When it comes to marketing his company Open Blue Sea Farms, Brian O’Hanlon has done a great job.
The cobia fish farmer has been featured on The National Geographic Channel, on CNN, and in Forbes Magazine, but a recent decision to conduct an open online forum on the popular entertainment, social networking and news website reddit.com opens up a whole new audience and opportunity for the US Massachusetts-based company.
Reddit hosts what it calls r/IAmA forums which feature people—business executives, actors, government officials, doctors, and social commentators—who are interviewed by members for a certain block of time.
“IAmA is the traditional way of beginning the description of who you are; ‘AMA’ is the traditional way of ending the description; the acronym means ‘Ask me anything,’” explains the internet company on its website.
The interviewee begins the process by starting a post, describing who they are and what they do. Then, commenters leave questions and can vote on other questions according to which they would like to see answered. The interviewee then responds to any questions that he/she would like, and in any way that he/she prefers.
“I’m somewhat of an internet guy,” Brian O’Hanlon told FishBytes. “My generation has come up in the Internet Age, so I am comfortable with the medium.”
He said one of his salespeople has a relative who works at Reddit and they asked if the Open Blue founder would be willing to do one of the r/IAmA forums.
O’Hanlon feels the internet offers different types of unique opportunities than other forms of media.
“I think there is a personalization that isn't there with other forms, between the audience and me,” he said.
If it gained the attention of O’Hanlon, maybe Reddit might be an option for other fish farmers and aquaculture professionals to reach out to the public and spread the word of not only their businesses but the wider industry as well.
The title of each forum starts off with an introduction.
“Hi! I am 3rd generation in my family in the seafood business,” O’Hanlon introduced himself to the participants. “My grandfather got his start in the famed Fulton Fish Market back in the 1950's and he was followed by my father, aunts and uncles. Rather than follow them in the seafood trade, I decided to follow a different career path at a young age and farm fish instead.”
He explained how that family background led him to realize farming fish was the next natural phase in producing seafood. He added a description on Open Blue and the cobia they farm.
The questions asked were aquaculture related such as species selection, or as unrelated as the origin of the fish farmer’s name.
“Do you have any plans to expand into other species of fish?” asked Mikecom32.
O’Hanlon said they are focused on cobia today, but the whole Open Blue farming process from hatchery to open ocean farm is in the warm waters of the Caribbean where there are potentially dozens of other species they could work with.
“Are you of Irish descent?” asked abcdefghljklmnopq339.
O’Hanlon was gracious in his answer saying he’s a few generations removed and that his great, great grandparents had migrated to the US from Ireland.
But most of the questions remained in the fish farming arena.
He was asked to describe cobia by a participant who had never tried the fish before. Another asked why O’Hanlon thinks open ocean aquaculture is the answer to sustainable seafood supply in the future and what in particular makes it better than land aquaculture?
“I think open ocean aquaculture is going to be a major component of the future seafood supply, but not the only one,” O’Hanlon answered. “I do believe there will be a place for traditional aquaculture, onshore aquaculture and wild fisheries, and I do believe that as global demand continues to rise open ocean aquaculture will eventually become the primary source of seafood supply.”
O’Hanlon remains open to trying other internet properties to promote his company and the opportunities of open ocean mariculture.
“I mean we are always open to new ideas and believe in having a transparent approach to how we interact with the public,” he said.
To check out the full r/IAmA with O’Hanlon, go to http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2rs6xq/i_am_brian_ohanlon_founder_of_open_blue_a_company/
Instructions on how to use the forum for your own marketing are also available.
— Erich Luening