Yes, we will be opinionated and bias

I just wanted this to be clear, we will be opinionated and bias.

What is Skatehorde?

In the early 2000s it was a project started by James Hopkin and Jackson Shapiera. We talk about that project in this podcast. Basically it was a vlog and skateboard website. Jackson raced in the 2008 IGSA World Cup series and filmed and created a video every week. It was the first time anyone had done such a project, and I backed it up with a website that talked about racing and the IGSA downhill series. We provided stories, results and an event video. I think it stoked the community and we got a lot of excellent feedback.

Problem was it cost a lot of money to produce the content and we had no way to make that money back. I don't do projects to make money, but I can't fund projects that have no means of supporting themselves. Online media was new, there was a lot of questions over media copyright, especially music, and online ad revenue was non existent. Even today online ad revenue is too small for most websites, you need mainstream appeal to attract large volumes of traffic to earn decent advertising revenue. Skatehorde turned into Hopkin Skate. I used the same formula to sell hardware via a skateshop instead of selling advertising on a website.

Over the years Skatehorde has been a platform for new ideas and projects. I used it to sponsor skaters such as Steve Daddow who already had a skateshop sponsor in Cre8ive Sk8. The last few years we have tried to create a rider profile system. We still have that website here. The idea was to create a way of displaying racer data for spectators, officials and commentators. The idea is sound, using it on race day at Newtons was hard and we all reverted back to the IDF spreadsheet. So that's a fail 🙂

To explain the latest reincarnation of Skatehorde I need to tell you about the problem.

What is the problem?

At Hopkin Skate we picked up Ahmyo wheels. Bought in some stock, and I had some discussion with Calvin about flow or sponsored riders in Australia. A year on and we did not sell many Ahmyo wheels and Max over at All Downhill Distribution picked up Ahmyo and I spoke to Max about it. It was only then I realised there was a bunch of flowed riders in Queensland, they had not connected with me, I had not connected with them. These riders were promoting Ahmyo in the only way available to them: Facebook and Instagram. Ahmyo was doing the same thing. Here is the problem with Facebook and Instagram, it is their platform and they decide who sees your content. In 18 months who did not see any content was James Hopkin or Hopkin Skate. Here I am selling Ahmyo wheels, promoting the product online and I see nothing. I am not criticising anyone, essentially I am using these platforms commercially and they have the right to make brands pay to get content in front of me. So if Ahmyo bought advertising, I would have seen their content. However Ahymo have already paid to create the content; they are sponsoring riders at a cost, and maybe even paying again for content like videos to be made.

This is a model that has been successful since the dawn of skateboarding, long before the internet world coined the phrase "Influencer". Brands sponsor skaters due to their influence, they influence other skaters to buy the brand. Simple. Does a brand want to pay twice? Pay the influencer and then pay the platform (Facebook/Instagram) to distribute the content. That was sort of the deal brands had with magazines. Sponsor the skater, they would do rad stuff get written about in magazines, to support this exposure brands would advertise in the magazine. There was a line between advertising and PR. We expected, and we still do, to be told when a brand pays for marketing, when the article we are reading is an advertorial or the writer has been given the product to write or do a review. There was this unwritten rule that if a brand supported the magazine with advertising then their skaters/product would be supported in the magazine. I think we are ok with that relationship. Sponsored skaters have always been a part of the industry, as consumers we understand a rider is sponsored to promote a brand, a skater reputation rides on what brands they support. You could say a flowed/sponsored/pro rider is opinionated and bias.

In the current age of social media, there is a disconnect between brands, flowed/sponsored/pro skaters and skateboarders who buy products. I'm sure Ahymo measure their social media and are happy with what they are getting, however I'm an example of someone who did not see anything in their newsfeed. Is social media becoming an echo chamber? Facebook and Instagram are restricting organic reach (unpaid exposure) so will the problem get worse? Any method to game the system will only work short term.

This is the problem we want to fix. Helping skaters and brands create and distribute content. Using the existing model of a digital magazine, the advantage is it has a low cost of entry and low maintenance cost. More importantly a digital magazine is outside the walls of Facebook and Instagram. It is it's own destination, it is its own platform.

If we create a system for brands to use, then companies like Ahymo and their flowed riders have another channel to promote their products and skating. We cross promote our content to help expand the community. Skaters who want to be more involved in the industry side of the sport can connect to brands looking for skaters to create content.

We have no specific goal for Skatehorde, other than creating content skaters want to read. Maybe a completely different group of skaters will use Skatehorde, and we are ok with that.

To start we need you. You the audience to tell us if what we are doing is worth coming back on a regular basis. We need you the pro/flow/sponsored skater to work with your brands to help us create content. We need brands to be involved and make Skatehorde a distribution point for content.

Here is how it will work.

We have unique software that makes collaborating easy. To write an article is super simple. A brand can create an idea for an article, they can invite their skaters onto the platform to collaborate or we can assign a skater writer. We have outlines to help scope an article – who/what/why/how. The brand can have final approval before it gets published. A brand does not even have to be involved, if you are a skater and you want to promote your sponsors, then join and we'll work on some articles.

Once an article is written, we then choose the audience. There are over a 100 different type of platforms we can connect too. We currently have our media assets connected such as Skatehorde, Hopkin Skate blog, Hop Podcast, Hopkin Skate Facebook, Newtons Facebook, Hopkin Twitter, Linkedin and Medium.

We can add any media assets the brand or skater has, automatically push the content at the time of publishing. We set primary locations to avoid content duplication penalties.

This is beauty of the system we have set up. When we publish it goes out to every media asset. We can customise each channel, what we say on Twitter is different to what we say on Facebook. Then the system reports on all channels, we can say how many people viewed it and how many people read the article.

If you are a skater and you need to report on the value of your sponsorship, you can do that on Skatehorde. Write an article, we can give you a report on how well it did across all the media. Send it to your sponsors, they might increase your flow or deal!

Brands can see what type of article or content performs better. We did a series of articles on the World Roller Games. Two separate articles on the women's final and the men's final. Both headlines exactly the same structure. Which article did better? Women or Men? My guess would have been the men's final, that is what we are told, men's or open's is more exciting, more people are interested. You would be wrong. 4000 people viewed the men's article but 6000 people viewed the women's article!

If you are a brand, that is valuable information.

This is what we want to do. Help skaters and brands create content that works and that is measured.

It is not for everyone, and maybe this Skatehorde experiment will also fail. If you want to be involved, we would like to hear from you. Contact me through the Hopkin Skate

As our headline states, we will be honest. We are not showing banner ads on Skatehorde, but we will be working with brands and sponsored skaters in creating content. In that way, we will be opinionated and bias.

However, we are open to have that challenged.

There is one certainty in skateboarding, and that is change.