13 02 2016

#SMAT, or the Social Media Adventure Team, is a ‘project’, for want of a better word, started (I believe) by Rick Hunter, in order to gently and irreverently poke fun at the concept of using social media to advertise (or adventurtise). In other words, to sell outdoor gear. Rick has significant chops when it comes to long distance self supported riding and bike touring. Reading about his exploits is a fine way to generate some wanderlust and more than a few laughs.

This photo was lifted from the 8lumens feed – a finer posse of champs you may never meet. Go to http://8lumens.bigcartel.com

I got to thinking about this concept recently after reading this piece by Bedrock & Paradox and a conversation with a friend about social media advertising in general and indeed how people represent themselves on social media.

Take this blog, for instance. I am relatively selective about the information and stories I portray here. It probably paints a certain picture of me and I have mixed feelings about that. Without experiencing the ‘whole me’ assumptions about what I do, where, how often and in what style will be made. You, kind reader, generate a subjective view. I have no idea if what I type here is a true and valid reflection or some sort of self-aggrandising, internet-tough-guy bullshit. Hopefully, it is the former!

As ever, there are some very divisive examples and one is Specialised Bicycles and their #goAWOL and ‘seek and enjoy‘ programs. These involve some cool folk doing cool things on bikes. It looks like a lot of fun and I am, quite frankly, jealous. I suspect, at least partly, that is the desired effect. Maybe I will go and buy the bike and therefore attain the lifestyle.

Of course the issue here is one of authenticity. As everyone knows, you can’t buy authenticity.

Specialized also have some credibility issues due to their fierce and renowned habit of legally defending what they deem to be their intellectual and trademarked property. Rightly, or wrongly, it tends to rub people up the wrong way. One such example was forcing a well known and bona fide, adventuring bag maker to change his companies name.

A few years later and they are supporting ambassadors, out there, doing epic things and producing spiffy, design concepts.

Of course, everybody just wants to have fun and perhaps make some money. So, social media advertising is not necessarily a bad thing. But it is beginning to take over my instagram feed. Brand ambassadors are an important part of most companies product exposure efforts these days. Beautiful people in beautiful places. A (branded) mug of coffee steaming at sunrise next to a precipitously pitched tent and a trail leading off into the distance. Mind fodder. Dream building. Lust inducing. And perhaps, sometimes, slightly fraudulent.




4 responses

18 02 2016
Skyler Des Roches

Perhaps a greater challenge, before determining how genuine any of the “seekandenjoy” stories are, is deciphering the incomprehensible writing “style” employed by that particular strain of SF/LA/Portland cyclists.

27 02 2016

Agreed, the postmodern backcountry anthropology thing confuses me. I do enjoy the Seek and Enjoy program and hope it moves Specialized to continue to develop their adventure lineup. The AWOL Evo now includes racks and dynamo lighting…waiting for the equivalent in bikepacking trim from a major manufacturer.

18 02 2016

It’s very true that Social Media personas are curated – and can be curated any way you want. I could focus mine solely on the beer I drink and you’d think I was a lazy alcoholic. Or I could only focus on the bike riding and you’d think I was a super fit rider, when the reality is somewhere in the middle (nearer the beer though).
After all – Lance chose to Tweet ‘Just back from a tough six hour ride in the mountains’ rather than ‘Shot up some EPO, I’m off for a pizza’

22 02 2016

curated – thats a great description! :-)~

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