Web Presence and Social Media in the Shooting Sports Industry

12 Aug

Everyone is buzzing about Smith & Wesson’s new web site, redesigned to deliver a stronger brand message and a better user experience. Key features of the new site include:

o Ease of use
o Ability to access product details without multiple windows and clicks
o Intuitive navigation
o Customized filters reduce user search time
o One click to view detailed product features
o 360-degree animation capability
o Flash technology

I spent some time on the redesigned site over the past several days and I agree that it provides a much nicer user experience. The site instantly draws your attention to new products like the Bodyguard and SD handguns and gives you one-click access to their various product lines (like the M&P line). Finding the specs for their new Bone Collector revolver for yesterday’s blog post did require a bit of clicking and searching though.

To gain full appreciation for the new site, I visited the Internet Archive for a look back at the 1999 Smith & Wesson site. To say that web sites have improved in the past 11 years is an understatement!

Of course it’s not just S&W who have great web sites these days. Ruger’s site is quite nice and I think Remington’s site provides a nice user experience. Other companies like Winchester Repeating Arms, Benchmade and CZ could use a facelift.

In my humble, non-techie opinion the shooting sports industry needs to fully embrace social media. Some companies, like Remington, already have and are actively engaged on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. They also prominently display, via links and icons, the various social media outlets they participate in on their web site. Remington has been effectively using social media to create a buzz about their new Versa Max shotgun by providing ‘exclusive’ info to their friends and followers. Smith & Wesson is active on Twitter but they don’t list a link or icon on their web site. At least I couldn’t find anything during 10-15 minutes of searching.

The key word with social media is ‘engaged’. Users expect, or at least appreciate, interaction. This means following Twitter followers, adding fresh content and being responsive to Tweets, posts on Facebook and comments on YouTube. It’s not uncommon, for instance, to see corporate Twitter users with hundreds or thousands of followers not following anyone in return. This practice gives the impression that the company is only interested in providing a one way flow of information, not truely being interactive.

Laura Burgess Marketing provided some good commentary on social media in the shooting sports industry a few months ago. There was also an interesting post earlier this week over at Field Journals about the decline of traffic to hunting specific social sites (like Archery Talk and HuntingNet) reportedly due to an increase in users switching to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, etc. to discuss their hunting and shooting interests.

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One Response to “Web Presence and Social Media in the Shooting Sports Industry”

  1. Doug Turnbull August 12, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    Here at Turnbull we agree. I think any company that is using social media will only discover the benefits of it by keeping in touch with their social media community. We use many aspects of social media to keep in touch with our customers. We have a Facebook,Twitter,LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, and blog account. It is very time consuming to keep up with all of these acconts but they provide invalueable information from customers and fans.

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