Help wanted! Core snowboard company looking for leaders to get us followers. Must be likeable and able to make an impression. Riding not required.
As an intern I am angry about a lot of things, hence this column. Last week my strife came from the acute case of carpel tunnel syndrome I was diagnosed with after clipping paths around bindings in Photoshop for three days straight. The week before it was doing an unnamed 17-year-old Arcadia rider's online algebra homework. R + E + D = FML. In other words, the reality of spending a semester absorbing the day-to-day duties of the TransWorld staff is hardly living up to the fantasy. But between these monotonous duties, as I scroll the social feed from my makeshift desk in this dark corner of the office, it's become clear that hard work, talent, and dedication to snowboarding's lifestyle aren't necessarily the formula for to getting my goofy foot in the door of the snowboarding industry.
Before Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and a myriad of other new fangled time sucks emerged, back when apps were about the food, not the feed, anyone who spent more time spraying about shredding than actually strapping in was considered a poser. Now they're branded as social influencers, and this click-driving clique is highly coveted by marketing directors, team managers, advertising agencies, and anyone else who gets their original ideas from new media e-marketing newsletters.
All it takes is an unlimited data plan, a pirated copy of Photoshop, and a budget to buy bots, er, friends, and you're in business. A whole new world of algorithms, keywords, scheduling assistants, and analytics are at your fingertips as you embark on an exciting career as an #athletemodel. But don't let the athlete part scare you, unless you consider typing 200 characters a minute rigorous. Just don't crop out the product placement or forget to use the right tags. I look forward to seeing the metrics in your bio.
Ultimately aligning with someone because of their snowboarding skill and knowledge is such an antiquated concept. After all, cell signals and internet connections are so spotty in the mountains, and the whole "no friends on a pow day" credo can really affect ones reach. It's all about what's relatable these days. If a follower is too intimidated to try the tricks of the pros, well, nothing can stop 'em from posting an aprés selfie from the base lodge bar, just like their favorite internet celebrity.
Do social influencers translate to more products being sold? Well if you are in the business of selling phones, then that is definitely true. Otherwise, I leave you with this comment. Jim Jones had thousands of followers, but where are they all now? Don't drink the Kool-Aid.