When you think of the audience that companies in the outdoor industry must reach, you might think social media is one of the last places any adventure seeking, nature-loving, outdoor enthusiast would look to find that one brand to become extremely loyal to. So why would outdoor companies invest marketing in social media? The fact is that over 80% of Americans have a social media profile, according to Statista. And while all of us who love the outdoors would choose a day in the woods over looking at our laptop screens or cell phones, most of us do have at least one social media profile and love to share our adventures with our followers. The outdoor industry has done an amazing job at utilizing social media to grow their following, while not losing the reason they all began.
Companies in the outdoor industry, whether they sell clothes and gear or provide people with the opportunity to experience unforgettable adventures, have found a way to market their brands on social media without making it seem like you’re even seeing an advertisement.
One way they do this is through the use of ambassadors. Most outdoor companies have ambassadors that represent their brand by getting awesome shots of them climbing, hiking, white water rafting, kayaking, or doing any other activity outdoors while using the company’s products. Then these photos can be used in various social media platforms. These pictures aren’t usually just photos of the person doing the activity they are passionate about, but the photos are taken in a way to make the viewer feel that they are experiencing the same joy of the activity as well. This draws the viewer in and makes them want to see more. Outdoor companies do advertise their products directly but very rarely nowadays. Now it is more important to make your audience experience your product rather than simply seeing your product.
Another way that the outdoor industry has strengthened their social media presence is by making their customers feel included and invested in the company. Many outdoor companies will not only use photos from their ambassadors, but will also use photos posted by many of their customers. Companies leverage the use of hashtags to help them find great pictures of their customers using their products and loving them. Then the next thing you know, your picture of you at the summit of Mount Elbert in Colorado is being featured on REI’s Instagram. This creates a sense of belonging and like you and the other REI customers are all one big outdoor adventuring family. This strategy has helped many outdoor companies develop very strong brand loyalty with their customers.
While this is a start at the look into what the outdoor industry is doing with social media, it’s not all that these companies do. Each and every company has their own social media strategy and has put their own little twist on how they plan to grow and spread their brand. Over the next few weeks we will dive in to how social media and digital marketing is used in various companies within the outdoor industry; we will look at large companies, smaller companies, and even a couple of startups to see what they may do similarly and what they do differently from each other.
*Statistic can be found here: https://www.statista.com/statistics/273476/percentage-of-us-population-with-a-social-network-profile/