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So, what makes a good social media strategy now that we all need one?

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The events of 2020 mean no angling brand can afford to ignore the power of social media. But how to make it work? Whether you have already fully embraced it or have yet to form a coherent strategy, for the year ahead it pays to heed the lessons of marketeers at pioneering brands. Their advice? Be flexible, be patient, be respectful of consumers – and be imaginative.

Thomas Sanotra
Director of Product and Marketing, Svendsen Sport

We already had several dedicated social media specialists in the business before I arrived here 20 months ago. These people are quite rare because it is not easy to find a good angler who is well educated in this area. Our spend on social media is only going up. It tops the agenda as far as marketing is concerned. We can get data and prove what we are doing makes sense. We can make a correlation between campaigns and the sales they generate, particularly with key accounts. Magazines remain important but they are more of a gut feel.

Our social media presence is not only strong on our own channels, with more than 3.5 million followers across our brands, but also amongst our pro-staff team. When launching new product, we are in close contact with pro-staffers eager to talk about the tackle they have been testing. Their passion for the brands shines through because they have been part of the development, testing and launch process. Cross-posting with key retailers to support sales is another area we think is important because while some retailers have a good social media presence, other smaller retailers do not always have the experience or manpower to execute a comprehensive campaign. It is our job to create the hype that echoes through the shops. It is not just about selling them products, but also helping them sell it to their customers.

The effectiveness of posts varies. Some go viral and sometimes we can figure out why and sometimes we can’t. It is complex and there is still a lot to understand. One Savage Gear video reached ten million views in just a few weeks. The effect of this clearly boosts visitors to our website and also helps direct sales in shops. Some things work on one form of social media and not on another. We have also learnt that local content rules. We need to be local with everything we do. People want to know what is happening in their own areas. Not many anglers travel far on a regular basis. While the use of social media is growing, it is hard for small companies to do it well when only a limited percentage of their business comes from different countries. They just don’t have the muscle to make it work.

Stephen McCaveny
Marketing Manager, Daiwa Sports

The creation and output of native content for social media has certainly grown in importance throughout the industry. The primary source is of course dedicated content creators that companies are developing or recruiting, but an important supplement of content is from sponsored anglers, consultants and associates such as media titles. We have been investing in the use of social media and fully expect that spend to grow, not especially as boosted posts but in production output and in-house effort in the creative application too; more people, more hours.

Measuring success or making a definitive sales correlation to a specific campaign has to embrace factors other than just social media. Its role has certainly continued to become bigger and is usually the first platform to trigger awareness. The mistake many make is to expect definitive effect from a single specific action. It can happen, but sustained influence often has to come from a mix of actions over a period of time. There are a variety of analytics at your disposal, but you need to consider the data with a critical eye. Engagement level (and location), relevance of the content and frequency of your activity matter most.

We have experienced key learnings over time. Yes, keep up with the constantly changing distribution mechanics (algorithms) as best you can and tailor your content accordingly. Ensuring there is a tone of independence behind some share of any communications goes a long way too. Daiwa still value relationships with media titles.

What works? A broad mix of actions, with a variety of sources, even embracing third party voices, is far more effective. What doesn’t work? Relying upon square-minded, pure corporate output, via one or two channels, is a no go. Yes, you will get effect, but limited.

Simon Henton
Director Sales and Marketing, Zebco Europe

Social media specialists are certainly growing in importance in the industry. Content creators, whether videographers, still photographers or copy/text writers are an increasingly important part of delivering the brand and product message to the angler. At Zebco Europe, we anticipate that investment in social media will continue to grow in the future. Whilst the angler continues to consume ever-increasing amounts of information from social media, they are becoming less tolerant of poor quality content. That puts pressure on us to create content of higher and higher relevance and quality, which in the end costs more money. Inevitably that will be at the expense of something else, not just by saving money in other areas of the business, but, for some companies, through increased prices for the angler to cover the additional cost.

One of the advantages of social media is that we can measure the success of campaigns and you can make a correlation with sales, far more so than with non-digital promotional campaigns. The use of hyperlinks and tracking cookies allows companies to measure the reach and impact of campaigns. And modern targeting means you are only promoting the content in the geography you want, or to the user group you have identified. One of the key learnings for us has been the importance of having a clear strategy for what we are trying to achieve. It is not about the number of likes or shares. It is about anglers buying your products. Some things work better than others, but that’s for us to know, and the rest of the world to find out.

Dave McCartney
EMEA Marketing Manager, Pure Fishing

Have social media specialists become more important? 100% they have. The shift to digital has been so quick that a lot of people in our industry have been caught out. Two years ago my marketing budget was a very different profile to today. I have just written my budget for next year and we will see a substantial investment in this area.

We have a dedicated social media manager and an assistant whose only focus is working on social media, gathering content and seeking new trends and technologies to improve our offering. We measure the success of every campaign, trying to improve each one by taking key learnings from the last one. We use monitoring software to analyse the data and compare versus week/month/year/brand etc. and we do see a correlation with sales.
We don’t sell directly to the consumer, but through analysis on search engines and through retailers’ anecdotal feedback we know that demand for the products we focus on is on the increase and that consumers are actively seeking out product they have seen on our channels.

“The shift to digital has been so quick that a lot of people in our industry have been caught out. Two years ago my marketing budget was a very different profile.”

We are constantly learning. Anyone who says their social media is perfect is lying. If we try an idea and it fails, we learn from it. Only by making some mistakes can we be better moving forward. A key thing for me is to treat the consumer with respect. Don’t assume anything and try to involve them as much as possible in your brand. I see many examples of how brands can be aloof. They are nothing without the consumer. Engaging content is the key, making it emotive for the angler and trying a mix of content. Bland pictures of product don’t normally work. You need to let the consumer feel they are part of it. Another hurdle is regionalisation. So for our Penn brand, for example, showing one of our pros in Norway holding a cod doesn’t spark the emotion of a tuna fisherman in Italy.

John Frazier
Manager PR, Content and Digital Marketing, Simms Fishing
Social media specialists are definitely growing in importance and value in the industry. In essence, social media is simple: a visually compelling video and/or photo accompanied by a clever/impactful caption. However, on a brand level, it’s more involved. Social media gives brands a platform to tell product stories, highlight cause-related efforts, promote conservation initiatives and share inspiring content.

Over time, all of this collective content has a way of humanising a brand. All of the visuals and captions give the brand a voice and reflect what it stands for. The people who manage the image of the brand have a big responsibility and there is incredible value in that. Social media lives in the hands of the vast majority of consumers and therefore it’s an important communication tool. Just like outdoor brands, as social media channels grow they also evolve. The bells and whistles that come with these evolutions offer users new ways to communicate with family, friends and, in the case of brands, consumers.

Measuring the success of campaigns depends on the campaign itself. Most often, success isn’t measured in terms of ‘likes’. That being said, it’s important to establish specific goals for each particular campaign before launch. Success metrics will always differ depending on the goals. As for what works and what doesn’t work, being authentic and ethical always wins.