How social media is paying for this hobby fisherman’s passion – Nova Scotia

A Nova Scotia sport fisherman has caught on to a growing social media trend to help him pay for his outdoor hobby.

This spring Matt Szeto came across a social media site made just for fishermen called National Prostaff and started posting photos and videos of his catches. 

“It’s like Instagram for fishermen,” said Szeto, who lives near Fall River.

“Fishermen post pictures of fish, lures, or anything fishing related.”

Using social media to net perks

National Prostaff is similar to Instagram. Along with posting their own fishing photos, users can “like” other anglers’ photos, follow and message other fishermen, and tag what types of gear they’re using. (National Pro Staff)

The lure for anglers, he said, is they can use their profiles to apply for sponsorships with bait and tackle companies by reviewing the gear they use.

That’s how Szeto snagged a sponsorship deal with a company called Smartbaits, which makes fishing lures.

Szeto, who works full-time during the year as a school teacher, received perks like free gear and a trip to Florida to attend a major fishing conference.

“Some guys make commission off their stuff. Some guys just do it for fun. They get the samples,” he said.

Niche sites gaining popularity

National Prostaff is part of an emerging trend of social media websites and apps that target specific groups, said Ramesh Venkat, a professor who teaches a course on social media marketing at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.

Today you can find a unique social media network for baseball, baking or beer, to name a few.

Companies like using social media because they provide a captive audience interested in their products — and users who vouch for them.

“There’s a recognition that word of mouth from a peer or other consumer is more trustworthy that advertising,” said Venkat.

fisherman

Matt Szeto says an Instagram for fishermen has allowed him to share tips and make connections with anglers across North America. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Dan Miguel, CEO and founder of National Prostaff, said fatigue over mainstream social media has fuelled interest in platforms like his.

“Facebook and Instagram are … so flooded with generic content. Really, [users are] just trying to find places where the stuff they’re interested in is really centralized,” he said.

After founding the website in Oshawa, Ont., in 2011, Miguel said the company has rapidly grown in the last year to employ 20 people. 

With 2.6 million unique visitors to the site every year, there’s no shortage of fishing fanatics to connect with.

Connecting with others

Szeto said using social media isn’t just about hooking sponsorship deals.

He’s also found a community of people who share the same passion.

“If I posted on my own Instagram there [would only be] a couple of my friends who are interested in fishing,” he said.

“It doesn’t really go really far.”

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