What is this #bassmasterclassic thing?

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Whether you’re on-site at the 2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro or you’re watching from home, you’ll be missing a huge part of the action if you’re not following along on social media.

And by social media, we don’t just mean Facebook.

If you follow the hashtag #bassmasterclassic on any platform that uses hashtags — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Google+ or Pinterest — you will find tons of information, photos and videos of the world’s biggest bass fishing event.

Hashtags are simply keywords that, when clicked, help you find content that other people have shared about a specific subject. Try clicking it: #bassmasterclassic. See?

Dave Mercer, the emcee of the Bassmaster Classic, will be posting for his huge fan bases on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@factsoffishing) using the hashtag #bassmasterclassic. B.A.S.S. will be doing the same thing, reaching our half-million fans on Facebook and 100,000 followers on Twitter.

“It’s an incredible time in society when you can reach into your pocket and pull out a device and instantly contact hundreds of thousands of people,” said Mercer, who recently passed 100,000 fans on Facebook.

“It’s the first time in history that an 18-year-old with a skateboard can reach as many people as a big corporation,” he continued, “and it doesn’t even cost him anything.”

Indeed, Mercer has become not only a big player in social media in the bass fishing world, but also in international sports. He was mentioned on a social media blog for being the most retweeted Tweeter with the hashtag #sochiproblems. His tweet, “Ohhhh it’s supposed be the Olympic Games. Easy mistake; Sochi thought they were hosting the Hunger Games #SochiProblems” was retweeted more than 3,500 times and favorited nearly 2,000 times. He was reaching people who have never seen his TV show or watched a Bassmaster Elite Series weigh-in.

Kevin VanDam is angling to be the first Bassmaster Elite Series pro to cross 100,000 fans on his Facebook page, and Mike Iaconelli is hot on his heels with more than 90,000.

“Social media really helps you keep in touch with your fans,” said VanDam. “In our business, the fans are the ones who keep us going. We know we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them.”

Iaconelli is the top pro on Twitter, where he has 23,000 followers.

“A strong social media presence is key because it's a direct link to my fans and also another avenue that I'm able to represent my sponsors,” said Iaconelli, who posts amusing selfies and big bass photos regularly. "Without the fans and sponsors, we don't have the sport we anglers get to call a job."

Instagram has become big in the bass fishing world, too, with Iaconelli (@mikeiaconelli) second only to Brandon Palaniuk (@brandonpalaniuk), who has accumulated more than 5,300 followers on the photo-based platform.

"Social media is the most powerful form of communication out there right now,” said Mercer. “Why do you think every company includes its Facebook info in its ads now?”

With the Bassmaster Classic coming up, here are the things you can do on social media to enjoy this event:

On Facebook, follow B.A.S.S. and follow all the Classic anglers as well. If you have trouble finding any of them, go to our Facebook wall and scroll down to “Likes” to get a list of ones to follow.

On Twitter, follow @BASS_Nation and all the Classic anglers. Click here for the list of all of them on Twitter. Also, follow the hashtag #bassmasterclassic for updates from anyone associated with the Classic. Plus, if you tweet with the hashtag during the Classic, your tweet might appear on the big screen at the weigh-ins!

On Instagram, follow @BASS_Nation and the hashtag #bassmasterclassic to get the best photos from the event, not just from B.A.S.S.’s top photographers and the pros, but also from fans at the Classic who are having a great time with their families. Plus, all Instagram photos that are appropriately hashtagged will appear on Facebook using this app.

Look for other Classic-related content on Vine, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest.

See you at the #bassmasterclassic!