Goodbye Twitter, ta ta Facebook, so long Linkedin
A new social networking site for sailors, TheOpenSea.com, hopes to become the new Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter for the boating world, reports IBI magazine.
One of its founders says it is welcoming all types of boaters as well as any type of group or business across the industry. “It doesn’t matter if they’re on a kayak or superyacht, our URL will be open to everyone,” says Todd Russell, who co-founded TheOpenSea.com with industry veteran Gary Druckenmiller. “There are a lot of websites for boating, but we felt like there was a major disconnect with no social or professional marine networks. We believe that a social network is a great way to improve the industry.”
Russell says that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter rely on users to generate generic content, while traditional websites tend to “push out” content to users, whether they want it or not. “We see ourselves as a combination of Facebook and Linked-in for the marine industry,” says Russell. “But we thought Facebook was too broad, so decided to create a foundation for boating.”
Like all social networking sites, TheOpenSea.com wants to attract as many diverse groups as possible, from crew members on megayachts looking for jobs to groups focused on industry issues. “The Genmar bankruptcy is a great example,” says Russell. “All of the Genmar dealers, for instance, could create a group and start communicating with the manufacturer and then the boaters. We don’t see anything else out there that would allow them to do that.” Russell says that the same Genmar dealers could also promote their boat lines with photos, videos, forums and logs?the nautical URL term for blogs. “Our URL can be used in so many ways,” he adds.
In its current Beta stage, TheOpenSea.com has over 100 companies on the site. Companies like West Marine, Westerbeke, Triumph Boats and the National Boat Owners Association have already formed their own user groups. As word about the social networking site spreads, its founders hope to attract 100,000-200,000 users. The site is built to host over a million-plus users.
Westerbeke, which has signed on as an initial sponsor, is a strong believer in the social media phenomenon. Tom Sutherland, director of sales and marketing, said that he has had some initial luck marketing his engines and generators through sites like Twitter and Facebook. “But I like the idea that the Open Sea is strictly focused on marine,” says Sutherland. “You can go in and set up different groups, talk to very specific types of people, and you’re not just limited to 52 characters. It’s a great tool to get in there and reach out to customers.”
Sutherland adds that it will let him respond instantly to consumers. “We can really see what people want and need, and it can allow us to talk about issues and products that are of interest to consumers,” he says. “People want instant information, and this gives us that capacity. It’s also a great tool for building our brand.”
Sutherland foresees different logs for Westerbeke owner groups, master distributors, instructional videos, and new product announcements. “You can do just about anything on this site,” says Sutherland. “They have really brought together the best of what’s out there in the social media space. Another thing I really like is that besides the time, there is really no expense involved.”