Do SCUBA Gear Manufacturers Need to Connect with the End User?

At what point on the SCUBA food chain do people need to start connecting? As a SCUBA instructor, dive center or SCUBA certification agency, we encourage divers to find buddies to go diving with, but do we need even more connection, and if so, where?

The Suunto Example

Yesterday, I was discussing the beta version of Suunto’s new web site. I was a bit surprised to see that Suunto is on Twitter and Facebook, which leads me to believe they understand internet marketing at least a little bit. Comments have been going back and forth, but mostly pointing out that this new “beta” site is not the most impressive update.

As a large brand, I would expect them to have at least someone on staff who monitors chatter about them online. If they did, the comments would be an excellent opportunity to share their vision and perhaps get some free user testing. Companies like Comcast, JetBlue and Zillow all monitor the usage of their brand online, why can’t companies like NAUI, Aqualung and Suunto?

Certification Agency Brand Monitoring

SDI/TDI has a sub-forum on SCUBA Board that they monitor closely. Several PADI employees subscribe to my RSS to email newsletter and have commented on Facebook to my posts. But if someone says on Twitter “interested in learning how to dive”, why don’t any of the certification agencies jump on that?

Dive Center Online Marketing

As a test, months ago I sent out a tweet expressing my interest in learning to dive in Austin, TX. I have a friend who thinks that Austin is far cooler and tech savvy than where I’m located, but my test proved her wrong. Not one person offered a suggestion and no dive centers contacted me directly. That should have been an easy victory by simply setting a search alert for “Austin SCUBA” and checking it once a day (or more frequently if staffing allows).

Whose job is it?

Some may think SCUBA certification agencies and SCUBA equipment manufacturers have larger budgets, so they should be reaching out. Others think that training and equipment sales are a local business, so it should be the local SCUBA diving centers and SCUBA instructors. Or perhaps there’s some gray area in the middle where everyone should be doing it (bingo!)

What do you think?

Photo via ~Prescott

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