The age old question of supporting your local bike shop or ordering online has raged for a while and is still a very hot topic. I don’t want to banter the pros and cons of doing so but would rather discuss why local bike shops aren’t taking advantage of social media and trying to draw local riders into their shops.

As most of you know, I’m in the hunt for a new bike. As I sat here at the kitchen table this morning drinking a cup of coffee, wishing I was riding instead, I wrote a tweet saying that I was considering going to a local bike shop to look at what they had to offer. Then I tacked a question onto the end of it: Why aren’t they (the local bike shops) on here (Twitter) trying to get me into their shop?

Social Media Bandwagon - Photo Courtesy of Matt Hamm

Social Media Bandwagon - Photo Courtesy of Matt Hamm

I think that’s a valid question. So many people are using social media (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc.) and using it to connect to one another. Cyclists in particular are using Twitter like nobody’s business after seeing professionals like Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, and Christian Vande Velde (to name a few) create accounts and begin interacting with their fans. Local Bike shops are missing out on this by not using the tools to connect to cyclists in their area. I could see local bike shops offering special discounts or coupons via Twitter, group discussions on Facebook, or posting pictures from the local evening ride on Flickr. Lance Armstrong did this the other day when he invited Twitter followers to a group ride that departed from his own bike shop (Mellow Johnnys).

After posting this tweet I had one follower (thanks for the feedback @lowcandence) say that,

“They may not know where you are. If you are in CA, it wouldn’t do much good for a NY shop to try to get you in.”

I couldn’t agree more. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t people in NY looking for bikes, parts, or repairs. If that’s holding the local bike shops back then that means they don’t know how to use the tools that will connect them to local cyclists. Tools like Twitter Search, TwellowHood, Facebook Search, etc. The tools are there, they just need to use them. Or hire somebody who knows how to use them.

Local bike shops are always complaining that they lose business to online retailers. Fine. But what are they doing to pull the local cyclists in? If they aren’t using social media tools to connect to the cyclist down the street, around the corner, or across town then they are missing out.

Tell me what you think. Am I wrong? Is Social Media not what it’s cracked up to be? Do you know a local bike shop that is using Social Media?