Social media has become a knowledge resource for magazine and its readership.
BROOKLIN – When WoodenBoat magazine topped 100,000 Facebook fans on May 20, the company honored its followers by offering one randomly selected fan VIP treatment with a special visit to the magazine’s headquarters in Brooklin, Maine.
The unnamed fan will receive two nights in Brooklin at a local inn, a tour of the WoodenBoat waterfront facility, a day-sail with lunch on a Concordia yawl, and dinner with the magazine’s editors. In addition to the on-site visit, the fan will receive special WoodenBoat apparel and a one-year subscription to the magazine. WoodenBoat magazine offered this VIP package in appreciation of the knowledge, support and camaraderie that has developed among wooden boat aficionados through the Facebook page (www.facebook.com/WoodenBoatPub).
The entirely organic growth in WoodenBoat‘s Facebook page began in 2011 when Pat Lown, director of research at the WoodenBoat Research Library, began using the social media platform to gather and share more information about boats. In the early days of WoodenBoat‘s Facebook page, a reader contacted the WoodenBoat Research Library seeking help in identifying a one-design sloop with a distinctive logo on its sail. Pat recalls thinking, “Why don’t I put this on Facebook and see if anyone can answer the question.” At that time, the response from the small audience was moderate. Recently Pat reposted that same question and it was answered definitively within hours.
“The growth just happened,” Pat says. “Before I knew it people were coming out of the woodwork. We have fans of all ages in at least 44 countries — with some surprises such as Syria and Myanmar among them — speaking as many or more languages. This shows me the enduring, widespread appeal of wooden boats. I think of our Facebook page as the ultimate bulletin board, and I’ve tried to make it a place where people feel welcome to ask questions, to promote boating events and boatbuilding programs — especially for youth — and to share knowledge. It has been a natural extension of the job I already do in the library. I am thankful to Anne Bray, my former boss in the library, for prodding me to start posting on the company’s page.”
The opportunity to give back to fans through the 100,000-fan VIP giveaway was important not only to Pat but to the entire WoodenBoat Publications staff. “I wish we could give every fan of the magazine a tour of Brooklin where we celebrate wooden boats every day,” said Jim Miller, publisher of WoodenBoat magazine. “Our editors and staff hear the remarkable stories and see the beauty of these special boats constantly. Our growing and varied Facebook fan group is indications that these stories are still appreciated around the world, which means a lot to all of us.”
WoodenBoat magazine is in its 41st year in print. The magazine’s popularity has generated a spectrum of events, educational pursuits, and opportunities for fans of wooden boats including the annual WoodenBoat Show in Mystic, CT; the WoodenBoat School in Brooklin, ME; two additional magazines, Professional BoatBuilder for the trade and Small Boats Monthly for small-craft aficionados; the WoodenBoat Store; and the annual trade event IBEX (International Boatbuilders Exhibition & Conference).