Case Study: What Patagonia Can Teach Us All.


Case Study: What Patagonia Can Teach Us All.

Living in CO, it’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t ADORE Patagonia. The company has a well-known image amongst the outdoor community that not only encapsulates high quality, but also delivers a sense of higher purpose, value driven connections that resonate with their target customer. Patagonia is an exciting brand with a lot of digital content, making it a fun but also challenging company to evaluate. While other brands can struggle with their social media strategy, Patagonia is consistently focused on delivering valuable content, which makes them exceptional.

Patagonia has done a beautiful job at sharing a wide variety of content that always ties back to their focuses on nature, outdoor activities and sustainability. Just to give you a taste… here’s a list of topics Patagonia covers on each of their social media pages…

  • Sourcing Indigo from farmers in Tennessee for their new denim line
  • Stories from their founder, Yvon Chouinard, and other influential outdoorsmen
  • Films about forest preservation, rock climbing and historic moments
  • All outdoor activities are featured including rock climbing, hiking, surfing, swimming, biking, skiing, camping, fishing and hunting
  • Political and inspirational subjects including the destruction dams cause on environments, encouraging citizens to vote, fair trade, reusing and repairing clothing, and public lands

On Patagonia’s website they provide links to their profiles on the following social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest, Vimeo, and YouTube. However, for this case study I will focus on only the most impactful platforms.

Instagram:

More than ever lately, Instagram is proving to be an extremely heavy hitter for brands trying to connect with their target audiences. Some in the digital marketing industry have been refocusing their efforts onto Instagram more so than before, as Facebook’s latest algorithm change has made it more difficult for business’s to create engagement on each post. Patagonia has 3.6 million followers on Instagram, more than double their Facebook audience! While scrolling through Patagonia’s profile, adventurous consumers are met with stunning photos and authentic inspirational stories that are relevant to their outdoor lifestyle.

As I looked back through Patagonia’s posts, I noticed that there has been an influx in video quantity since the end of August 2018 with nearly 1 of every 3 Instagram posts being a video. This dedication to video is admirable, especially with their Instagram posting cadence being nearly every single day. Just by scrolling through their most recent posts, Patagonia seems to have a consistent 25-80k likes and anywhere from 50-500 comments on each Instagram post.

It is important to point out Patagonia’s ability to post images with their products engrained into them, instead of simply posting product shots. In fact… I could barely find any pictures or videos with just the product being showcased. The only time Patagonia posts images of the product alone is when something new is being launched, like their updated Arbor Pack in July or Micro Puff jacket last September. The most recent example of Patagonia featuring a specific product is their #WhatsInYourBaggies campaign surrounding their popular “Baggie” men’s and women’s shorts. While this campaign specifically focuses on one product, Patagonia did a wonderful job at tying in the history of the “Baggie” short and also the stories that come with wearing these shorts tailored for outdoor activities.

Overall, Patagonia has an Instagram presence that sets the standards for not only outdoor brands, but also all companies looking to make an impact with their social media. They have mastered the art of developing content that is valuable for their target audience and they receive real engagement from followers tagging other friends and family members. The company has also perfectly meshed showcasing their products with actual stories and moments shared by their customers. However, one area I see potential improvement is through the use of influencers. I could not find any posts where Patagonia partnered with specific social media influencers, which is a bit of a bummer as this could provide a way for them to reach an even more specific audience members through trusted sources.

Facebook:

One big “no-no” I usually tell businesses is recycling the exact same content on every social platform. While it makes social media less time consuming and more manageable, it looks lazy and makes followers feel unimportant. Patagonia shares a lot of the same imagery from their Instagram page on their Facebook page, however they save themselves by changing the captions and also incorporating other content into the mix. Besides just posting pictures on Facebook, Patagonia shares longer videos, links to articles and also a ton of events associated with their brand such as movie screenings, free yoga classes, and running clubs.

Lately, Patagonia has been receiving about 200-700 likes and 5-25 comments on each post, which is sad based on their following of 1.3 million people. However, I feel confident giving them a bit of a hall pass right now as Facebook has made it nearly impossible for many large businesses to succeed engagement wise on their platform with recent algorithm changes. To put this dilemma into context, not very long ago Patagonia was constantly receiving between 8-18k likes on their posts… now they’re down to the hundreds. It’s a bummer to say the least.

Even as Facebook is currently treading water with company pages, Patagonia is doing the best they can. They consistently post a mix of imagery sent by consumers, professional videos, and articles relevant to their social justice initiatives. They really wowed me with their long list of events being held all over the world. The most important benefit Facebook provides Patagonia over Instagram is the ability to create and share events. Millennial consumers are obsessed with experiences, and even though Patagonia does a beautiful job at posting experiences through images and videos, creating events to attend is really the next step to developing a relationship between consumers and a brand. Trust me… I know this not only because of my marketing know-how, but also because I am a part of this millennial club. As I was analyzing Patagonia’s Facebook presence and stumbled upon a movie screening at our local downtown Denver Patagonia this weekend, I immediately sent the invite to my boyfriend and we have a date on the calendar. The attraction of these events is less about the products associated with the brand, but instead the community behind the brand tribe. Brands should admire Patagonia for their consistency in correctly answering the question, “What content would add value to the lives of our consumers?”

Twitter:

Twitter is a bit of a beast that I often encourage brands not to play with unless they have the means to keep up with it at all hours of the day. Patagonia is doing fine on Twitter in the sense that they have a good following base, 412k strong, and decent posts that help strengthen their referral traffic. Even the engagement with followers is pretty good with about 5-50 retweets and 100-1000 likes on each post. This is significantly better than many other big name brands, and I would attribute it to Patagonia’s stellar ability to deliver content people care about.

While many of their tweets are recycled from Facebook and Instagram, Patagonia also retweets quite a bit of content from other companies that align with their own values such as the Sierra Club, Outside Magazine, Earthjustice and Protect our Winters. These retweets often cover relevant news about nature, national parks, voting or conservation efforts. Patagonia has created a solid Twitter presence by making every post either newsworthy or interesting to their audience.

YouTube:

Last but not least, YouTube! Patagonia shares beautiful and meaningful video content on each of their social platforms, however their YouTube profile takes the cake. Patagonia has had a YouTube profile since 2006 allowing them to develop a bank of entertaining and educational video content for their target audience to explore. These videos tend to be longer than the ones shared on Facebook or Instagram and all tie back to the company’s focus on nature.

Not only does Patagonia utilize YouTube to educate viewers about nature and sustainability, they also have videos dedicated to educating consumers about each of their products. These product specific videos showcase each feature of the product and are meant to help consumers during the buying process. Patagonia believes their consumers should be well informed while making buying decisions for products they will be able to use for a very long time. The company’s YouTube profile is extremely useful for consumers and Patagonia keeps it updated consistently.

Recap

Patagonia has a wonderful digital presence and brand aura… shocking, I know! While this may not be news to any of us, completing this case study further proved the critical nature of not only having a personality behind your brand that makes consumers feel important, but also the implementation needed to deliver a thoughtful digital marketing strategy. Nothing Patagonia did on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube surprised me. The tactics they incorporated into their overall digital strategy are the exact same that we recommend to our clients. Because they work! Read more of our other case studiesto learn how other big name brands such as IBM and Nike are performing on social media.


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