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The Death of an Outdoor Industry Business on Social Media

Outdoor Industry Marketing | Investing in Your Business, Not Social Media

Jeremy Flinn, Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Stone Road Media, was a recent guest on the Bent and Ballistic Outdoor Show discussing social media marketing. This spawned from Mike McKnight’s, host of Bent and Ballistic Outdoor Show Podcast, interest in a recent blog Jeremy wrote titled “Why Your Business Will Die on Social Media”. A bold, but true statement from an outdoor industry marketing agency that lives in the realm of digital and social media marketing. The fact that businesses small and large operating with a consumer base primarily on social media channels are standing on an unstable foundation.

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“If you haven’t noticed a drop in organic activity on platforms like Facebook, then you likely didn’t have a very active business page to begin with. For those businesses who grew large followings on social media platforms and possibly even their bank accounts via incredible branding and product sales, the “heyday” is long gone. All of those who laughed when Facebook valued itself in the billions of dollars, yet was making no money, now have seen the grand plan unfold with even the smallest businesses “boosting” posts in hopes of reaching more customers. You can shake your head at it, but the over quarter TRILLION dollar valuation of the ZERO profit Amazon that you likely use regularly will likely pull a rabbit out of its hat soon as well in order to justify the number. Regardless, the bottom line is social media marketing is critical to every marketing strategy, but if used incorrectly it can cost businesses in the hunting and fishing sector more than just fans.”Jeremy Flinn, Why Your Business Will Die On Social Media

At the end of the day, a brand cannot control its own Facebook page. That page, who sees it, who engages with the content, or even what content can be posted is all controlled by Facebook. A business model with social media as the foundation of the business whether its Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., is far from stable.

Pay to Play

One of the main reasons social media is a big concern for the outdoor industry besides the lack of control is that at any time these channels can strip the ability to market your business away from you. In recent years the entire industry has seen this from a politically driven limit on hunting/weapon related content. However, it goes further than this by mandating through algorithms how many of your followers you as a business can organically reach with a post. Even with a great following and consumer base, you have to “pay to play”. This means that in order to reach an audience, you have to create a social advertisement or put money (boost) behind a post. Even with an extremely good following and a great engaging piece of content, Jeremy estimates that you might only reach 10-15% of your audience organically. From there the numbers plummet to 5% for content that does not spark engagement.

Jeremy continues to report that just last month, January 2018, Zuckerberg wrote 3-4 posts that could bring big impacts to businesses and specifically businesses in the outdoor industry. These changes revolve around Facebook’s algorithm. Essentially, if a post does not immediately start drawing organic engagement from a small portion of followers, the algorithm will shut down the post’s visibility to the rest of your followers. Click here to find out more about Facebook’s Recent Algorithm Change.

Why “pay to play” might be a quick fix for businesses outside of this industry, outdoor related businesses are running into an entirely different problem. Even when you agree to advertise on social media, these channels can still deny you the ability to market your business!

Restricted Content

Restricted content, you likely know or have dealt with this in recent years…so is it getting better or worse? Unfortunately, even once you agree to “pay to play” with social media advertising you are now entering policies that are…you guessed it, restricted! Guns, knives, bows, arrows, and basically anything weapon oriented means that Facebook has a right to deny the advertisement of that content.

The most concerning aspect of restricted content is that an actual human being is denying or approving each advertisement!

This means that the only thing standing between an outdoor industry business’s success or death on social media is an opinion…

Of course, you can challenge the post being restricted, often resulting in a “win” for that post, but restricted content means that you are flagged. A decision to ban your content now means that you have a higher likelihood of posting weapon related content again. This means that Facebook is profiling for weapons-related businesses, which as you know means hunting and outdoor related businesses. This is political influence directly affecting businesses. With organic traffic limited, and even social media advertising limited, where should an outdoor industry business turn?

What is the Solution?

Is this influence and content dampening just on Facebook? Jeremy reports that this impact is not seen on other channels like Twitter and Instagram as much due to the nature of those channels (limited content/characters). However, this could always change. The fact is that what brands and businesses are currently experiencing with Facebook, could happen to any and all social media platforms. It could also happen with platforms like YouTube, staple foundations for many businesses with video content.

Jeremy explains that the only solution to get around this is to invest in yourself, not these channels. Invest in marketing that results in users coming directly to where your business lives, the website. You control your website, so investing in content that lives there is investing in a solid foundation. Social media is and will always be a place the consumer lives, just accept that social media marketing only supports for your business, not a platform your business should be completely dependent on.

Want to learn more about social media marketing, digital marketing, or outdoor industry marketing in general? Read more blogs or contact Jeremy today for help in marketing your outdoor industry business.

Facebook’s New Algorithm and What it Means for Your Business

Social Media Marketing | Tips for Creating the Perfect Facebook Post

By: Brianna Harr, SRM Local Account Manager

Facebook has long prided itself in being a community, not a media company, and has made changes in the past to reinforce this idea. Recently, the social media giant has released a statement announcing another change to its newsfeed algorithm, one that will directly affect the reach of your business’s Facebook page. As a marketing agency, we have been following the changes and wanted to put a few tips together for any business currently struggling with changes in the algorithm.

Up until this change, Facebook promised to “help you find relevant content” by showing posts from pages you might like and prioritizing posts from pages you like and follow. The new goal is to help to foster “more meaningful interactions” with friends and family. So, rather than your feed being dominated by content from brands and businesses, your feed will be comprised mostly of posts from friends, family, and groups you are a member of.

What Does this Mean for Your Business?

Pieces that spark conversation will be more important than ever before. However, Facebook will not be as lenient with what they call “engagement bait”, posts using language like “tag and share”, and will penalize pages who utilize that strategy. This means there will be a stronger push for more engaging, quality content from brands and businesses, accompanied by a need for them to really listen and pay attention to what their audiences are interested in. Focus on originality over repetition in every post.

Social Media is First and Foremost “Social”

With these changes going into effect soon, how should you adjust your social media strategy to counteract that inevitable drop in engagement?

Be sure to approach the customer in a tone and style you would use face-to-face. No one wants to engage with something sterile or generic. Find your voice! While doing this, take advantage of the real-estate Facebook provides. Facebook is one of the only platforms where your characters aren’t very limited. In fact, there are 63,206 characters up for grabs! While this may seem like a daunting number, have no fear. You don’t need to use every single one. In fact, you shouldn’t even come close.

Keep it Short and Sweet!

Writing a six paragraph post will have your readers’ eyes glazing over before they finish the first one. You can throw in a #hashtag here and there, but be careful with how often you use them! Ask questions, encourage feedback, start a conversation. Use links where an engaged user can learn more. Just don’t backload the links in your content! Make sure relevant content is shown first. It is best to use two links at most and try to use link shortening trackers, like Bit.ly, to avoid wasting visual space.

Pictures are Worth a Thousand Words

Including images or videos in your posts is a sure fire way to get people’s attention. Posts with images receive the highest amount of engagement (50% more than those without!) and tend to be more noticeable than those with just text. In fact, you should be sure to use only enough text to get your point across with video or an image. The focus will be on that media and not reading the text as people have a tendency to skim their newsfeed.

In line with Facebook’s algorithm change, live videos will also be prioritized a little more as they are seen as “authentic and engaging” pieces of content. In fact, Facebook states that live videos receive 6x more engagement than non-live ones.

Keep Things Positive!

If you see someone constantly posting negative updates, you’re less likely to pay attention to them. This same principle can be applied to your business page. While some Facebook “rants” do see a good bit of engagement, this isn’t the type of message you want to associate with your business. Happier posts tend to attract meaningful responses, something Facebook will be looking for when prioritizing posts in your newsfeed.

Positivity breeds engagement!

Timing is Everything

Pay attention to the times at which you are posting your content. Studies show that the best time to post on Facebook is between 12 pm to 3 pm on weekdays and noon and 1 pm on weekends. People also tend to be happier on Fridays, with funny or upbeat content performing best on that day. These peak times tend to see the highest click-through rates. Don’t just post during business hours, either. Pay attention to when your audience engages the most. By doing so, you can pinpoint exactly when to send your next update to get the most feedback from your customers!

Be Engaging!

Most importantly, be sure to engage with your audience! By responding to comments, something that should be done in a timely manner, you start to build a close relationship with your clients. This also plays into the push for more meaningful interactions!

Conclusion

This isn’t the first time Facebook has made a change like this and it certainly won’t be the last. Rather than looking at this as a hindrance, use this as an opportunity to change direction with your social media strategy. Pay attention to what your audience is looking for and push for more quality content, and your engagement will be on the rise again in no time.

Need a marketing agency to give your social media content and syndication a boost? Contact us today!

Content Marketing | An Outdoor Industry Content Gap Is Growing, Which Side Are You On?

Outdoor Industry Marketing | The Authoritative Gap of Hunting,
Shooting, and Fishing Content Marketing

By: Weston Schrank
Stone Road Media’s Content Marketing Manager

The tables have turned, the smallest TV, manufacturing company, or web series show can beat out the big dogs of the hunting, shooting, and fishing industry with hard work rather than large budgets. They key to this is focused on digital media and inbound marketing. The playing field is level with these considered and it is a race for the authoritative title on any given topic, product, and sector in the industry. This is a big chance for anyone in the outdoor industry.

This is old news for hunting, shooting, and fishing content marketing. This gold nugget has been discovered and out for a while, but if this is news to you, unfortunately you are already falling behind, and the gap that is forming may be too big to jump.

So what’s the latest from our friend and your foe google? The hummingbird update, the fast, agile, in, and out pivotal change. Without paying attention to this many hunting, fishing, and shooting companies and brands that were once authorities, WILL BE ousted. Those not taking notice and applying to their digital media and digital content marketing will begin to free fall in reach, audience building, audience retention,  engagement, and eventually sales.

Let’s hash this wound open again, content is king, but authority is that “higher power in the sky”, it rules the content.

Content creators, their businesses, and brands that take note of the changes will take advantage of this, and an authoritative gap will be form. This gap will not be insignificant, but enormous, and once you are ahead it could be easy to stay ahead.

Which side of this gap will you be on?

What Your Business Needs to Know

  1. What Is the Gap and Why is it Important?

The facts behind this claim is that the hummingbird has asked for a lot more from your content creators and creative sector. The latest blog, article, web purposed TV episode, or you tube video have new requirements to give them power online to reach the audience. The purpose of hummingbird? When you begin to dissect and understand it the reason is clear.

It is separating the lifeless regurgitation posts from the spot-on authority on any given subject. Did your deepest fear just come true? If your content and content marketing strategy is this, basically your entire “Blog” or “Video” content of the site is nothing new or unique, it will lack authority and you will fall behind.

Why does all this matter to your business, brand, and/or product?

The world and this industry have gone digital, the most significant sentence of this article is this. “Your customer will seek you out online, so you need to give them exactly what they are searching for.” It is the premise behind the BE SEEN. BE FOUND. BE DIFFERENT of Stone Road Media. Customers will educate themselves before the buy, whether that buy is online or in the store. Those businesses and brands that give the information, detail, expert opinion, enjoyment, and influential piece on the subjects and topics related to their goals and objectives will beat out the competition. The actual change of hummingbird and its requirements and guidelines for new content will eventually create an authoritative content gap. This will stack your content as the top results for every search a customer types, related to your business.   Those top results will place your expert content in front of the competitions, causing a free fall.

If you’re already lost with this start, it may be easier to touch up on the basics of hunting, shooting, and fishing marketing.

  1. Be a Content Marketing Expert

We see immeasurable blogs, articles, and videos that are completely lifeless. They are sloppy regurgitations of an authoritative piece from another site, slapped on their site or You Tube channel, and posted on Facebook to be subsequently ignored by the intended audience.

What did they think would happen?

Fans, customers, and Google knows who and what the experts are. Those that are not will be slapped. Every piece of content needs to be correct, well executed or written, optimized, and syndicated.

If you only knew how much was and is changing and how fast this change and gap will occur, you would be embarrassed at the current content you are putting out and how you are marketing it.

  1. Go Beyond the Content

Redesign and rethink your strategy. The first step in the creative process and to any content creation is deciding on the topic. My main duties at Stone Road Media’s content manager completely focuses on content, obviously right? But this goes far beyond the piece of content and topic. I have a need to understand every other team member’s role, our company’s goals, the clients, their brand, their objectives, their customers and audiences, and ultimately put all of it into every single piece of content I create or review.

Every piece is tailored with a specific goal. This goes beyond brand-focused content and the sale. Is the piece designed for a company’s, client’s, or brand’s prospects (audience building) or actual customers? Am I framing the piece for seekers, or for retention? It will be small and broad, or specific and detailed, in either case the piece will be from an expert, well written, and optimized. Every piece is diverse, will include altered keywords, search terms, and objectives, but all structured around the overall end goal.

  1. The Content Goes Beyond You

Once the content is teed up and out the door, it is posted and unleashed on the site and to the audience. The next crucial step is social media marketing. This is not advertising but syndication. Content that is written or executed well, by an expert, syndicated across several social sites (not just Facebook and Twitter) but a continually growing number of platforms will be noticed. Once the process is repeated (literally weekly) over and over again, the authoritative-gap will form.

You will be ahead, and stay ahead.

2016 has come with some big changes that will be noticed by this industry! Do not fall behind, every company, brand, and product has competition, the top spot for every search related to your business is key. Do you have the content to bridge the gap?

An authoritative content gap will begin to form for every topic, subject, and product in the industry. You need to ask yourself,

“Which side of the gap you will be on?”

For more information on Stone Road Media’s digital media assistance and multi-faceted team, contact us today at info@stoneroadmedia.com.

Weston Schrank holds a BS in wildlife science and management. He has turned the obsession of outdoors and hunting, expertise in wildlife and land management, and understanding of specialized content creation and SEO into an excelling and devoted career as the content manager for Stone Road Media’s partners.