Final Project: REI Co-op

Introduction

REI Co-op (Recreational Equipment Incorporated) is a retail store dedicated to selling sporting goods, camping gear, travel equipment and clothing. REI Co-op also offers services such as outdoor-oriented vacations and classes.

REI Co-op was founded by Lloyd and Mary Anderson in 1938. The company got it’s start after the Anderson’s bought an Akadem Pickel ice axe from Austria. Realizing that good gear with reasonable prices was hard to find, Lloyd and Mary developed a co-operative so other outdoor enthusiasts could buy quality gear that wouldn’t break their bank.

In terms of branding, REI Co-op is known as one of the top “go to” places for quality camping, hiking, cycling, paddling, climbing, snow related activities and running gear They stand behind every product with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. The company was built by a group of 23 mountain hiking friends who like to get outside and play and know how to cater to like-minded individuals. They are also well known for the variety of courses offered related to all of the above mentioned activities and travel opportunities. A fun fact about REI is that they have made Fortunes Magazines list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” each and every year since the rankings began in 1998. Now that’s impressive!

REI has 154 brick and mortar retail stores in 36 states. They also receive orders via catalogs and online. Their annual revenue in 2015 was $2.4 billion.

Social Media Presence Overview

Facebook

  • Facebook: @REI
  • Followers:1,753,017
  • Likes: 1,808,628
  • Visitors: 336,108

Pinterest

  • Followers:  114,464
  • Following: 333
  • Number of Pins: 584,830

Instagram

  • Followers: 1.7m
  • Following: 392

Twitter:

  • Username: @rei
  • Followers: 390k
  • Following: 1075
  • Number of Tweets: 90.4k

YouTube

  • Subscribers: 55,868

 Analysis and Evaluation

Facebook

REI’s Facebook account is their most popular social media site with almost two million followers and “likes” and just over 300k page visitors. REI utilizes Facebook to share a variety of videos from mountain biking basics to affordable backpacking meals, and snowshoe lessons to name a few. In addition, as you navigate down the menus, you’ll note upcoming events and adventures, albums with timeline/cover photos, profile pictures and Gory Gearheads, which are Halloween Avatars that you can pick for your profile picture and share your alter ego with your friends. I’ll have to check that out in a few months!

TentREI is very engaged with its customers and followers and appears to post daily. One of their recent posts encouraged followers to share their favorite campsite photos and the feedback they received was outstanding. The post that really caught my attention was geared towards alternative ways to pitch a tent.

Who knew you could camp on the roof of your car?

In viewing the community link, I learned that REI is heavily engaged in stewardship. On July 30th they are partnering with the Shenandoah National Park and about 50 volunteers to rebuild historic landscapes and wilderness areas around an area called Big Meadows. REI is also supporting several restoration and community engagement projects across the National Forests in 2017 and 2018 through a $1 million donation to the National Forest Foundation. In scrolling down a bit, I also learned that REI donated t-shirts to youth aged volunteers that built new trail including 3 climbing turns, 2 rock walls and a few drainage structures. In addition REI helped with the effort to install a bike fix station in Del Dios Gorge, Santa Fe Valley trail. Other posts noted on the community link included some customer complaints and compliments, and upcoming events such as the Women’s Solo Travel on July 26th. Realizing that women haven taken a strong interest in outdoor activities, REI is utilizing FB to market events and gear to attract that audience and is also using the forum to promote women of every ability and culture to expand their customer base. When scrolling through REI’s FB page, you might think that the company was geared specifically for women only as the majority of their posts depict women.she lift

Pinterest

It’s no surprise that REI Co-op has an impressive presence on Pinterest. You can easily navigate to their Pinterest page via their website. From there, you have access to 17 boards and 584,830 pins. Boards are organized by category and provide easy access to a wealth of information. Want to know what gear to buy for a backpacking trip, click on the related board. Going camping and not sure what to eat? Check out their endless list of camp recipes and camp kitchen check list. You can also find a variety of “gifts for her”, “gifts for him” gifts for kids” and board dedicated to over 150 active vacations offered around the globe like this one:

Island Escape

Instagram

REI’s Instagram account is loaded with inspiring pictures from REI staff and followers. I like how they challenged followers to share personal pictures and experiences via weekend projects like “raise the stakes” where they asked followers to share how they camp when they don’t use a traditional tent and tag it “#LetsCamp.” instagram

Everything posted on this site is completely relevant for the company branding and motivates the reader/follower to want more, be more, and to explore more.

 

Twitter

REI has been on Twitter since 2008 and has over 390k followers, are following over 1000 people, have tweeted 90.4k times, and the account has 17.9k likes. All posts are relevant/supportive of the REI Co-op brand, include general posts/videos and are interactive with customers via the use of chats and surveys and replies to complaints with action steps. Like their Facebook account, REI is also using Twitter to promote women’s gear  and events for women. Not a surprise given women make up 85% of consumer purchases. They’d be foolish to not get a piece of that big pie!

YouTube

REI is reaching over 50,000 subscribers on YouTube and provides links to all their other social media platforms. The first video posted on the home page encourages viewers to stand up to the Department of the Interior to protect our national monuments like our parks. Check it out:

There is an abundance of great “how to” videos available such as this great one on how to use a compass:

The YouTube is channel appears to be interactive via the discussion link, but all I found were 25 random comments from followers and no REI staff interaction. Under the “playlist” tab, you’ll find an abundance of additional videos such as advice from the experts, guides, tips, traveling with REI, member stories and uplifting/supportive content like Paul’s Boots:

Overall, REI Co-op has a strong presence across multiple social media platforms. They are very active with their posts, sharing information and member stories as well as inspiring their followers to remain or get active. Based on follower interactions, you can tell that their customers are strong supporters of REI gear, clothing, supplies, challenges and adventures.

Digital Footprint

When I ran a basic Google search on REI Co-op I found a link to the company website, Twitter Handle, Wikipedia Information, Facebook page, a link to jobs @ REI, additional searches with links to rei clothing, rei careers, rei outlet, store locator, rei sale, rei coupons and rei membership. There was also a link to the story about their #OptOutside Campaign. For those that despise Black Friday shopping, you’ll appreciate this one! There are an abundance of images for the logo REI or REI Co-op and other photos related to the company.

REI is in the news quite a bit. I found press releases announcing the launching of new gear, store openings, new staff and a CNN story pertaining to the challenge REI presented to the Trump administration about the protection of our public lands. I also found a story stating that REI was noted as one of the top 100 places to work for Millennials.

The Google search presented a lot of video content as well. Most are similar, if not the same as what I found on YouTube. In addition, I found one book as a result of the search titled “rei: 50 years of climbing together” by Harvey Manning.

Commendations and Recommendations

In my opinion, I feel REI Co-op is doing a great job marketing all their products, gear, courses and travel opportunities via their website and multiple social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram. Their followers help the process along by posting stories, pictures and feedback. In addition, their website is loaded with product information, courses, videos, sales, advice, stories, and links to local hikes and “gems.” As an active/outdoorsy kind of person, I could spend hours upon hours reviewing videos and how to guides. In fact, I just found a few trips to add to my “bucket list”:

Yellowstone & Grand Teton Hiking and Camping

Zion & Bryce Hiking & Camping

Canadian Rockies Hiking Plus

REI’s motto is to dream it, learn it, and do it and I have to say they have had that affect on me and then some!

With any company, there’s always room for improvement. Based on my research, I feel that REI Co-op could do a better job replying to customer comments and complaints on social media platforms. In addition, it appears they are focusing the majority of their current efforts/attention on women. While that’s a great market to go after, they shouldn’t discount the power of the male consumer. REI Co-op should aim to maintain a balance of diverse posts/videos across all genders, cultures, and people of varying physical abilities.

References

https://www.rei.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/REI

https://www.youtube.com/user/reifindout

https://twitter.com/

https://www.facebook.com/REI/

https://www.pinterest.com/reicoop.com

https://www.instagram.com/rei/

From Business Suit to a Bathing Suit

As a young college girl seeking new opportunities, I would just LOVE to be able to drop everything I’m doing this second to travel the world. Doesn’t it sound amazing to live in a bikini all day and not worry about anything except where your traveling to next? Sounds good to me! But a girl can dream…right!? This is me in Mexico, wishing I was still knee deep in turquoise water!FullSizeRender

Anyways, after some exploring on the web, I came across a really awesome blog about a young woman who has decided to throw every aspect of her professional life in the garbage and decided to travel for a living. The Blonde Abroad is a blog written by a young California girl named Kiersten. Like many, she was taught that she needed an education, a high paying job, to get married and have kids to live a full and prosperous life. But not long after graduating from college with Honors and accepting a position at a popular financial firm in LA did she discover that this wasn’t what she wanted to do. Since then, Kiersten has traveled to over 50 countries, volunteered her time in undeveloped countries, and is now living the life that makes her heart happy. To make this blog a young womans’ dream come true, Kiersten also blogs about fashion, photography and travel tips from her experiences. Check her incredibly awesome blog out HERE!

The blog caught my eye not only because of my deep love and passion for traveling and seeing the world, but also because of it’s unique layout. It’s bold, creative and to the point. She wrote the posts in a. way that has very limited information on them, but also gives you, the reader, the option to read more about what she is talking about if you choose too. The title of the Blog which is A Blonde Abroad should make someone think twice about it. Once you open the blog, a pink backdrop appears with a slideshow of videos and pictures from her trips appear. The layout of her information tabs make it easy to navigate and find information. She offers both blogs and vlogs (Video Blogs) from her travels, which I think makes it more interesting and gives people an option if they don’t like to sit and read. Her “about me” page is short and sweet for people not wanting to know her life story, but she does give the option to read her full story down below.  All pictures and videos taken are from her, not from a different source which makes the reader feel more connected and intrigued! If your traveling on a budget, she’s got a tab for that! Or if you want to learn more about volunteering in undeveloped countries, she can help with that! She covers many different topics ranging from food, to fashion, and festivals and a little of everything else that falls in between.

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She has a layout of 6 different tabs at the top of the blog. One for Destinations, Travel Tips, Activities,  Interests, Shop and FAQ’s! After clicking on a tab, it directs you to another page on her blog that gives a little information about each thing. The graphics used on the posts are interactive, meaning they look like their calculating numbers when showing you where she has visited in her travels! My favorite part about this blog is the “Popular Articles” section on the homepage. Check out a few of my favorites below!

  • If you need some assistance on what to pack in a carry on bag,  Click HERE
  •  Looking for some guidance on where to travel in your 20’s?? Click HERE 
  • Want to travel the world or book a vacation and don’t have anyone to go with? No worries, travel Solo! Heres some of the Safest Places to travel as a solo female

As a whole, she seems to really encourage her readers to share her stories and experiences, but also take them in for themselves. The blog gives the opportunity to share the posts and articles on various social media platforms, and also gives the opportunity to e-mail just incase! I feel as if this blog is more of a read-only blog, and not to share. I wish I had known about this blog earlier because it gives so many tips on how to budget, pack and also safety steps to take when traveling alone. She has created a tab on the blog that shares the sites her work has been featured in, including The New York Times, Travel + Leisure and Forbes! Check the rest of her Press features out HERE. 

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I normally don’t care too much about the author, but her story is unique in a way that makes me envy who she is, but in a good way. I feel like as a young woman, she stands for a lot and she also stands for the young women who are told on the daily that they need a degree to be anything in this world. Not only is she proving that theory wrong, but she does it in such a way that makes it seem normal. After all the violence and terror in the world, reading this blog gives me comfort in knowing that I am a woman and I can do what so many men do as a living, travel the world and be safe at the same time. She has proved that even after quitting her job at a prestigious Finance company after graduating college with honors, she is still a successful female making a living on her own. This blog means more to me the just a travel blog, it shows me that I can’t be defined by a single piece of paper or any amount of money a job position can offer. Do what makes the heart happy, or else you’ll be stuck doing something that doesn’t pay yourself back. Do what you love, and love what you do! 

As a blog, it does very well at giving insight on what to look for when planning a vacation and some ideas of what to do while on the trip! I think this blog would be great to incorporate into a business program and show it to both young men and women equally. You don’t have to be female to travel solo and enjoy what the beautiful world has to offer, but it might be more fun to show everyone how successful a young woman can actually be! If there was something this blog could do better, it would be to promote the work and articles better, as I have never seen them shared on social media. The only reason I knew about this blog was because I googled Top Blogs about Travel, and this was the third on the list!

I look forward to taking her tips and putting them to use one day soon! Catch you at the beach!

 

 

Case Study #2, Adventure Blog Review

Overview

The Planet D is a travel blog based around an adventurous couple’s lives, Dave and Deb. Both Dave and Deb contribute to this blog and they fill it with their own travel tales, tips they have for travelers, or ways to inspire people who want to become travelers. The couple’s motto is “adventure is for everyone”. Their travel lifestyle began in 2008 and Dave and Deb have been very successful with their adventures and blogging ever since. 

Analysis

Layout

The opening layout of this blog is very welcoming and has the two bloggers as the very fist thing a viewers sees. There is a lot of photography used throughout the layouts which is eye grabbing. The photos are amazing and colorful. There is not a lot of words thrown on the layout, the majority is pictures and/or videos.

screenshot1
The Planet D: Home Page

The header includes a photo of Dave and Deb along with their shortened back story and motto. The header also allows the viewer to watch some of their travel videos or “Get Started Now” to begin reading categorized travel blogs. 

Above the header there are multiple pages the viewer can click on. Some of these pages include an “About Us”, “Travel Tips”, or “Destinations”. Each of these pages are filled with information, photos, and blog posts.

Below the header there are four options: “Discover”, “Top Posts”, “Imagine”, and “Explore”. Each of these options have pictures and/or videos below them. The pictures/videos are links to different posts. 

At the bottom of this blog is an organized footer. The footer has multiple options for the audience. These options include links to follow the blog on multiple social media accounts, a search bar, an option to subscribe, and an option for viewers to partner up with Dave and Deb and advertise/sponsor the blog. Following these options the same pages above the header are also listed below the footer. 

Content

There is a countless amount of posts in this blog that are based around multiple different topics. Each blog post includes multiple photos with a caption underneath each one. A lot of the blog posts also include links to other websites that have more information on a specific site or destination. Also within the a lot of the posts there are links to other posts. For example: Read: 19 Photos That Will Make You Want to Visit South Dakota

Another noticeable feature that is included in the majority of the blog posts is advertising. There are advertisements for hotels or plane tickets. 

The top three posts on The Planet D are: 

The “About Us” page features an interview youtube video of Dave and Deb that is about 5 minutes long. Along with this heartwarming video Dave and Deb go into detail about their relationship and marriage. This couple reveals how they felt stuck and bored with life and eventually discovered their passion for traveling. Dave and Deb have created an amazing and exciting life full of adventures and this page goes into talking about how they have created their blog to inspire anyone who wants to create an adventurous life for themselves. Their backstory is truly inspiring and they are both extremely passionate and caring for this blog. 

Dave and Deb’s blog has 188,116 just on Facebook, 130,000 followers on Twitter, and 190,000 followers on Instagram. This blog is extremely popular and followers are always anxious to see where the couple goes next. 

The most significant part to each blog post are the photos. Each post has a featured image and multiple photos that give a viewer an inside look. At the end of each blog post there are some advertisements, other posts a viewer might enjoy, and more ways to stay connected to Dave and Deb’s blog through social media.

screenshot blog2
End of post on The Planet D

 

Conclusion

The Planet D is an exciting, visually pleasing, and inspiring blog. There are countless topics that each blog post is written about. Dave and Deb’s blog offers amazing travel advice, hidden destinations, and interesting travel stories. 

The layout of this blog is extremely pleasing to the eye. A lot of well taken photography is used to feature each blog post. There are a lot of colors used throughout the layout, needless to say nothing is bland about this blog. Dave and Deb’s beliefs and motto really show through the layout and design. Regarding the navigation it is fairly easy to move throughout this blog, but there is definitely a lot to choose from. One downside to this blog is the advertising throughout the pages or posts. Sometimes advertising takes up too much room or turns off a reader. The layout is uniquely designed and proves to viewers how much Dave and Deb truly love traveling. 

The content of this blog is extremely helpful, interesting, and exciting. Every single blog post has some advice or beneficial information to offer regarding traveling. The titles to each post are interesting and sometimes ask questions which grabs a readers attention. Dave and Deb have become pro travelers and have a lot of secrets, stories, and tips to share so this blog can please multiple types of readers. The Planet D is a popular and fast growing blog that is very fascinating.