Social Media Marketing Example #16: Patagonia

Here’s a little Tuesday Trivia for you – what do environmentalism, Argentina, and a Netty Dress have in common? Still stumped? Well, each is an embodiment of the eco-friendly provider of all your outdoor clothing/gear needs for climbing, hiking, surfing, running and travel: Patagonia. Patagonia has been making quality outdoor wear with minimal environmental harm since 1972 and has become a staple “green” company since before it was the cool thing to do. So, continuing with our series, 26 Social Media Marketing Examples in Detail, I’m going to take a mental vacation and vicariously explore the great outdoors of South America by venturing into Patagonia’s online expeditions.

So what has this Fortune Magazine-dubbed “Coolest Company on the Planet” been up to in the world of social media? Let’s take a journey to find out…

Besides making it far too easy for me to watch my hard-earned paycheck disappear, the Patagonia Web site also contains a wide array of informative, enlightening, and engaging tidbits on environmentalism, conservationism, and, well, humanism. There are multiple subpages that offer some really interesting content, however, they’re not very social/interactive, which was a little disappointing. One of the more engaging parts of the site is The Footprint Chronicles – this is something I haven’t really seen before, but essentially it’s an interactive tool that guides you along the journey from raw material to final distribution by selecting a particular clothing item and traveling across a map from California to Turkey and back to L.A. This provides consumers with a unique perspective and insight into the full production process, leaving no secrets – I dig that.

Other sections of the site include The Tin Shed, full of videos, photos and stories from Patagonia ambassadors worldwide. Interestingly, there is no way to submit your own tale. I discovered this social disconnect within the Environmental Essays section of the site as well. These essays are super interesting and informative, and I was particularly warmed by the beautiful tale of The Bear Who Crossed the Freeway. One thing I think could really make this section more interesting and engaging would be to incorporate some functionality for environmental enthusiasts to submit their own essays in the form of a competition. Readers could vote for their favorite story, and the winner could receive a Patagonia-sponsored adventure to their destination of choice. I guess the prize wouldn’t even have to be that extravagant, but such an opportunity could generate some truly inspiring stories.

The Cleanest Line

The Patagonia blog, The Cleanest Line, is a mere extension of the overall feel of the company and provides a wide array of targeted content that covers a variety of topics. The voice of the blog is very conversational, and there’s something for just about everyone with some level of interest in the outdoors and the environment. Something that I greatly appreciate about the blog is its open encouragement of a two-way dialogue between the Patagonia brand and consumers:

The goal of The Cleanest Line is to further Patagonia’s mission by encouraging dialogue about the products we build, the sports we love and the environmental issues we’re concerned about. By talking openly about the products we build, Patagonia users can help us achieve ever greater standards of quality and functionality. By spreading the word about specific environmental issues, we can increase awareness and take action as quickly as possible. By sharing field reports, we can inspire one another to keep experiencing the natural wonders of our precious planet. And like any good conversation, there’s always the possibility for pranksters and poets to direct the conversation towards territories lacking any seriousness whatsoever.


Patagonia on Twitter

As they say, variety is the spice of life, and there’s nothing I enjoy more on Twitter than discovering, viewing, and reading a little bit of everything. So in exploring Patagonia’s official Twitter account, @cleanestline, I’ve checked out a TwitPic of a California wildfire backlit by a sunset, discovered a DIY t-shirt company, and learned how to use rubber bands from sock packages to catch permit (turns out, they’re a type of fish…)! I guess what they’re doing works – I clicked “Follow” – but I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing a RT or @ message here and there.


Patagonia on YouTube

If you’re a surfing, fishing, climbing, or kayaking fanatic, the Patagonia YouTube channel is definitely for you. The channel houses 135 videos about virtually anything pertaining to the outdoors and sports, and there are even playlists that cater to specific interests for all your viewing pleasure. Despite only having 1,543 subscribers, these videos are also garnering views in the thousands and some upwards of 200K. Not too shabby, Patagonia. The most recently posted vid is shot/produced in a manner reminiscent of the dizzying Waking Life, and it gave me the sensation of actually wandering around the Sacred Craft Surfboard Expo (I’m such a sucker for SoCal).

Patagonia on Facebook

No time for jumping from the blog to YouTube and back to You might want to consider joining forces with their 8,373 Facebook fans. The Patagonia Facebook fan page doesn’t seem to offer any new, unique value to the brand or online conversation, but it does serve as a convenient hub of all-things Patagonia. It includes a steady flow of blog content, a tab for YouTube videos, links to sign up for the Patagonia newsletter, the Tin Shed, Footprint Chronicles, etc. A similar issue that I’ve noticed in other aspects of Patagonia’s online endeavors is the lack of obvious brand-to-consumer interaction. I’d like to see a few discussions sparked by the brand or possibly a persona representing the brand. It’s these seemingly simple, minor touches that really enhance the online experience for us consumers.

Final Thoughts

For a company comprised of outdoor, environmental enthusiasts, I was pleased with the level of online involvement the brand is currently supporting. They’ve definitely done an excellent job of providing consumers with a smorgasbord of interesting and relevant information pertaining to both sport and environment. What are your thoughts on Patagonia’s efforts in the world of social media? Do you see any particular opportunities for the brand to improve/expand its current endeavors? Let me know in the comments.

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