Facebook Groups Are Certain Death To Classic Boat Clubs. Unless.

I know, I know,  you all think I always on some sort of anti facebook rant. To be honest, I use facebook, instagram and other social media platforms. mostly to keep up with old friends and family. Although my kids left Facebook years ago. Dirty little secret. Tons and tons of people have accounts, but they lay dormant. Which means it may seem like its everyplace, but who’s using it? Enough people for sure. Woody Boater sees around 300 clicks a day from Facebook. Nothing to write about. Of course I am now. But that’s not my point here.

11,268 members, yet the actual membership is a small fraction of this number

This group is not a club but a facebook group. 10K members

Facebook Groups. I just heard a radio ad on Pandora from Facebook to look for, join or create a facebook group. And it hit me like a ton of bricks. Genus. And oh SHIP! Now, another dirty secret. The Chris Craft Group facebook is around 4  times larger than the club. Yup. Hey, its free, social, and you can get info in seconds, rendering the Boat Buzz somewhat obsolete. HOLD ON, HOLD ON! Dang, give me a chance here. You do get what you pay for, and free advice on Facebook, or even here on Woody Boater should be suspect. Anything online is kinda that way. Hell, just ask why your engine doesn’t run and you will get 50 wrong answers. BTW, you were out of gas..

Did you check the gas tank?

But imagine you are a club, collecting dues. And there is a group that replicates you for free and is very active 24/7.. No matter how much you bitch, its gonna win in spades. And so Facebook is creating Groups.. NOW.. WHY? Well.. Its about advertising and reach. NOT YOU! In fact it’s using YOU and your bad photos and posts to be content, while they market to you. And whats easier and more focused than a cluster of like minded readers. By joining the Chris Craft  Classic boat group and posting stuff. YOU ARE THE TV SHOW, THE ARTICLE, the main reason come visit. And Facebook is profiting from that, literally while putting the clubs that support you 100% out of business. And on top of that crap, they are allowing anyone and anything from anywhere to spew there crap to you as long as they pay for that. WTF! Imagine for a second, I allowed that. Imagine if Woody Boater allowed political crap to be spewed to you because we are free. You would kiss my aft so long. YET, you are continually feeding the facebook beast. STOP IT! Unfollow the groups. Follow your family, old girlfriends, who ever you want to stalk. BUT NOT GROUPS. STOP! Its death. Like the Meth of the internet. Think I am kidding. THERE IS A WEBSITE ON IT. HERE


Anyway, I know you are here for photos of boats, babes and fart jokes. YA.. I see the numbers.. Don’t try and rise above it. Just enjoy it. But from time to time I need to apply my 40 years of marketing experience to the obvious. Is there anything that can be done about this? I suppose its like the Walmart effect. Is the natural evolution of crap. I went to go buy a way back machine, and the store is closed. I couldn’t even find one on Amazon!

The Woody Boater Facebook page has almost double the group pages. And yet we dont open the page to the type of stuff the other pages. Oh we are not above crap. But used differently and do have likes.


Seriously though what can we do about it to protect the clubs and reliable sources of information. After all if the clubs,and me included drop Facebook, wont someone else jump in. Yes. The trick is to use it, not make it your platform. Knowing there are like minded people there, makes it a great place to promote your club.

Now the tougher conversation is. And sorry it took this long to get to it. What is your club doing that Facebook can’t? Events, yes. Sound advice, yes, standards, yes. Advocating our passion in political ways. Lobbying for laws or against new ones. There is power in a group, that Facebook groups don’t have. We saw this happen to Newspapers. Its NOT about the paper or the news. Its about credibility. And that’s what clubs are. Credibility, A reliable source of objective information, and there to promote the passion in a focused and positive way. Facebook and other social media platforms are media buys, no different than placing an ad or message. This will of course cause the club to look real hard at why you are here. You will have to change how you do things. Which is hard in a volunteer group that replaces its self yearly. YOU NEED TO DO THIS THOUGH! I give huge credit to the ACBS, who kicking and moaning has figured this out by the way. Dan has been a huge help, and I know is trying to turn a battleship in a small creek. But its working.

29 replies
  1. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    never been on fakebook. The points Matt makes today have convinced me to stay active in ACBS and CCABC….I got a cyber notice that my ACBS dues were payable online right now…but that I would be getting a (the usual) snail mail notice soon. When that arrives I intend to re-up for the umpteenth year. Real flesh and bones friends and all that stuff…..
    Think I have to move the boat from the yard today….temp in 20’s…will check marine forecast….before Going Boating.
    John in Va.

  2. Mahoganymadness
    Mahoganymadness says:

    The cyber world is kinda nice on a cold snowy morning..but I think people get a little to addicted to it when we have the opportunity to use the boats. The physical presence of a boat club is a must, it gives us the shows, trips and events, and as always people should be involved with what they sign up for. Some things you just can’t order and have Uber deliver…now get out to the garage and start prepping for spring

  3. Garry Ferguson
    Garry Ferguson says:

    someone out there must know where I can find a windshield and mounting brackets for my restored 1960 correct craft. HELP!

    • Floyd R turbo
      Floyd R turbo says:

      Did you try posting on facebook? Just kidding. So what is it 1950 or 1960? Or do you need both? Or is this a parady of what happens on Facebook

  4. Mike D
    Mike D says:

    But Matt does it matter if I look at a site on facebook but never click on an ad? Does someone make money if I just visit sites? I used facebook until the 2016 election. I tried to delete my account but gave up because of the complexity. Instead I just don’t go there and anyway, I forgot my password. I view web browsing like shopping, if I don’t need something I don’t even pick (click) it.
    I click on ads on WOODY BOATER occasionally because I am interested in specific items advertised. And of course I click on your blog because I need your sanity, I mean insanity, with my morning coffee.

    GENE PORTER says:

    Very timely article Matt. And you didn’t even mention Fakebook’s sorry record of promoting fake stories generated by governments that are hostile to US ethics. And thanks for noting ACBS’s efforts in this regard.

  6. Miles Kapper
    Miles Kapper says:

    I am one of the administrators for the The Thompson Boat Owners Group on Facebook. Before the group was established on Facebook I published the newsletter “The Thompson Dockside” with an accompanying website. For a variety of reasons, some personal, some practical, I stopped producing the newsletter in 2009 after ten years. What our Facebook group has done is reach classic Thompson enthusiasts who may not otherwise be aware of other like minded folks. We have about 1,000 followers, substantially more than I had with the newsletter. As you pointed out. A Facebook group is not a club for several reasons. However, the benefits derived from a FB group can offer invaluale information. Your comment about clubs having credibility and FB groups not, simply isn’t true. If anything it could be argued that because there are so many involved, that should something not be correct there are no shortage of folks clarifying the issue. Make no mistake, I agree with you that a club can accomplish things that a FB group simply can’t but people are looking to connect with others often for very specific reasons. If someone posts on the Thompson page asking where they can find a match for the Lemonade yellow paint for their 1957 Sea Lancer they will probably get a response within the hour. The Thompson rallies are promoted on our page. In this sense are we acting as more of a club than a group exchanging information? I think the lines continually get crushed. For those clubs that have the infrastructure to operate with their FB page as just one component they manage that’s wonderful. For other groups it makes sense their FB page is their method of bringing as many together with the same interests.

  7. Matt
    Matt says:

    Miles you make a great point. but at some point, you are supporting Facebook financially and that is not a long term play. But for a club your size it makes sense. And is better than nothing. Credability comes in many forms. A trusted source. A voice that can defend you, and a larger group that might have the financial ability to save something one person could not. I think for the local ACBS chapters for example its very smart to be on facebook. But only to announce things and promote the ACBS chapter. Save the content for something that drives readers to your thompson web page.

  8. Jeff N.
    Jeff N. says:

    I’m not a fan of f.b. and i only started one just to go on Century group page. I would much rather see a Century website with a msg board to ask questions or learn from others.

  9. Doug in Maine
    Doug in Maine says:

    I just bought a Lyman and joined the club. I’m told the club has a FB page with all kinds of great info and stuff but I ditched FB a couple of years ago. I kinda feel a little left out.

  10. Miles Kapper
    Miles Kapper says:


    Thank you for your response. I’ve done a little bit of research since you posted your comment. Let me first say right off the bat that I apologize in advance if the following numbers don’t quite jibe with the group I am talking about. They are approximate. Since the ACBS is the benchmark I counted a couple of different groups and then compared those numbers to the groups FB site. This is probably a good indication of where things are going. The number of Thompson/Cruisers owners in the last ACBS directory: 302 Number of followers on the FB Page: 992 Number of Lyman owners in ACBS directory: 551 Number of Lyman owners on the ‘main’ FB page: 4,500 (This doesn’t include three other FB pages dedicated to Lyman) Moving on to old outboard motors! (hey why not!) Number of members of the Antique Outboard Motor Club International: 3,000 Number of followers on their FB Page (which I understand isn’t even sanctioned by them but rather an individual) 13,187

    So… what we have here is a whole lot more people gravitating to FB to show off their boat, look for info about it, sell it, buy one, or drool over something they didn’t even know existed. How all this relates to the ACBS Marque groups and the local chapters is another discussion.

    I don’t think people care about the politics of Facebook, how they advertise, whether you click on something or not. Frankly all that doesn’t make a whole lot of difference. It matters not to people that while we are playing checkers having coffee at Starbucks, the Facebook PhD’s are below the street playing three dimensional chess with our data.

  11. Dean
    Dean says:

    Miles, thanks for your thoughtful comments. However, I for one do care about Facebook’s politics and the PhDs gathering information about me and that is precisely why I have never joined FB.

    • Miles Kapper
      Miles Kapper says:

      Totally understand where you are coming from and I respect your decision. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I purposely published my newsletter in a physical form that had to be mailed because so many subscribers didn’t own a computer. The irony is that now most everyone does and almost expects their information to be brought to them via the internet. To that end sites like Facebook serve the purpose and the trend seems to be that folks are embracing them more.

  12. Matt
    Matt says:

    Miles Way to go!!!!!! Love the conversation. LOVE! It’s a double edged sword. I advise to market on Facebook, because of stuff like this. But HOW its used is very important. Its a tool. Politics aside. I have said, and still stick to it. The members of clubs are deep into the passion, and care a great deal, and are the type of people that contribute, givers. They see the greater good. But does not indicate the numbers of people that love old boats. I own a 1958 Chevy truck and dont belong to a car club. For that matter, I dont belong to the ACBS either. I am not a club person. But I try and help regardless. I clearly see the value of clubs done well. This is the sort of disruption folks talk about. Only now its hitting clubs and old boats.

  13. Dane
    Dane says:

    I don’t understand why you were looking at Walmart for a Wayback machine. I thought your Barn was a Wayback.
    Anyway, if you really need to buy a new one, they have them on eBay.

  14. Matt
    Matt says:

    WOOOHOOO, I can go back to One Ringy dingy time. I need a rotary phone now. I wonder how you can see the internet on this? UGH!

  15. Tommyholm
    Tommyholm says:

    I hesitate to participate but what a load of crap. Chicken Little will persist until the sky does fall. Facebook, websites, email, the Internet will not be the death of boating clubs. Perhaps blogs or cults will as they are quite singularly minded.

  16. Miles kapper
    Miles kapper says:

    My prediction is many who arn’t friends with the internet will be when/if the ACBS decides to send out a digital only version of the Rudder once when they figure out how much money they can save.

  17. Texx
    Texx says:

    I am currently in the process of fixing up an old 1966 Chevrolet car in the garage, doing all the work myself as a project. Should have it completed for spring 2020.

    Not really a restoration, just cleaning up an nice original driver. Engine, transmission, bumpers, carpet, moldings, dash, a/c, suspension, brakes, new wiring harness, interior, etc. The car will be 95% period correct when it’s done.

    I joined a number of Facebook groups that are specific to the year and model of the car I have and those sites have been extremely helpful in terms of finding rare NOS parts and valuable information. Still can’t believe how many NOS parts I have found on the FB sites that would be almost impossible to find without FB, as most of the reproduction parts available from the various suppliers are poor quality compared to NOS parts.

    Just post what you are looking for, pay with PayPal and you have the parts within a few days via courier or USPS. Never been burned once, as most of the members want to maintain a good reputation on the sites, and quickly get rejected by the admins if not.

    I would say, of all the NOS parts I have purchased (and there has been a ton – like 10K worth), 90% has been from FB pages and 10% Ebay. Honestly don’t know how I would have done it without those FB Group pages. – Texx

    • Tommyholm
      Tommyholm says:

      It is not a competition. The Facebook group is a service provided by the club. The FB group provides new members to the club as well as “new” boats. Clubs went through the same challenges when web sites were invented with their corresponding online forums.

  18. Miles Kapper
    Miles Kapper says:

    In the old days you would join a club and if you needed a part you would call fellow member Charlie because he knew where anything was. If Charlie didn’t know where to get it he would refer to his buddy somewhere in Iowa that had sketchy phone service at best. The internet, with Facebook and eBay specifically has changed all that. What people tend to forget is that a club means you have actual people who have the time to dedicate to do all the things one would expect from the club. Begging for volunteers for most clubs is a full time job! It requires dedication from a few folks who pretty much run everything because no one else has the time though they enjoy the benefits. If you don’t have the people to form and maintain a club, then in many cases a Facebook page is the next best thing – and possibly even better than the next best thing.

  19. Tommyholm
    Tommyholm says:

    Miles, one does not replace the other, if one can make it additive. Chicken little just wants the sky to fall, for selfish ignorant reasons. Many a club,s last breath was the website in conjunction with lost of active volunteers leadership, usually, or something similar. They thought it could replace the human aspect. Let’s stay positive and embrace change , there is no “ better” or “ one way”. Btw , you are spot on .

    GENE PORTER says:

    Well Matt you have amplified a very important dialog by noting the threat that FakeBook poses to vintage boat clubs.

    Yes John I just joined FB after years of resistance to the blatant privacy issues and foreign misinformation. But when more than one vintage boat club’s authoritative web site has languished and been overtaken by the entropy driven unfocussed random but pervasive presence of FB, serious attention is warranted.

    Miles and Tommy have obviously given considerable thought to this issue. My current take is that both the extensive and sometimes unique outreach of FB and the needed core management skills of the clubs are needed. FB isn’t structured for collaborative long range planning of key events such as boat shows and workshops – events that bring joy and enrichment to the lives of so many vintage boat junkies. Nor is FB a useful repository of the authoritative design and finishing data that is essential to the preservation of old boats in as authentic a configuration as is currently safe – a goal that most – but not all – affectionados share.

    Yes FB is a useful tool for reaching out to the vintage boat diaspora, but the heavy lifting performed by the core members of the clubs remains essential. Don’t discard the baby with the bathwater. Keep the Club communications current and interesting, whether digitally or on paper is less important,

  21. Eric Tolnes
    Eric Tolnes says:

    Great article! An article which I most likely would never have seen had it not appeared in my Face Book page.

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