The Joy Trip Project and Channel Signal want to connect with the connectors
The social media mainstream is a force to recon with. In a crashing wave of millions individuals are making their opinions known around the world. Using Internet-ready smartphones, laptops and other web surfing devices Bloggers, Tweeters, Facebookers, Flickrphiles, Podcasters and YouTubers set the course of the info-stream even while they’re navigating it. With clever ideas expressed in less than140 characters or lengthy web log commentaries these jacked-in data hawks are moving the flow of conversation to new and exciting places. The best and brightest among them are the influencers, those individuals whose content is thoughtful, compelling and worth passing along to others.
It’s these influencers that I follow to keep up to speed on what’s going on in the world outdoors. Even though they’re fully wired, outdoor influencers can put their gizmos down long enough to get outside for a long trail run, a mountain bike ride, a few telemark turns or even just a dogwalk to the local farmer’s market. When they come back they post their experiences to share with others and fuel the conversation. And now as a new media analyst for Channel Signal I’m looking to connect with as many outdoor influencers as I can. I know quite a few, but I aim to find more, many, many more.
A few weeks back you may have read a story on The Joy Trip Project about my friend Steph Davis. She’s a professional base-jumper and wingsuit flier out of Moab, Utah. Her blog and video posts on the web site High Infatuation make for a popular landing stop for those inspired by a fully engaged active lifestyle. Her site caught fire in a blaze of discussion when she reported that her entire kit of base gear was lost on a United Airlines flight from Zurich to Washington/Dulles airport.
“The whole bag had my custom wingsuit and a parachute with my sponsor’s logo printed on it,” Steph said in an interview. “There was some climbing gear and other stuff. All included it was worth about $12,000. At first United was only going to give me a $250 travel voucher. I said uh-huh! This is how I make my living.”
Over the course of a week or more hundreds of people posted their comments online and expressed their displeasure with United’s indifference to Steph’s circumstances. Most pledged never to fly the airline again until her gear was returned or compensated in full. The Twitter posts came in a flood that pretty much overwhelmed United with bad publicity and the executives in customer service finally caved. They wrote Steph a check for the replacement cost of her gear and she’s back to jumping out of planes.
Steph Davis is an influencer. Using the power of social media she was able to shift the tide of a bad deal in her favor and may have made it a little better for the rest of us. How likely will it be that United, or any other airline for that matter, blow off customer complaints in the future?
It’s influencers like Steph who can raise awareness for a variety of different issues and causes that are important. People like Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, have successfully used social media to help educated people on the harmful effects of climate change. Organizations like Conservation Next and Changents have created social media platforms to get people involved and keep them motivated to work toward positive change on a local level in their communities. Individuals working alone or in small groups can help to influence those around them to make a difference in the world.
These are the people I’m looking for, influencers who prompt their friends and acquaintances to get involved and take some kind of action. In the outdoor space this includes people who are engaged in conservation initiatives, those working toward environmental justice, anyone pushing the performance envelope in exploration or adventure, someone with a bright idea about how a piece of gear might be improved or made better, or just some random guy with an ax to grind who can make a concise compelling argument that makes good sense. Maybe it’s someone like you or someone you know.
I’m putting together a list of outdoor influencers. Drop me a note with a Twitter ID, Blog address, Facebook page profile or a solid point of contact and I’ll check them out. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Give me an idea of what makes them a good outdoor influencer and I’ll get in touch. As we get fully into the 2010 year in adventure lets get the conversation rolling. ~JEM
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