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Facebook Change Outdoor Hunting and Firearms Industry

What Facebook’s News Feed Change Means For Firearms & Hunting Marketing

By Firearms and Hunting

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced last night that it’s making a significant change to its News Feed in the coming months that will ultimately affect brands and publishers in every industry—including the firearms and hunting industry.

Firearms and most hunting brands have been banned from advertising on Facebook since late 2015. We’ve been shunned by the platform in more ways than one. So why does this change matter and what are the implications for business owners, publishers, and marketers?

In a Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg wrote: “recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands, and media — is crowding out the personal moments [from friends and family] that lead us to connect more with each other.”

Explaining, however, that recently “video and other public content have exploded on Facebook … [and] since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other.”

Zuckerberg also goes on to talk about mental health issues associated with the news feed stating: “We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being…the research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long-term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.”

Zuckerberg states users will see “less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media” and that he expects “the time people spend on Facebook … will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable.”

 


How does this affect your brand?

As a result of this algorithm change, your Followers may see even less of your stories, product announcements, giveaways, videos or any other piece of firearm or hunting content — unless it’s engaging.  For many smaller brands and publishers, this will result in a further drop in visibility, reach, engagement, website traffic, readership and therefore revenue.

 

Facebook organic reach

 

We see in this chart above that even if a business page was doing a super job with its content in 2011, only 26 percent of their followers would see its posts. Today, the organic reach for an average business is less than 1 percent. (Source: Business Grow)

 

So what can you do to counter potential reach declines?

Facebook’s Head of News Feed Adam Mosseri offers some suggestions: “Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities. In Groups, people often interact around public content. Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events. And news can help start conversations on important issues.”

A bit of good news out of all this, (based on Mosseri’s above statement) is that the outdoor, hunting and firearms industry is an affinity culture — filled with publishers, influencers, celebrities and out-spoken characters who are highly active in discussion on Facebook. From gun guys to huntresses — our customers typically and enthusiastically share content and discuss new products and topics with their networks that sparks the “meaningful discussions” Zuckerberg is trying to instigate.

Since Facebook’s new algorithm will prioritize posts that drive authentic discourse (i.e. engagements: comments, likes, and shares), brands should start listening to their audience and tailoring content to their interests. That way, users can engage organically and brands can earn boosted social rankings in an authentic way. Intelligent marketers should see this as an opportunity. (Source: HubSpot)

According to Social Media Today: “Your key focus will likely need to switch to engagement, on generating interactions amongst those in your audience. That means Pages will need to dedicate more time to responding to comments, in addition to scheduling posts; to engaging in Groups, in addition to maintaining their own Pages. There’s no cover-all answer, it’ll be the cumulative impact of various efforts, but generating conversation will be key.”

Like all disruption, other media channels and solutions will emerge due to this change. We’ve already seen other brands in the industry launch podcasts, apps, groups and move to lesser-known social media channels to communicate online with their customers.

As marketing pundits continue to weigh in, one point of agreement is that brands and publishers need to keep creating engaging content. What the future holds today is anyone’s guess. More time is needed to analyze this change and for business owners and marketers to adjust their strategies. 

This will undoubtedly be a topic of debate for marketers at SHOT Show next week.  

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

firearm marketing facebook

5 Ways to Build Your Firearm Company’s Facebook Audience

By Firearms and Shooting

 

There are almost 2 billion users on Facebook, that’s billion with a “B.” As a firearm manufacturer, you can’t pay-advertise to any of them—nope, zip, nada. And to make matters worse, with Facebook’s new algorithm—only 2% of your audience will ever see the posts you upload.

If you’ve looked at the rules or supposed “guidelines,” they can leave you scratching your head when it comes to firearm advertising. Even I admit, there isn’t a clear understanding of what you can and can’t do. Can you advertise optics if they are on an AR? What about safes with firearms in them? Apps? I’ve reached out to Facebook with these questions and scoured other’s request to no avail. So in this article, I want to give you a few safe and simple “organic” alternatives on how to build your Facebook audience without getting your account suspended.

Why you shouldn’t ignore Facebook.
Right now, we are in a moment in time where brands made today through digital channels will be around for the next 50-100 years. It’s been deemed by some in digital marketing circles as the “second golden age of advertising,” because of advertisers’ ability to accurately target millions of prospective customers with a high degree of detail and precision for low-cost. On Facebook, if you don’t sell firearms or ammo, you can potentially reach thousands of potential customers for only a $20 boost. 

According to Gary Vaynerchuk of Vayner Media, most Fortune 500 brands have yet to figure this out, exemplified by their continuous spend on traditional mass media tactics like print and T.V. But this will all soon change as they figure out that digital offers a better way to advertise to their target audiences for greater effectiveness. You’ll start to see Facebook advertising costs go through the roof just like they did with Google PPC.

So with a goldmine of potential customers on the line, and like a dog trying to get at a woodchuck in the woodpile—how can you harness Facebook to build your brand, audience, drive contacts and customers to your website or dealers if you’re in the firearms industry?

 

1. Build your followers through email marketing
If your firearm or hunting website is not asking your visitors to signup for your newsletter, special offers or promotions, you’re potentially losing out on an opportunity to build a viable email marketing list as well as add followers to your Facebook page. In every email you send, you should be incentivizing or asking your subscribers to follow you on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and the burgeoning network SnapChat.

 

2. Harness Twitter
Twitter is probably the easiest network to build. All you have to do is tweet—and tweet often. Tweet out your photography, videos and blog posts 5-10x a day using hashtags like #firearms, #optics, #hunting or other content specific tags based on your customer’s interests for people to find you. When you receive a new follower, follow them back and ask them to follow you on Facebook. It’s amazing how fast you can build your network just through this tactic alone. Stag Arms is a prime example on how to use Twitter.

 

3. Incentivize User-Generated Content
Probably the most useful tactic in digital marketing is to instigate user-generated content (UGC) from your current followers. A study by Reevoo found that “70% of consumers place peer recommendations and reviews above professionally-written content.”

Prospective customers are much more likely to buy from you when they see others using and promoting your product—especially if you’re trying to reach Millennials. This act of “customer-submitted” content is highly shareable and credible. By getting your followers to generate videos and then share your posts with their network on Facebook, you have the potential to exponentially grow your following.

When you have followers that comment, like and share your content, reward them in some way, so they keep doing it. People share content based on their interests, what they want the world to know about them and sometimes to make them look smarter or better in some way. You may want to send them a coupon, patch or something else to show them your appreciation. You can potentially build an entire UGC marketing program on this strategy alone.

 

4. Content via Blogs/Videos
If you’re not engaging in some form of content marketing, you’re missing out on adding real value to your followers and a chance to build trust and start a dialog with your followers—not to mention tapping into rich organic search traffic to attract even more fans. When writing your blog posts or videos, add social signals to the top of your blog posts to help readers share. Answer questions directly on Facebook and use it as a virtual department store.

Mark Zuckerburg, Facebook’s Founder and CEO, who is rumored to be somewhat a hunter, because he “prefers only to eat meat he kills”—predicts by 2020 90% of content online will be video. If you haven’t begun experimenting with video, you’re already falling behind. 4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it. (Source: Animoto)

 

5. Tap Small to Medium Industry Blogger Audiences and Influencers
Another overlooked aspect of the firearm industry is partnering with blogging sites with small to medium sized audiences. By submitting guest (or paid) posts commonly known as native advertising and getting these publishers to share your content with their audiences, you can potentially reach a larger audience.

And you can always take the influencer route where you can compensate popular industry shows like 4GuysGuns, The Gun Collective, IraqVet8888 and Hickok45 to share your content as well—either as an ad, review or video reel highlight.

It’s not easy to market in the firearms industry, and it will take more creativity, ingenuity and the adoption of other up and coming platforms and alternative “gun-specific” social networks to reach your prospective customers. Things are constantly changing, but one thing is for certain—Facebook is not going away anytime soon.

Contact us for a free digital marketing consultation and how we can help you be more effective on social media.

 

Brand Loyalty Customer Retention

7 Ways To Build Brand Loyalty Through Customer Retention

By Brand Development

Business owners of small-mid sized B2C companies—or entrepreneurs getting their enterprise off the ground—know that there are certain things that must be done in order to guarantee long-term success. The things that have brought success in the past must continue—and improve over time. This typically revolves around acquiring more customers and retaining the ones you currently have.

However, we sometimes—in the hustle and bustle of running our businesses—loose sight and take our eye off the ball of managing our customer retention programs. We tend to rely heavily on our products superiority, thinking that if we deliver a great product, customers will follow. When this type of thinking occurs, it’s easy to get off track. And before you know it—customers begin to bail.

According to Bain and Co., a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%. And if those numbers don’t impress you, Gartner Group statistics tell us that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers. 

Still not sold on customer retention?

One final statistic provided by Lee Resource Inc. should give you plenty to think about: Attracting new customers will cost your company 5 times more than keeping an existing customer. (Source: Forbes)

In order to retain your customers and build brand loyalty, here are 7 things to keep in mind.

1. Do not over promise
It’s really easy in your marketing communications to bolster your value propositions that make your audience think that what you’re offering is the next best thing to sliced bread. Take extra care not to over promise your products key differentiators in an attempt to make your packaging and marketing more powerful. Focus on creating a brand image and supplement that with a message that doesn’t over promise to your customers.

If you can’t deliver on it, don’t promise it. And remember the old adage: “Under promise, over deliver.”

customer retention blackberry2. Cutting corners can be disastrous
In 2011, Blackberry’s (RIM) entire network of 70 million customers went down. This happened because Blackberry did not adequately prepare for their customers increased demand for video streaming.

Industry insiders and former RIM staff say the company has been storing up problems for years through its approach to its system – and the outage was only to be expected.” (Source: The Gaurdian)

At some point, someone at RIM decided not to invest in new system upgrades most likely in attempt to save some money.

This cost Blackberry its brand and plenty of marketshare (10% in 2011 now down to only 1% in 2015) (Source: Business Insider)

Blackberry’s demise could have been avoided by not cutting corners and keeping a better eye on what their customers wanted.

3. Keep it simple
We all love Apple because their products are simple. In our fast-paced, I have no-time, gotta-run world—you must simplify your products and services in order for them to be relevant. Anything that requires an extensive learning curve, or a lot of time to figure your product out—will be given up on and lost in the noise. 

Keep your products simple. By removing as many extra steps as possible—you will provide a better product experience to your customer. It will also help you simplify your communications. 

brand loyalty4. Invest in your brand 
I bought a GPS/heart rate monitor a few years ago for $500 plus tax—a big investment for my triathlon training requirements. Through the course of my use, the face got scratched making it unreadable, the watchband broke several times and I had to replace the heart rate monitor strap 4 times. I decided to keep reinvesting in it, because to replace it would have cost me even more money. I logged onto to the products support site and found people having the same problems, but I still hung on to it. 

When I initially purchased the watch—I thought the brand was superior to that of its competitors and that it would give me an edge in my training. I knew I was buying the Mercedes of training watches—but in the end, I was disappointed and worse of all—angry. If the watch came with guaranteed product support and replacement, it may have sat a little better with me, even though I felt cheated, I didn’t desert the brand, and gave it three more chances. 

brand loyaltyThe lesson here is, by investing in brand development that positions your brand as superior—you can potentially retain your customers, even if they become unhappy. If you asked a Mercedes owner why they keep driving a car that needs to go to the shop for repairs every other month, they’d tell you: “because Mercedes is the best.” 

5. Provide over-the-top customer service
If you’ve ever been overcharged for something you know that it needs to be resolved right away. If you have to make your customers search for a customer service number and then give them a foreign speaking service rep who could care less about your problem, this will definitely cause customers to become angry. Over the top customer service must be provided at all times.

A great example of a company that provides over-the-top customer support is an enterprise hosting company called Rackspace. Their tagline: “Fanatical Support” says it all. They give their customers the assurance they need that when something goes wrong—you can get someone on the line right away and get an answer on the spot. Because of companies like Rackspace, the customer service paradigm has shifted. Everyone expects great customer service. 

6. Utilize social media to stay in contact
If your customers subscribe to your Facebook feed, they want to hear from you. By implementing an inbound marketing strategy you’ll have plenty of interesting content to share that keeps your customers engaged, informed and delighted. See the free resource below on more information about attracting customers with Facebook. 

If you’re not utilizing social media to build a following for your products, you’re missing a huge opportunity to drive traffic and increase revenue.

7. Let them know you’re thinking about them
It also doesn’t hurt to budget some perks for your customers from time to time. Not all marketing spend has to be on advertisements, direct mail and tradeshows. A great example happened to me a few months ago. I received a letter from Southwest Airlines for 4 free drinks next time we fly—that don’t expire till the end of this year. Next time I fly—guess who I’m booking with? Southwest.

It’s the little things that can make your customers very happy.

In conclusion, to build brand loyalty and retain your customers, don’t over promise or cut corners. Keep it simple, build a brand that holds on to them, provide over-the-top customer service, utilize social media to stay in contact and let them know you’re thinking about them once in a while.

How to Attract Customers with FacebookFree Download:
How to Attract More Customers with Facebook

Believe it or not, Facebook isn’t just for cat photos, news articles, selfies, and ads. Businesses like yours can actually generate customers from Facebook – as long as you’re using the right approach.

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.