Scratching our own itch
Every company has a genesis story. Nike made shoes using a waffle iron. Adventure film pioneer Warren Miller made his first film while living in a parking lot. Patagonia founder Yvon Choinard built his own climbing gear in a shed because he couldn’t find it anywhere else.
Often the best businesses (and certainly the best stories) begin when a person solves their own problem—when they scratch their own itch. That is exactly how Animas Media came to be.
SEEING OPPORTUNITY IN A PROBLEM
Animas Media founder and president John Trousdale has vast experience working in the outdoor industry. He’s owned a video production company, an independent TV station, and built a social media partnership between twenty-one ski resorts in Colorado. But Animas Media’s story began while Trousdale was running the social media department for a legendary American outdoor brand beginning in 2014.
While leading this social media team, Trousdale faced a challenge. The brand was launching a new line of athletic apparel, but unlike most of the company’s technical lines, this one was not built using input from the company’s roster of professional athletes and guides, which meant Trousdale couldn’t use their content nor advocacy in the new launch.
This created a problem. The new line was aimed at outdoor training and fitness, but it was unclear who would serve as the credible authority in the space. Despite this uncertainty, the content needed to be produced. Trousdale needed to raise awareness and meet deadlines.
With the launch date looming, he turned to a new breed of ambassadors: social media influencers. They were authentic. They were credible. And they were creating amazing content.
PLANTING A GRASSROOTS SEED
Around ten Instagram influencers were activated for the product launch. The line’s campaign was comprised of female micro-influencers based in the Pacific Northwest—a nod to the brand’s heritage. Influencers were given gear and a hashtag and asked simply to do what they do best.
Within a month, influencers had made over thirty posts, receiving tens of thousands of clicks and hundreds of thousands of impressions. Instagram users quickly adopted the hashtag. The results were clear. Of all the brand’s posts, the ones including the influencer content became the highest performing content to date. Simply put, social media influencers had not only saved the day but had scored a huge win.
EDIT, ITERATE, AND AMPLIFY
Over the following years, Trousdale led his team in creating one of the outdoor industry’s most impactful social media influencer programs. Campaigns grew from a month-long plan to three, then five, then year-round. The brand used new social networks and deepened relationships with influencers. Younger consumers began to see the company—a brand they may have associated with their dad—pop up in the feeds of their favorite accounts. They began to follow, and they began to buy.
During this period the retailer led their competitive set in a number of key performance indicators. They won Pinterest during the highly competitive fourth quarter in 2015. Their Instagram audience was the fastest growing of the outdoor industry’s top brands, with one of the highest average engagement rates. Internally, the social media program was continually setting and breaking its own records.
FINDING WHITE SPACE IN THE MARKET
As social media influencer and micro-influencer marketing became more mainstream in the outdoor industry, trends emerged and issues became evident. Influencers and content creators weren’t being recognized for the value they delivered. Pay-for-post programs discredited both influencers and brands alike. Brands were handing their influencer programs to their agencies, who were treating them as just another media placement rather than as partners. Perhaps worst of all, savvy consumers across the internet were rolling their eyes at inauthentic content.
Seeing the opportunity in these problems, Trousdale realized that the same strategies and tactics that had helped him build a leading program for one brand would work for others. Brands would win, influencers would win, and consumers would win. There was an opportunity to bring best-in-breed influencer marketing to the outdoor industry and to better serve the entire audience.
SCRATCHING THE OUTDOOR INDUSTRY’S ITCH
In 2016, Trousdale founded Animas Media. The company brings winning influencer strategy and tactics to the outdoor industry, serving brands, influencers, and consumers. The company also supports the lifeblood of the industry through programs that give back to the outdoors, our environment, and the public land we all depend on to recreate.
- Animas Media
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