It’s the summer of 2023, and vertical video is king on social media. As we scroll the halls of social, we’re seeing more outfitters embrace video, with positive results. For those who are still adjusting to this new content strategy or who need some new ideas, we have asked some of our members to share what’s working for them as they embrace Instagram reels and TikTok to market their outdoor business.
OARS - Whitewater Rafting
“Our best social media successes in recent months have been with vertical video on Instagram. We aim to post 1-2 new reels per week and have found that focusing on short clips, often less than 20 seconds featuring peak moments of action, perform the best. Our top reels this year, all featuring scenes of guides and guests crashing through whitewater, have garnered thousands of organic views, 3-4 times more interactions than photo or carousel posts and a decent number of new followers. We've recently also started to work YouTube Shorts into our social media and email marketing strategy, repurposing reels that have performed well for us. The hardest part of vertical video is curating a steady flow of new content or finding existing assets that will work in this format that don't need extensive editing."
-Cari Morgan, Content Marketing Manager
Noah's Ark Whitewater Rafting & Adventure Co.
“The adventures that we do here at Noah's Ark, such as whitewater rafting, 5 day backpacking trips, rock climbing, aerial park adventures, fly fishing, etc. are frankly, all activities most people have never done. We have found that our audience interacts most with our posts that help them visualize themselves in that activity. Reels prove more effective in our social media strategy, as they allow us to guide viewers through the experience with a first-person perspective, making a daunting adventure more approachable. We show them what to expect in specific rapids, on day 2 of backpacking, checking in to a morning rafting trip, and other exciting AND mundane things.”
-Smokey Frazier, Marketing Director
“Our strategy starts with aiming to make videos that inspire people to get outside. I think of the reasons why people choose to explore the outdoors with us, and I create videos that spark that desire. For our company, I prioritize beautiful landscapes and people enjoying them. I don't focus much on "tips" or "how-to" type videos. I'll look for trending audio that is in the low thousands, between 1,000 and 5,000 uses. Then, I'll create videos around that. I try not to mention our services in the video, leaving that for the caption. This makes the video more relatable for whoever views it.
Tiktok is where we want to expand next, although we haven't put much time into it yet. We've mainly been focusing on solidifying and growing our Instagram presence.”
-Marina Neal, Guide & Outdoor Educator
Santa Barbara Adventure Company
"Vertical videos have definitely been more of a focus for SB Adventure Co over the past couple of years and we've seen some good traction with this type of content. With a modest budget, Instagram Reels and Story Ads have consistently increased website traffic and bookings. Getting the perfect content is key here though. We are very fortunate to live in a gorgeous region, so it certainly helps to make that a focal point in many of our posts. In collaborations with content creators and influencers who have targeted audiences, we have been featured in a few viral Reel posts that resulted in significant traction. We look to trends for inspiration on new ideas, but authenticity is number one; so we only participate in trends that align with our brand. I don't know anyone who doesn't enjoy an extra laugh throughout the day, so humor is always a good approach :). We've recently started a TikTok account. Not seeing as much engagement yet, but it's also not much extra work to post the same content on more than one channel just in case."
-Will Adams, Marketing Manager
Echo Canyon River Expeditions
“Around 70% of our website traffic is coming from mobile devices, a 9% increase from last year. With mobile usage continuing to outpace desktop users by over two to one, the decision to lead with vertical video on social platforms was a simple one. It's clear this is the device of choice for our client base.
Our social content strategy continues to adapt as we learn from both successful and unsuccessful posts. Less corporate-esque style reels and short videos tend to garner the most positive reactions and sharing by followers. Videos that are a little rougher cut, timely with current events, and focus on the front-line staff and their personalities and lifestyle are what our followers seem to be interested in consuming these days.”
-Ben Sack, General Manager
River & Trail Outfitters
“My main goal in social media marketing is to create a sense of "I want to go there and do that." in people who view and engage with our content. Three different types of reels have proven to be the most successful for us in terms of views and engagement. Showcasing the scenery that guests experience on our river trips consistently performs well. Reels that display guests enjoying their trip allows social media users to connect with our content on a more personal level. The last type of reel that I have found to be successful are reels that are funny and follow current trends. The engagement on these reels tends to be higher than our average reels; I try to post one funny or trendy reel each week.”
Both our engagement and views are higher on Instagram than Tiktok. For our Tiktok account only being a month old, we are still seeing pretty decent levels of views and engagement.”
-Mariah Baihly, Marketing Manager River & Trail Outfitters