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Unexpected Links in Social Networking

08/03/2010

Social networking is not a new phenomenon. The ongoing Coleman ad campaign that touts the tag line: The Coleman Campsite: The original social networking site is a great illustration. Coleman makes a great connection and reminds us that long before the internet there were…campsites.

You can watch the 35 second video here.

As a camper, I love the connection. Coleman has been assisting people with their outdoor adventures for over a century. My green stove and lantern are neatly stored in the garage. Every time I see the TV spots, I am immediately nostalgic for the smell of pine trees and stories around the campfire. (I am however less nostalgic for flooded tents, wet sleeping bags and mosquitoes.)

The underlying theme is that Coleman “pretty much invented social networking”, which is somehow much more charming than the time Al Gore claimed to have invented the internet. The play on words, of course, implies that they’ve been helping people to network “face to face” for a long time. That socializing is the key to what makes camping a fun worthwhile trip, the gear just assists. This is true of web-based social networking for any business: the engagement is key while the tools (your website, Twittter, Facebook, LinkedIn) just assist.

The Coleman people are also bridging a gap. In the past, the hiking-boot-clad National Park goer and the modern technophile may have seemed diametrically opposed. But as we all know, technology has moved into new spaces. The advent of smart phones means that an iPhone app can be useful whether you’re on the city streets or making your way to the trail head.

Additionally, Coleman is using an integrated social networking approach with a suite of web 2.0 accounts. They are using each online venue slightly differently – Facebook for contests and service, Twitter for camping info and promotion, Youtube  for product demos. Most importantly they are staying engaged with their customers. Their efforts are worth a look if you are looking for a little social networking inspiration.

Sure camping is about living outside for a while, but it’s also a time to connect with the people you’re with, engage in conversation, and enjoy the great outdoors. The ads are a great reminder that we can use technology to assist us in making the personal touch that Independent Agents are known for and to bridge gaps in unlikely places.

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