How Cabela’s Uses Social to Turn Customers Into Friends

Adam Buchanan, Social Media Manager at Cabela’s, joins the first 2015 episode of the Social Pros Podcast to discuss the value of customer and employee involvement in social media content, symbiotic partnerships with like-minded businesses, and the importance of experiential learning in social media.

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Full Episode Details

Ownership and Passion

Adam Buchanan is the Social Media Manager of Cabela’s, an outdoor sporting goods retailer with over 65 stores. The stores are the IKEA of outdoor retail; they are a destination in an of themselves. You can eat at the cafe and stay all day. You can attend a special event. You can bring your kids or you can talk with an expert about your hardcore area of interest. Cabela’s aspires to “sell fun”, which translates directly into its social media strategy.

Adam and his core team (three total) focus on the proactive in social media: strategy and and messaging on a holistic level (sharing content that resonates with all of their customers, across the U.S. and Canada). Then there’s the reactive team: five customer service representatives that handle customer experience questions through social media, website, phone, and email.

Secret OutfitterTo top it off, Cabela’s has about 20 “authenticity experts” who are asked to chime in on their areas of expertise (hunting, fishing, camping, etc.) to make sure their messaging truly matches the outdoor and hunting space. These are people who volunteer to participate because they are passionate about their own experiences, social media, and Cabela’s brand.

With so many passionate members of their community, Cabela’s finds their best content through their customers and employees. They feel like rockstars when they see their photos officially posted by Cabela’s, while Cabela’s gets great content that says, “Hey, these are real people. We’re real people. We sell fun.” It’s a win-win, and it really gives employees and customers ownership and passion.

Its In My NatureThe Secret Outfitter campaign, in which the CEO surprised customers by paying for their items at checkout, was well-documented through Cabela’s partnership with GoPro and really took off for the winter holiday. A post as simple as a quick photo of their store hours for Thanksgiving spread like wildfire because it not only informed customers, but reinforced Cabela’s values, which resonated with their audience. The ongoing It’s In Your Nature campaign gives customers a platform to share their experiences through hashtags and photo contests. Ownership and passion, over and over again.

At every level, Adam says their social media mission boils down to this: “It’s really to be a friend with these people and engage with them and inform them.” This idea has put them on the map for top 10 most socially engaged retailers in the holiday season. It’s fun, and it works all year ’round.

And finally, as promised, here’s my crazy Christmas Eve bonfire lighting video!

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