I am not ashamed to say that one of the reasons I followed Sad Lumberjack Co. was because of their good-looking logo. You can read more about my thoughts on deciding between a logo or personal photo for your brand's profile pic here. One of the things I like about their Instagram feed is that they have a nice mix of product, behind the scenes, and kid photos. Also, they introduced me to the best hashtag ever, #handtoolthursday. Read more about my tips for branding your Instagram feed here.
1. Who are you, what do you do, and how did it all begin?
Billy Landenberger. I’m a Middle School Phys Ed teacher who is the co-founder of Sad Lumberjack – a company that builds longboard skateboards out of reclaimed wood (No lumberjacks needed). My wife, Bridget Sprague, is my partner in this crazy endeavor.
I love skateboarding. (Secretly I’m not very good, but nobody needs to know.) I’ve been skateboarding since I was a 10 or 11. It was a little dangerous. I moved faster than I probably should have. I could escape my parents… there were so many reasons to loved skateboarding. As an adult I learned woodworking skills from my father-in-law. One day I just thought, “If I could make anything out of wood, what would it be?” Skateboards won.
I went to a longboard buiding session with a company called Fox Boys Longboards out of Newburyport, MA. (Founded by two amazing high-school kids). And that was my start. I decided to make longboards out of reclaimed wood because I love the idea of making something useful out of something someone else thought was useless.
2. Where can we find you on social media?
This may be surprising, but really the only social media venue I use is Instagram. I’ve found retailers, buyers, potential partners all using Instagram. We’re starting a Pinterest page but that’s been slow going.
3. Why do you use social media?
Social media is the greatest form of marketing I think ever created. If you think about it there’s nothing better than a referral and social media is an awesome referral marketing engine.
We use Instagram because we believe that’s the best place to find “our people.” The people who are similar to us – have similar life goals & dreams. Yes, we want to connect with people who are interested in buying a longboard but we also want to connect with people we like and who are interested in us and what we’re doing.
4. Which tools do you use for creating or posting content?
My cracked iPhone 4. We take pictures with it, post, connect with others, comment, repost…
5. What effect does social media have on your business?
We wouldn’t have a business if it weren’t for Instagram right now. We do not have a website (yes, we’re working on it…). We’re not sold online anywhere. People find us on Instagram and send us an order via email. It’s pretty amazing.
6. How do you measure success on social media?
Let me start out by saying we didn’t start this business to get rich. Really it’s a fun hobby that keeps us out of trouble and people seem to see value in it. We love connecting with people who are similar to us. So “success” for us includes friendship, learning, a little adventure, and yes ultimately sales. In the very short amount of time we’ve been selling our boards, we’ve seen “success” in each of these categories.
Our business is still in its infancy so success in the traditional sense, at this stage in the game, is exposure – building brand awareness. We know it’s going to take time (years probably) to build a business that is profitable. We feel excited with every follower, like, comment, repost. Success has come when an awesome retailer finds us and asks if we would like to sell our boards at their store. And of course from every person who orders a board directly from us. We’re still surprised by the amount of interest. We’ve sold boards from Texas to Chicago to Maine. It’s crazy that everyone has found us on Instagram.
7. What aspect of social media do you find most challenging?
This might sound crazy to most business owners, but so far, social media hasn’t been very challenging because we are focusing on ONE platform. I’m sure if we were on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, You Tube and Pinterest we would find keeping up with each very frustrating. We don’t ever expect we’ll want to be everywhere. There’s something to be said about focusing your attention. We love Instagram and we think a lot of people who could be interested in buying our boards are on Instagram.
8. What makes you follow another brand back?
We follow A LOT of brands. It’s hard not to. There are so many cool people doing cool things. First and foremost, I follow a brand if I like it. My wife always says, “Brands are built on relationships and relationships are built on interests.” I like to follow outdoor/adventure brands like the Howler Brothers (who happened to order a board from us – crazy!) and Grain Surf Boards. I follow to learn from these people, see their products, get inspired. I do not follow a brand to simply get them to follow me back. I don’t think that strategy works in the long run.
9. Which brands have social media you admire?
I’m a HUGE fan of Grain Surfboards. They’re a small shop in York, Maine that builds wood surfboards. They’ve built a HUGE following on social media. Yes, their boards are beautiful, but they also understand the power of telling a story through great photography. Grain has almost 27,000 followers on Instagram.
I also think LLBean has done an amazing job on Pinterest. Did you know that the branded board with the most followers on Pinterest is LLBean’s “Woodland Creatures” with over 4.4 million followers. Granted, fuzzy cute animals don’t really have anything to do with LLBean’s products, but LLBean understands that they have everything to do with their audience’s interests and their company’s brand values. It’s kind of brilliant.
10. Any advice for other brands just getting started on social media?
Don’t be camera shy. The whole point of social media is to be social with people. We would rather connect with people, not companies, and we think others feel the same. So we don’t just post pictures of product. Our Instagram page shows us (well, really me because my wife takes the pictures) choosing the wood, cutting the shape, gluing, sealing… even testing a few boards out on the road. We like checking out how other people make their products and subsequently we put a greater value on it after seeing all the work that she/he put into it.
Don’t try to be perfect. Some of our most popular posts have been those where we ask our followers what they think we should do – because we’re stumped. Like choosing the best wheel color for a board. Everyone seems to get really into it and we get to learn from the people who care about our products the most. “Perfect” is what corporations try to be, and we think people are a little tired of “perfect.”
Don’t be afraid to let people into your life just a little. Our family loves to hike, kayak, surf, camp, fish. We take pictures, post, and tag those interests (i.e. #fishing in #maine). It gets us in front of others who like the same things we do which is cool because we connect with people we can admire and occasionally those people also love to longboard - or even better tag a few friends who longboard - connecting even more people to Sad Lumberjack.
Don’t skimp on your logo. My wife, I will now admit, is a brand strategist so she understands the power a kick-ass brand can have on a business. (I will admit, I’m not sure I believed it until now.) I was lucky enough to have John Magnifico design our logo. I honestly believe much of our success has come because our brand looks legit. We’ve been asked for t-shirts, stickers, decals, buttons… (Which we have none of yet – get on that Bridget.) People just seem to love Sad Lumberjack - making this business even more fun for the two of us to be a part of.