjoyed it so far!

  2. Derek - It's really interesting interacting with the folks you admire from an athletic standpoint. Reading their daily thoughts and getting an insight into their approach to the sports can be a learning experience. Plus most seem to be such genuinely nice people.