The following is reproduced by permission of Jackie Siddall, of Toronto, Canada — the author. Jackie bought a yellow Cooper a few months ago.
You can also see some of her other photos here.
TWITTER MADE ME BUY A BOAT
With social media relatively new there are a lot of companies trying a lot of different ways to integrate it into their marketing efforts, with differing degrees of success. In my Twitter feed alone, which admittedly isn’t extensive, I have examples of sole proprietors musing philosophically about the nature of their industries, employees being told by mass email that they must start tweeting on their employer’s behalf (and wondering in a bewildered state how that’s even going to work), blatant hashtag marketing blasts, and the odd company representative who seems to really get it.
I recently bought a kayak from one of these last types.
It started during a Twitter exchange between myself and a friend in which I mentioned I wanted a kayak. Kayak ownership always struck me as far-fetched since I live in downtown Toronto and I don’t have a car, nor do I have a cottage.
I gained a follower that day, @davrutick, the president of a company called Folbot that makes folding kayaks. Until that moment I never knew such a thing existed. I followed him back and explored his website. Not only was it attractive and informative, it included a blog and a customer forum, the former frequently and thoughtfully updated by David AvRutick and the latter a surprising resource for all sorts of in-depth discussion on the company’s boats, their strengths and shortcomings, other kayaks, comparisons between Folbot models, comparisons to traditional hard-shell kayaks, and general chatter from customers new and old. Though hosted at folbot.com, they maintained a hands-off approach to the forum. Conversations inside it seemed refreshingly honest.
Between these two sources and the president’s enthusiastic tweets about everything from the kayaks, to Tabasco sauce, to his daughter’s softball practices, it wasn’t long before I felt I had a grasp on the Folbot vibe and culture even though they’re located in South Carolina. Since they only sell online and the product isn’t cheap, it takes a pretty high level of open communication to successfully sell these things. Each boat is made to order and comes with a lifetime guarantee, which several forum posters attested to the company honouring. Ongoing Twitter updates show the stages of handcrafting and testing as different models are constructed and assembled at weekly QC meetings. One blog post detailed how one of the kayak models was recently improved based on feedback a user had posted in the forum. It was as interesting as it was reassuring.
When I purchased, I tweeted the president that I’d done so and asked if he might take a couple of photos of my boat being made, since he’d asked in the past for requests for factory photos. He sent me 20 shots including most if not all the steps in the build, right up to the point where it was packed in the box waiting for shipping.
After it arrived, he tweeted at me to check that I’d been able to assemble it without any problems, and he has since commented on photos I’ve taken of it and in it.
Aside from it being a fantastic craft on the water and the fact it conveniently breaks down into a duffel I can haul on public transit or on a trailer behind my bike, it’s the best customer service I’ve ever received, and an example of one way to seamlessly integrate social media into business culture.
You can see the original post and accompanying photos here.
Thanks a lot , Jackie!