Whether you’ve been crafting rods for years or are looking to take your rod building business to the next level, social media provides invaluable tools to promote your brand and connect with customers. Platforms like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok allow rod builders to showcase their craft and tell their story to a wide online audience when content is created strategically. This article will explore how rod builders can leverage social media platforms to promote their business through engaging content, consistency and leveraging trends. In order to learn more about promoting a rod building business using social media, we sat down with Jake Hutcheson of Mud Hole Rod Building and Tackle Crafting. In addition to being an avid angler and talented rod builder, Jake is also the company’s social media guru. Experts abound in each category, but it’s rare to find an individual who possesses all three skills.
Join us as Jake walks us through the differences between each platform, recommends best practices, and warns what not to do if you’re looking to draw eyes on social media.
Understanding Social Media Platforms
Before they start creating content, it’s important for rod builders to understand the key differences between the major social media platforms in order to choose the best ones for promoting their business. By learning the unique qualities and algorithms of each platform, rod builders can determine where to focus their efforts for the greatest exposure and engagement with customers.
TikTok is one of the most effective platforms for rod builders to promote their business due to its wide reach and focus on short, attention-grabbing videos. In Jake’s own words, “ in my opinion, TikTok is the best platform to be on right now if you want to grow and go viral.”
“On TikTok,” Jake continues, “it’s all about short form vertical content. Anything under 90 seconds qualifies.” Vertical content, for the unfamiliar, simply means footage that is shot with your phone’s camera held “normally,” or straight up-and-down. This is in contrast to the horizontal footage that is preferred by YouTube’s algorithm.
Leveraging micro trends is key to generating viral content on this rapid-paced platform. According to Jake, “you can take a trend that’s present just in the public eye and tailor your rod building content towards that.” Rod builders should also “use trending audios and hashtags and follow trends” to capture viewers. If your content is structured around a trending format, or features currently popular snatches of music or audio, then the odds of your content being promoted by Tiktok’s algorithm increases. Basically, think about what content people are already watching, and make more of that.
According to Jake, Instagram is also an effective platform for promoting a rod building business:
“Instagram; the main few ways you’re going to use it are, you’re going to do the same type of videos you would do on TikTok – short form vertical. Anything under 90 seconds qualifies as a reel, anything over 90 seconds or one minute and a half as a post.”
He also notes the importance of Instagram stories: “the most important thing when you’re a business, whether you’re a customer or business or whatever, it is your Instagram stories, because you can put links in stories. A lot of times I’ll post the same video I posted as a reel as a story. Instead of just reposting that reel to our story I post the video to the story and put a link, and that does really well.”
Those links are important, because they let you funnel that social media traffic towards a purchase. Something to remember is that it’s no good pursuing “likes for the sake of likes.” It doesn’t matter how many thousands or millions of views your content gets, if at the end of the day those interactions don’t convert to buyers.
While TikTok and Instagram have huge audiences, it’s time to point out the elephant in the room. The majority of people who can afford custom rods aren’t hanging out on those platforms. If you’re targeting a younger audience, you can advertise to great effect on these apps. But if you’re targeting an older (read, wealthier) demographic, Facebook is going to be your bread-and-butter.
However, the proliferation of short form, vertical content has made its way onto this “traditional” social media platform with the advent of Facebook “reels.” Facebook reels are one of the most effective ways to promote a rod building business on the platform, according to Luke.
“The number one growth strategy for us on Facebook is Facebook reels,” he says. “Facebook and Instagram are both owned by Meta, and they both have reels. And those just plain work. If you produce a quality, engaging reel, your followers will spike. At Mud Hole, we have 100,000 followers on Facebook. And that growth has been mainly from reels over the last year.”
YouTube has also been around for quite a while now, and remains popular with anglers of all ages. Unlike the other social media platforms we’ve discussed, YouTube is famous for hosting long-form content shot in the horizontal plane. It’s not uncommon to see videos that are several minutes up to even an hour long on this platform.
This makes it perfect for creators looking to tell more involved stories. It’s also a great chance to give really detailed information on how you go about building your rods.
Luke notes that Mud Hole uses the platform mainly for educational purposes.
“We have specific demo videos on how to work with snakeskin, how to glue up a handle, how to repair rod guides, how to repair tips, as well as a “Rod Building 101” series,” he says.
By creating these educational videos, you establish yourself as an expert in the field. It’s easy for a customer to think of you when it comes time to buy a custom rod if they’ve watched hours of video over the last year showcasing your knowledge and skill set when it comes to building rods.
While long form content is popular on YouTube, the platform has also embraced short-form, vertical content. If you’re making long-form content, don’t hesitate to make short-form content from the most engaging bits and cross-post it as a YouTube short, Facebook or Instagram reel, or TikTok.
“Podcast clips do extremely well,” he says of this strategy. “People clip out good podcast segments and put them on their YouTube shorts.” Doing this provides viewers with easily-consumed “sample bites” of your more in-depth content.
What You’re Doing Wrong On Social Media
When asked about common mistakes rod builders make with their social media content, Jake says the most important thing is to modernize and be aware of current best practices:
“You might be making the most beautiful rods out there, but your social media is old and outdated.” he says. “You have to modernize. You have to have quick cuts. Your vertical format videos cannot be shot horizontally and have black screen on top and bottom to make it vertical. Shoot vertically, record vertically, entire screen.”
He also emphasizes the importance of paying attention to what successful rod building channels and accounts are doing well.
“If your stuff’s not growing,” he urges, “look at people who are and really be detail oriented and pay attention to what they’re doing right, and what you’re doing differently.”
One of the biggest killers of promoting a rod building business using social media is not establishing a posting schedule and sticking to it. You get punished on two fronts when you don’t post consistently. Algorithms hate it, for starters. But your actual, organic viewers also suffer when you post infrequently. Jake emphasizes that you need consistency for your viewers. “Consistency is key on every single platform,” he stresses.
Final Thoughts On Using Social Media To Learn Rod Building
It’s clear that social media offers a plethora of opportunities for craftsmen to showcase their skills, connect with enthusiasts, and grow their brand. As Jake explains, each platform – TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube – provides a unique avenue to captivate an audience.
The key takeaway is the importance of adapting to the medium. Whether it’s embracing TikTok’s rapid-paced, trend-driven content, leveraging Instagram’s multifaceted features like reels and stories, capitalizing on Facebook’s demographic reach, or delving into the depth and detail possible on YouTube, each platform requires a tailored approach.
However, when it comes to promoting a rod building business using social media, it’s not just about being present on these platforms but about engaging effectively. Modernizing content, understanding the nuances of each platform’s algorithms, and maintaining consistency are crucial. By creating and executing a solid social media plan that hits all of these notes, it’s possible for rod builders to inexpensively provide a drastic boost to their brand’s visibility.