Social media and the outdoor industry

How can you use social media to boost your business?

The outdoor industry continues to have a very bright future ahead, especially in the social media world.  Outdoor recreation alone is responsible for generating $646 billion dollars in consumer spending each year and providing Americans with 6.1 million jobs.  It’s no surprise that successful businesses that contribute to this economic powerhouse have a strong social media presence.  After all, outdoor recreation is often a social gathering of people who share adventurous interests, so it’s no surprise that these same people can be found on social media platforms.

The outdoor industry utilizes a lot of various social media tools.  There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to marketing your business in the social world.  What tools you choose for your business and what works best highly depend on your product branding strategy and company image, although there are some general guidelines that have proven to work well in the outdoor industry.

Here is a breakdown of the various social media platforms and how they are best used in the outdoor industry:

Facebook:  Start up a Page for your business and interact with your customers regularly.  Post pictures and videos of people enjoying outdoor activities, both from your company and from your customers.  Contest work well on Facebook as well, and are perfect for increasing user engagement.  Outdoor sporting good retailer REI does this very well, with over 1 million followers on their page.  The company posts a blend of inspirational stories, user generated photos, workshops and contests to keep users engaged.

goprowaterfallYouTube:  You can’t have too many videos- GoPro knows this, and capitalizes on the idea.  On the GoPro website you can visit the GoPro channel, which features “Video of the Day,” a series of customer-generated YouTube videos of people using their GoPro cameras.  Not only is it fun to see what other GoPro enthusiasts are doing with their cameras, but it’s also a great way to get some new ideas of how to use your camera to film great video.

Instagram:  DownEast Magazine has a unique array of images on their Instagram account.  Many images were sent to the magazine from readers, while others are staff photos which reference articles in the magazine.  Readers of the magazine love the photos and informative images, and for those who don’t live here year-round, it’s a nice reminder of the natural beauty of Maine.

 Bass Pro Shops has an active Twitter account, with over 200 thousand followers.  The company tweets photos from users and staff, and makes fins fun with entertaining photos and graphics for fish-lovers.  The company actively communicates with followers and sounds like a person when they do, not a company.  Those who work at Bass Pro love fishing just as much as their customers, and are always happy to help out.  Most communications on the Bass Pro Twitter site are lighthearted and fun, and the entertainment value alone keeps customers coming back to the page to see what’s new.

Pinterest:  L.L.Bean has over 5 million followers and rising on this photo-rich social platform.  On Pinterest you have the ability to find photos posted by other users and “pin” them to your photo boards.  L.L.Bean has boards titled “L.L.Bean Signature Style,” “Outdoor Fun,” “Bean Boot Style” and many more.  The company also has fun boards like “L.L.Bean Freeport Fish Tank” where they post pictures they find of users who took photos of themselves in the view bubble inside the fish tank.  Through featuring photos from their customers, L.L.Bean is engaging with their followers and showing them that the company has an interest in what customers do with their products after the sale.

 From the beginning many businesses have found it difficult to
understand what value they will receive from Google+.  The platform has gone through a lot of changes and still lacks the ability to clearly show what the benefits are in using this platform compared to others.  Google+, for now, seems to be best used by technology-based companies, such as, once again, GoPro.  A quick search turned up meager followers with many other powerhouse companies in the outdoor industry, but GoPro is again top with over 600 thousand followers, which is incredible on Google+.  The company regularly posts videos and pictures, both from users and the company, at least two each day, and keeps users engaged with contests.

People who love the outdoors tend to be active, engaged individuals- both online and outside.  They enjoy seeing the outdoors, experiencing the outdoors, and being social with others who are passionate about the outdoors.  When not outside the needs of outdoor enthusiasts can be satisfied through photos and action videos on social media platforms.  As a business in the outdoor industry, deciding which platform or platforms work best isn’t always easy.  The quickest way to decide?  Check out your competition, and see where they are online.  Find out what is working for them and emulate it, and avoid what doesn’t seem to be working for them.  By utilizing multiple social media platforms consistently, your business will gain ground in the social media world and in time will show marked improvement in rankings. ↟

Angela Quintal-Snowman

Angela Quintal-Snowman

Social Media & Online Marketing at Katahdin Media Works
Angela lives on an island off the coast of Maine.She loves outdoor adventure, business, marketing, and learning.When not outside enjoying the great outdoors with her family, Angela can be found combining her wide variety of passions and skills to help people and businesses grow.
Angela Quintal-Snowman

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