A couple of months ago, I banged the drum about my 30th anniversary of working in the turf biz. Yay for me and all that…but we’re also sneaking up on the 30th anniversary of something vastly more important: digital turf information.
Yup, about three decades ago in 1988 a thing called TurfByte was born. It was hacked together by a few pioneering supers (Duane Patton of Lawrence CC was one key player and the legendary Jon Scott was in early). The genius behind it was the late Dale Gadd who was a writer at GCSAA by day and a computer wizard at night.
TurfByte was a bulletin board system, a very primitive forerunner of the message boards popular in the ‘90s and ‘00s on AOL, Yahoo and other platforms. (If you’re old like me, you still despise even the thought of dial-up modems and those stupid LCD screens that looked like a broken Etch a Sketch half the time.)
TurfByte attracted about 20 supers and others around the country who possessed the ridiculously expensive PC, a cutting-edge 1200-baud modem and who would log on, post a question and wait for one of the other 19 to maybe provide an answer. Predictably those running GCSAA back then were more worried about TurfByte being used for association politics and gossip so they basically disavowed it. Ironically, the ugly launch of the “new” GCSAA bulletin boards 10 years later proved them right.
Obviously things have changed pretty dramatically in three decades and we now live in a world of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and instant everything.
Today’s publishing tools might be space-age, but my job remains fundamentally the same as it was in 1988: Deliver useful information that helps turfheads do their jobs better. The question we face every day is how to do that in a world where GCI is quite literally active on 11 different platforms daily?
We did a broad survey last month to find out. So here are the latest facts and figures about how y’all use print, web, digital and social channels.
First, you still clearly want to read the magazine’s print edition. Nearly 75% of you were just as likely to read the printed version of publications like GCI or GCM as much as you did five years ago. In fact, the research said that demand for print readership was just as high as it was 10 years ago. In short, you still like the ability to hold the publication in your hands, keep them on a shelf, share with staff and, of course, read on the crapper.
But what about social media junkies like me? Are they still reading the print magazine? Ahhh…yup. Even among the 60% of you who said you use Twitter or Facebook regularly, there was virtually no drop in print readership. Only about 6% said, “I don’t read print because I get what I need online.” Again, that jibes with data we collected a decade ago. People aren’t reading less printed material, they’re reading more of everything on multiple platforms. In dietary terms they aren’t just carnivores or vegetarians – they’re omnivores who consume media across different channels for different reasons on different days.
And what about social media? We asked how many of you actually used Twitter or Facebook for work. About one-third of supers said yes to both channels. Facebook, surprisingly, remains just as popular as Twitter as a place to find business information. That said the discourse on Twitter seems a lot more professional.
Now are there more turfheads out there on social media who chose to answer “no” because they feel they don’t use Twitter or Facebook for “work.” Certainly. Dr. Micah Woods, Dr. John Kaminski and I got together a couple of years ago and estimated that there were 28,000+ turfheads globally on Twitter alone. GCI has 13,400 Twitter followers and GCM has about 9,700. The “Golf Course Maintenance” group that Gary Grigg started on Facebook has nearly 10,000 members from all over the world.
Although some social channels are awesome, some are less so. Only 8% of you said you used Instagram for work and -5% of you use SnapChat. (Kidding! But almost no grown men will admit to using SnapChat unless, like me, they have daughters who use it as their primary form of communication with the world.)
There’s more great information in the study about how turfheads consume information but I’m out of space here in the old-school, linear, dead tree edition. If you want a copy of the results, just email me. Or text me, or message me on Twitter, or Facebook, or LinkedIn, or comment on our Website or, best of all, send me a Snap! All the cool kids are doing it!