Surfer Magazine Rides the Social Networking Wave: Publisher Rick Irons on magazine’s new online community
INBOX: Did you hire a full-time editor specifically for the community?
IRONS: We have people on our staff who are the experts in that field who are already handling it for print and Web, so we’re just going to get them more focused on [the community] and they’re going to make sure the site is as fresh as it can be. We want to create a youth hub for surfing, and we don’t feel it exists anywhere on the Web right now. … Other sites have a broad audience, a lot of people look at them, but this is specifically for the young surfers. In that sense, it’s totally unique.
INBOX: Why did you specifically choose Loop’d Network for this venture?
IRONS: Well, we saw some examples of how they had success with the [online community] Monster Army, and they were starting to do some stuff with [retailers] PacSun and Roxy. They had built a strong community with some of the other parts of the action-sports network, and so we felt they had a good model for it. We felt we could bring them something unique and bring them some real credibility in the surf world, and they would bring us an infrastructure that could help us supply what we were looking to give to this audience [as well as to] try to bring some new people into the surf genre who [already] were into skateboarding and motorcross and other things as well. We feel there’s a lot of natural connection between all those different sports.
INBOX: What benefits do you hope to see from building this community?
IRONS: The benefit for us is just to bring more people into the surf community, to become fans of the surf world, because as a crop of young surfers grows, the future of the sport is in better hands. It just means that there’s more young people getting excited about surfing, and it’s just better for us in the long run, because we’re going to be able to have an audience as we go forward. … This is the new generation, and we want to give them a voice. … We feel like Hot100.com gives these young surfers a voice and a place to connect with other young surfers. … We want them to know, “Hey, you have a place where you can come and hang out, and check out what you’re into.” That’s the idea.