Caed Howell & Jared Nelson fishing the Colorado from Lee’s Ferry, Arizona

“Oh no,” you’re thinking. “Not another ‘how to’ social media training from a social media ‘expert.'”

You’re right on both accounts. I’m no self-proclaimed social media guru, and this isn’t your typical social media primer.

This is about fishing for customers and trout, and it is in answer to a question from our fly fishing guide, Jared Nelson.

“How do I get more business?”

Just like my son and I are to fly fishing, Jared is a fingerling to marketing. He guided us over the Father’s Day weekend on our first-ever bout with the trophy rainbow trout on the Colorado River between Lee’s Ferry and Glen Canyon Dam. Following thorough and patient instruction – which apparently found little purchase with my overwrought eagerness – we set about these world class waters with the subtlety of newbies whose fly fishing touch and intelligence were no more than zygotes of ability.

We whipped our rods like Zorro, snapped off flies with the crack and regularity of a bug zapper in the Bayou, spasmed in wild recoil too often and too late following strikes so nuanced that it felt like the fish were just messing with us. How many times was my 5′ 11″ frame ensnared in my own 3 pound test, my type-A personality pitted against the tantrum of tangled leader, and did my squinting eyes pull at the corners of my mouth recreating the derelict crescent moon smile of The Joker as I  focused on a hand-spun midge that made a dust mite look mighty in comparison?

Now add a swirling 20 knot breeze that billowed through the canyon as if intermittent freight trains were speeding by; at one moment pushing our torsos upstream with the taunting nudge of an annoying older brother, while the rising current tried to sweep our lower half toward Lake Mead. Our nearly numbed toes, resembling five thumbs in surgical gloves, clung to every rock they could manage through neoprene waders in the 43 degree Colorado.

We were having a ball!

Conversely, Jared plucked rainbows from the water at will. His $800 rod was not a fishing pole. It was an appendage. He moved with the grace of Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It, with a mouth as offensive to the ears as a rusty Foldger’s coffee can filled with a wad of night crawlers is to a fly fisherman. He knew where to fish, when to fish it, and how to deal with a couple of fly fishing bumpkins like us. As guides go, he’s a keeper.

Since we set free more than 30 of his hand-tied flies, I thought it’d be good fly fishing karma (and maybe he’d have us back) if I answered his marketing question in this post.

Fly fishing and social media both require artful strategy, persistent attention, knowing where to fish, and a little luck

So Jared, if I’m you trying to lure more anglers into my boat, I’d want to own the best fishing hole there is, and then build a community around my guiding service for repeat and referral business. Let’s start with the fishing hole. You’ll find this when you achieve and maintain page dominance on Google, bing, and Yahoo around search terms like: Colorado River fly fishing guides, Lee’s Ferry. Currently, there are only two significant competitors that own that front page listing, and one of them is your employer. They will welcome the added traffic your efforts will bring. Here’s how you do it…

  1. Create a simple “Jared Fly Fishing Blog” using an easy tool like Tumblr provides free and low-cost design templates to help you create a beautiful website for your guiding services without knowing a lick of code.
  2. Develop a content strategy that incorporates important keywords in your copy and tags for the best search engine optimization (SEO) – Colorado River fly fishing, Lee’s Ferry fishing guides, rainbow trout fishing guides, etc. And don’t forget your expertise on Lake Powell and keywords associated with that fishing venue. For an example, go back through this post and see how many times I use those keywords.
  3. Write and post short blogs featuring your fishing exploits. Always include photos of the spectacular Grand Canyon surroundings, the beautiful river bends and eddies, and the remarkable fish you catch and release. (Never be caught on the water without a camera!)
  4. Invite your current clients to email you their pictures, and always write a post about their adventure for them to share with their fishing buddies.
  5. Create an opt-in email list from their emails so that you can regularly ping them with various fishing trips as captured on your site.
  6. Email your clients a Holiday card with a photo from their trip to keep you top-of-mind.
  7. Leading up to the anniversary of their trip with you, email them a reminder 45 to 60 days out asking if they’d like to schedule their next fishing adventure.
  8. Fish, post, repeat.

Other online promotional tactics I’d outfit my tackle box with include using Facebook and Twitter to promote my posts. Instagram could be a fun venue to create fishing derbies for photos your clients can compete in. And Pinterest might be a fun collecting pond for fly fishing photos from around the world to share with your community.

I was surprised to find cell service from the river at the bottom of the canyon, which allows you to send realtime updates as your fishing adventures unfold.

Nothing grows the heart fonder to an activity more than watching someone else enjoying it without you.

I think that social media marketing is actually easier than casting a minuscule hand-tied fly wrapped around a barbless #2 hook at the end of a wispy fishing line to catch an ichthyic, which definitely has home court advantage.

And here’s Jared’s new tumblr fly fishing blog he created himself.

What did I miss in guiding Jared through social media? Please add your insights below in the comments.

Fish on!