Florida’s New Scooters 4 Less (often abbreviated at NS4L online and by university students), is a successful Gainesville-based electric scooter store that caters to young adults and college students. The brand sells a variety of electric scooter models and also offers repairs and scooter storage. After over 15 years of business, the brand has successfully established itself as a safe and affordable transportation alternative. And much of this success is owed to the founder’s early adoption of social media as a marketing strategy.
Collin Austin, the founder of NS4L, began the venture back in 2004 after graduating from the University of Florida. Realizing shortly after graduating that he would only be happy working for himself, he decided to launch the business to help solve the transportation crisis he saw so many students facing on campus. And as a young, flexible entrepreneur entering the workforce, he had no qualms trying out new and undeveloped marketing channels to help launch his business. After a few years, he found his foothold in social media marketing. NS4L was able to succeed so well on social media thanks to their early adoption of social media, by targeting their core audience and identifying where to find them, and through consistency of content.
How Early Adoption Builds Success
Social media wasn’t always a “pay-to-play” marketing avenue as many marketing professionals describe it today. In the past, few brands were even on social media or marketing to their target consumers within their digital communities. Even fewer brands entered social media with a plan or marketing strategy. But by identifying these emerging platforms early and establishing a brand, companies have seen major benefits. Early adopters have had the opportunity to become thought leaders and market their brand with little competition.
“As many of the savvier global brands have found, being an early adopter of a new social media site can be an unprecedented opportunity for branding, visibility, and platform building. In fact, doing so is a key strategy for staying relevant in an ever-changing business and marketing environment. In essence, being early means getting to be a real leader, determining just how companies will use that new space; it also means getting to connect directly with key influencers before the platform gets too crowded with competitors,” (Smart Insights, 2014).
This is exactly what Austin did with NS4L. By developing his brand on YouTube in 2009, Facebook in 2007, Twitter in 2009, and by adopting platforms like Instagram and Snapchat early on, Austin positioned himself as a thought leader and industry expert for this social-media-using target audience: college students.
How Targeting Your Audience Can Make or Break Your Strategy
Correctly targeting key audiences on social media is essential to make sure that a budding social media platform helps, not hurts, your brand. These audiences can be determined by reworking an existing buyer persona or by using analytics to discover what your key audience looks like on social media. You should ask questions like:
- “How old is my audience?”
- “How much income does my audience make?”
- “What gender is my audience?”
- “Where does my audience live?”
- “What platforms are my audience on?”
- “What needs for my audience am I trying to solve?”
The better you understand your audience, the easier it will be to craft a consistent social media marketing strategy that’s effective in the long term. Note that you may have more than one target audience and those audiences may be disproportionately spread across various platforms. For example, older generations have greatly increased their Facebook use in the past few years. “In fact, the share of the Silent generation using Facebook has nearly doubled. On the other hand, Twitter appeals to younger audiences. Around 38% of Twitter users are between the ages of 18–29, and 26% of users are 30–49. Instagram also appeals to younger generations, with 35% of users being aged 25–34 and 30% being 18–24,” (Riserbato, 2020).
Austin spent a significant amount of time analyzing his core audience. He determined them to primarily be young college students, faced with a transportation crisis, who often use social media and other digital communities, and who are are looking for affordable and safe transportation alternatives. Along with other collected data, Austin was able to craft a social media strategy that capitalized on messaging the correct value propositions to his audience, on the right social media platforms. He’s also made use of digital assets like micro-influencers, video marketing, and instant messaging to better reach his audience. And he’s been doing so since the early stages of every channel.
Consistency in Social Content is Key
It’s not enough just to enter a channel early or understand your audience. Content marketing also needs to be consistent and brand-appropriate for the marketing strategy to be effective. Across Facebook and Instagram, Austin and his team post daily content. This content includes photos of their scooters, relevant events for undergraduates, and guides for staying on a budget or scooter safety. They’re careful to select a related, yet diverse variety of content for their channels. This is key, as it’s vital to “find a balance when posting content. Make sure that you aren’t posting too much of a certain type of content and not enough of another,” (Payne, 2014).
The NS4L team is most active on Snapchat and Instagram Stories, with multiple posts going live every day. And for larger video campaigns, Austin’s team pushes out a video series on Youtube two to three times a year. This much social content makes sure that the thousands of followers across NS4L’s social channels are exposed to the brand nearly every single day. And the team also understands the importance of making sure content is published with consistent timing. It’s important that “once you find a good balance in the amount you post for different kinds of content, be consistent when sharing that content. Having a posting schedule ensures that consistency in when you post and what you share,” (Payne, 2014). This consistency keeps the social media profile “fresh” and keeps your brand in the mind of your target consumers.
Putting the Social Media Strategy Together
The New Scooters 4 Less team, led by Collin Austin, adopted social media as a key part of their marketing strategy early on. From this, they refined their understanding of their target audience and kept a consistent posting cadence to build the brand they have today. It’s a good lesson for brands to keep an eye out not just at existing social channels for their marketing efforts, but for “emerging” social markets that could one day activate a whole new market segment for their brand.