REI: More than just a big box store

I am a huge fan of REI. In general, I think that the business has a great mindset; they want to make getting outdoors fun and easy for people. Their employees are very knowledgeable and they have a great return policy, what more is there to love? Their Facebook page proves to be a valuable asset to the business. Not only does the business maintain open lines of communications with users, but their page shows a lot of valuable information to potential customers. Using GPS technology, REI’s Facebook page displays the closest locations as well as a 1-800 number and a link to their website. The content is very rich and powerful. Their wall is full of beautiful photos from REI as well as user contributions.

The most recent promotion that REI ran wasn’t a campaign to sell anything to customers. In fact, it was the complete opposite. This Thanksgiving, REI did the unthinkable-they closed all of their stores on Black Friday and paid their employees to get outside. They welcomed the public to do the same and developed a following with the hashtag #optoutside. Their Facebook page shows great contributions from customers from the adventures on Black Friday. By choosing to opt outside this past week, REI showed that a love of the outdoors is what really matters, not fanatical shopping trips to spend, spend, spend. I think that this campaign was iconic and will hopefully continue in years to come.

Visit REI on Facebook

My favorite Instagram account that I am following is Osprey Packs. They are the best because they show great content and actually re-post user content. They aren’t directly trying to sell to their followers-they simply post photos that focus on the beauty found in nature and reflect on their love for the outdoors. It is really amazing to see some of the remote images captured. What is even cooler, is that I know that the people in those photos got to those breathtaking locations with the help of the Osprey product line. Again, not every post has their product but it is nice to know that they stand behind getting outside and exploring.

They have a link on their Instagram page that routes users to a Chacos contest “The more The merrier.” It is great to see these businesses support each-other as well as the love of the outdoors.

Click here to view Osprey’s Instagram Page

Of all the emerging social networking sites, I think that marketers should pay close attention to Instagram and the potential it provides via their paid advertisements. In its early creation, Instagram only allowed certain companies to advertise with them. Over time, it has grown and more and more companies are hopping on the bandwagon. What is great about advertising with Instagram is that the post has a truly native feel. It is seamlessly integrated into a user’s feed but the only differing quality is that instead of a time stamp, the ads read “sponsored.” As a user of Instagram, I find that these ads spice up my feed and generate more potential interests. As a marketer, I think that this is a great addition to a growing social networking site and I hope to see more companies successfully utilizing it.

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