Equipment brands tap into social media

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – For decades, television cameras, reporters and photographers have taken fans inside the ropes at golf tournaments and special events. With the growth of blogs and social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, equipment manufacturers now can do the same – and they're sharing behind-the-scenes information that gearheads love.

For example, Nike Golf has approximately 1.9 million "Likes" on Facebook, the most among golf equipment makers. The company posts photographs and video clips routinely, and they typically get a thumbs-up by thousands of readers.

On Twitter, TaylorMade's social media manager, Charles Kautz (@CharlieTour), routinely sends messages and photographs from PGA Tour stops, including this one from the Players Championship:

"My job really started as a pilot role at the beginning of last year," Kautz said on the range at TPC Sawgrass. "Internally, we felt like there was a lot going on out on Tour that we were capturing, but not necessarily capturing in a way that would be exciting for golfers. The reps out here on tour are so busy that it's hard for them to capture information and distribute it. I don't think they really realized the value of the information that they had."

Information about which players are testing new equipment, course conditions and other aspects of life on the PGA Tour are all fair game to Kautz and his counterparts at other companies.

"We just felt like there was a great opportunity for us to share what makes our brand unique," he said.

Harry Arnett, Callaway Golf's senior vice president of marketing and an avid Twitter user (@Callaway_HarryA), takes the importance of using social media one step further.

"It's pretty much the centerpiece of everything we do," he said from inside the company's tour van at the Players. "It's critical for us because that's a very engaged group of fans of our brand that are also up to speed on the fastest ways to communicate with their friends and other golfers."

Titleist is enabling its loyalists to share news and photos with other Titleist fans more easily with its new #MyTitleist initiative. After signing up, mobile photos uploaded to Instagram with #MyTitleist hashtag instantly feed into a web page where they can be seen by other "Team Titleist" members.

"[Social media] works just like a relationship," Arnett said. "You have to treat people with respect, and be transparent, and be consistent and deliver what you say you are going to deliver."

The chart below provides information to help you follow your favorite equipment brands in the world of social media:

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