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Fat Bob and Social Media – First Ride

Fat Bob and Social Media – First Ride

Did I mention the time that I had to send my oldest daughter to college with my Jeep Liberty, and my wife said “why don’t you get a sports car?” Well, my youngest daughter is coming back from college, and she will want her car back – so my wife will start driving my Camaro, and I was FORCED to purchase…a Harley Davidson Fat Bob motorcycle.

Alas, the sacrifices I must make for the greater good!

So being a socially-savvy consumer, I took to Google to find the perfect bike for me. I visited corporate websites, motorcycle forums, review sites like RideApart, TopSpeed, and Cycle world…and social channels like YouTube, of course. Brands, please pay attention! As a socially-savvy consumer, I did a lot of reading, and my decision was ultimately based upon peer-to-peer reviews and conversations versus any celebrity. I’m a walking case study for Influencer Marketing, and plenty of my peers were talking about the Harley Davidson brand…and it wasn’t in a focus group or survey. Those conversations happen in that 24/7 focus group called the Internet.

Here are four findings after my personal research and subsequent first ride on my Harley Davidson Fat Bob:

1. Get Better Mileage

One of the reasons I originally went with the V-6 Camaro was that it was highway rated to get about 29 miles to the gallon. I just couldn’t bring myself to buy the gas-guzzling (incredibly fast and fun) V-8 that gets a paltry 14-17 mpg. Well, this Fat Bob gets about 50 mpg, so I can get almost 250 miles on a single tank of gas.

Social Media Mileage: This always comes with the disclaimer – individual mileage may vary! However, the Internet never forgets. Evergreen blog posts can have a very long shelf-life, so people may find your “How To <blank>” blog post two years after you published it! With appropriate long-tail keyword use and social sharing, Google will also continue to favorably rank your content long after you publish it. I rely on WordPress SEO by Yoast to help me craft highly readable, SEO-friendly blog posts.

2. Spend Less on Maintenance

I have four vehicles to support a family of four going in four directions at any given point in time. Those vehicles range from 4-10 years old, so I am spending some pretty pennies just on preventative maintenance! Who knew a timing belt cost so much…and have you priced Camaro tires lately?!? With cars, maintenance can add up to the thousands of dollars – with motorcycles, the maintenance (and even customization) is typically in the hundreds or less.

Social Media Maintenance: Social Media is not free, but your biggest costs are in the human resources necessary to successfully incorporate social media into an overall marketing strategy. You can then leverage several free (or inexpensive) tools to help with content creation, curation, publishing – and engagement! Tools in my own toolbelt include self-hosted WordPress blogs, Feedly, Buffer, BundlePost, Hootsuite, and multi-author blogs like Business2Community, SteamFeed, and Curatti. Of course, I use our own Pulse Analytics for social media listening and analytics (and would love to give you a Pulse demonstration, if you are interested).

3. Balance Heavy with Responsiveness

Full disclosure: I finally had decent weather to take my new bike out for a ride around town. Since I’m new to riding, I rode to a stadium parking lot where I could practice navigating between parking aisles and weaving at lower speeds. I was impressed with how responsive and stable the bike was, at high and low speeds, versus the little motorcycle I drove when qualifying for my motorcycle endorsement. Then I tried to park while still slightly out of balance. I weigh a little under 180 lbs – a Harley Davidson Fat Bob weighs in at about 670 lbs. I almost laid down my bike on the first day!! I managed to fight the bike back upright while still holding onto the clutch and relaxing the throttle to keep it from launching out of control.

Social Media Responsiveness: One aspect of Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law is “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion.” If you never add social media to your marketing strategy, then it can never benefit you. You could argue, “yeah, but it isn’t hurting me either.” That is an untruth because I assure you that your consumers are already out there talking about your brand and their purchase decisions…and your competitors may already be using listening and engagement tools to opportunistically win your customers from you! Once you get started, and under control, you will find social media equips you to be very responsive to your customers and prospects. And just like a motorcycle can topple you under its greater weight when coming to an unbalanced stop, stopping the use of social media as a communication channel – once you’ve conditioned your followers to a higher level of engagement – can topple your brand. Commit to social as a component of your long term strategy, and always err on the side of honest over-communication.

4. Embrace the Culture

burned boot after riding Harley Davidson Fat Bob for first time

When it comes to culture, I went into this motorcycle acquisition all wrong! I’m not really a joiner, and I have no interest in being a poser or wannabe, so I couldn’t imagine myself decking out in a leather jacket, riding gloves, boots, and then doing the biker salute every time I passed another bike. But here is the kicker: a motorcycles does not have a few thousand pounds of car all around them to protect them from injuries and the elements. Jackets protect against the wind and debris, gloves protect against debris and even bee stings, and those boots also protect against debris and even the hot exhaust. Look at the picture of my boot after the first ride. A tennis shoe would have melted, or I could have badly burned my foot. Regarding the biker salute, the world needs more courtesy and fellowship! Embrace the culture for your own protection and reward.

Social Media Culture: There is a stark difference between the communication styles, and response times, of LinkedIn versus Instagram or Twitter. LinkedIn is the poster child for professionalism where both Instagram and Twitter can at times devolve into hashtag irreverence and humor. You can afford to skim and respond to a daily summary of LinkedIn updates. If you wait a day on Twitter, you are about 23 hours and 50 minutes late! I’ve also seen strong contrasts in the blog comment sections of certain blogs. Go to Sensei Marketing, and you can see passionate debates around influence scoring. Cruise over to Spin Sucks and take part in friendly banter while discussing anything from PR in a Social Age to the latest Kid President video in the Gin and Topics series (that kid is cute). Take the time to understand the “voice” of the social channel, and then adapt your messaging and engagement accordingly.

My Harley Davidson Fat Bob first ride was an exhilarating success that gave me a brief taste of freedom from what can often be a too stressful world of my own design. I respected the road, the conditions, and the bike – and I survived to ride another day. If you embrace social channels as part of your marketing strategy, while respecting the “rules of the road” and conditions for each platform, your brand can do more than merely survive. It can THRIVE while building an engaged and loyal fan base that will advocate for your brand when other consumers are making purchase decisions and vendor selections.

Happy cruisin’, folks.

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Brian Vickery

I love my Vickery Girls - and now grandsons! I am blessed in that I also love my job as a VP of Enterprise Solutions for ProKarma. I appreciate the convergence of big data and data visualization in our Pulse Analytics social listening and analytics platform as well as our core software / mobile app development, business intelligence, and test automation services. I enjoy teaching and coaching, watching football and basketball, and playing tennis. I graduated UT-Austin. You can find Brian on .

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