When Grow Boating president Carl Blackwell predicted in February that the industry’s Discover Boating campaign could get 500,000 fans on Facebook this year, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in the room who was thinking “that’s a reach.” Oh, me of little faith.
Wednesday afternoon, the good news came in from Facebook that the half-million mark had been hit. This is really an amazing result. Moreover, we must realize each of these Facebook friends has their own Facebook friends. It is, therefore, theoretically possible that a Discover Boating message could reach “friends of friends” totaling more than 92 million people. That number notwithstanding, Blackwell was dead on when he said: “The Facebook numbers that could see any Discover Boating post will be huge by any measure.”
How did the Discover Boating team do it?
“We hit the goal faster than we expected,” Blackwell says, “and we give the credit to the increased industry support we received. More and more industry entities are consistently sharing our content. Just one example: You can see the list of companies that have added our new Movie Maker application. That had resulted in more than 3000 “Welcome to the Water” videos already posted and shared.”
There’s more evidence that the Discover Boating campaign, our industry’s major national promotional effort, just keeps building momentum. So far this year, for example, there have been 1,486,061 visits to the DiscoverBoating.com website, up 32 percent from a year ago. There have been 1,236,488 unique visitors, an increase of 30 percent. Page views have increased to 3.3 million from 3.1 million, and referrals to manufacturer’s websites have more than doubled this year to 289,138. (As an interesting sidebar, since the inception of Discover Boating in 2006, some 1.1 million people have been referred to manufacturer websites.)
What are the most visited pages at DiscoverBoating.com? “The Boat Selector” ranks first with 389,126 page views, up 162 percent from last year. It’s followed in order by the “Get Started in Boating” DVD, “Boat Types”, the “Boat Loan Calculator” and “Get Off Your Dock Guide to Boating.”
The extraordinary success of Discover Boating’s Facebook effort is such a good story, Facebook has elected to feature it as a case study in their Facebook Ads section.
“We’ve succeeded in gathering a large body of boaters and potential boaters into a community – a virtual marina of sorts – that receives engaging boating lifestyle messages daily,” Blackwell says. “We’re reaching, and positively influencing, millions of boaters every week. Boaters are social by nature and we’ve really hit a trigger with them via Facebook.”