Seeking to combine social networking with literary art, Minneapolis-based cycling gear maker Banjo Brothers plans to release a piece of cycling-themed micro-fiction through its Twitter feed on April 2.
"In general we feel that cycling and the arts have a very synergistic relationship," company co-owner Mike Vanderscheuren told BikeRadar. "And while this is marketing per se', it's also real fiction and not some heavy-handed marketing piece."
The fictional story, which takes place in Minneapolis and was written by Ian Pratt, will be released in 16 installments of 140 characters each, starting at 8 a.m. CST and concluding at 4 p.m., via Twitter, a rapidly growing social networking tool which allows members to send messages of 140 characters or less to other members who “follow” their updates.
“The marriage of cycling and art is a natural," Vanderscheuren added. "The cycling community as a whole has a long history of being passionate about music and artistic expression. Recently, cycling-centric events like Artcrank, which showcases bicycle-inspired original artwork and the Bicycle Film Festival, which now has spread from the United States to nine countries, continue to grow in popularity.
“We think the micro-fiction project will be intriguing to our cycling demographic and in the process of enjoying the story, we suspect these same customers will become more familiar with our products,” he said.
As a start-up with limited funds for more conventional marketing, the Banjo Brothers used social media, corporate blogging and advertising via blogs to connect with customers. According to Vanderscheuren, the Banjo Brothers have grown from seven Minnesota independent bike dealers -- through mostly grassroots efforts -- to over 450 dealers nationally in the past four years.
“Having a high level of customer contact is in our DNA,” says Eric Leugers, the other co-founder and chief product designer. “We’ve always positioned ourselves as an operation where you could pick up the phone and talk to one of us if you had a question or a problem, so using tools like Twitter and Facebook have come pretty natural to us.
"From a product design standpoint these tools are fabulous because we can see, read about and participate directly with our core audience of users,” he added.
According to Vanderscheuren, there will be a special offer released with the story and Banjo brothers has partnered with Minneapolis bike shop and internet retailer Calhoun Cycle to process the special deal.