Customer Success Story: Bear Voyages

Bear Voyages
Med Pool-Bears

The challenge

Increase brand awareness for a new Bear-Focused Curated Cruise

Bear Voyages came to us with the specific challenge of getting the word out about a new Meditteranean cruise, on a brand spanking new cruise line (Virgin Voyages) for Bears in August 2021.

It was the Summer/Fall of 2020 and the travel industry was severely disrupted, but undaunted, we forged ahead, knowing full well we'd have to adapt, pivot and most likely change everything at some point.

The solution

Consistent social posting, calls to action and targeted organic outreach

Utilizing our new social media marketing package, Bear Voyages worked with us to create a social media strategy of 12 posts a month, with each post falling into one of these six categories: Safety, Hunky Men, Foxy Ship, Testimonial, HouseBears [The Real HouseBears of Cleveland, Performers], and Social Justice

Bear Voyages

The solution - Explained

Consistent Social Posting: Why These 6 Categories?

Safety: Remember it was Aug/Sep 2020. Cruise ships were super spreaders. It was important to address "the elephant in the room" with our social posts. Thankfully, Virgin Voyages agreed and allowed us access to a series of graphics that elaborated on their new safety measures. For example, this "safety dance/social distancing" image.

Testimonial: Word of Mouth marketing is still king, especially when it comes to travel planning. While a DIY itinerary is always possible, sometimes you want a professional to design something for you and a testimonial is exactly what you want to read. Notice we used a "hunky man" underneath the testimonial 😉 Again, catching the eye. We made this graphic using the image from UNSPLASH and CANVA. Both are free tools that allow you to create great graphics. 

Hunky Men: Obviously, we're going to put images of hairy, hunky men in our posts?! The market is gay men. They are visually aroused. And we absolutely want to attract their eye to our social posts. The "Hunky Men" post that got the most likes was this one, with 645 likes. It got the most action because we used terms for their community: Cub, chub, otter, Ursula, muscle bear, panda and polar bear AND it has a whole pile of half-naked hunky men 🙂 

The Real Housebears of Cleveland: A mix of hunky, fun, talented, and socially conscious, the Housebears are a dynamic performing duo that always satisfy. Our collaboration with the Housebears was pivotal: Not only will they be performing on the Med Cruise in August 2022, but their posts promoting the cruise had a ton of energy, sentiment (see their day of remembrance video here), and of course, HUNKYNESS! Additionally, they found the social justice organization (next column) that a portion of every booking for the cruise is donated to. Read more about their bears here.

Foxy Ship: Virgin Voyages is the adult-only, new cruise line by Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic. With three all-new ships being built, complete with "Rock Star Suites," edgy entertainment, small eateries (no big buffets here), and absolutely no kids, Virgin Voyages' new ships deserved to be featured. This image, of a less expensive interior stateroom, was the one of the first images we featured.

Social Justice: Our first few strategy sessions took place at the same time as the Black Lives Matter protests across the US. I was very direct with Bear Voyages: You can't just be a bunch of white men going on a cruise. Your company and our strategy is within a larger context and you need to go out and find an organization that will benefit from your bookings/exposure. Enter "For The Gworls," a grassroots rent and gender-affirming assistance program in New York. They literally throw rent parties and then give the money to people who apply for it. Pretty rad. 

The solution - Explained

Keeping it Social: Targeted Organic Outreach

On average, Bear Voyages gained 3 new followers per post.

While that may not sound like very many, those new followers were gained ORGANICALLY and that's what every brand wants - organic reach.

Of those 3 new followers a day, Bear Voyages reached out individually to nearly all of them - Targeted organic outreach.

Sending a quick "Hi, thanks for following us! How did you hear about Bear Voyages?" can go a long way to keeping followers engaged. Think about it: When was the last time you received a genuine comment/message from a brand? How did it make you feel?

By sending these personal messages and/or comments, you are keeping your social media SOCIAL. 

Dave Fowlie, Bear Voyages

The solution - Explained

Consistent Calls to Action

75% of the posts had a call to action in the copy. Ranging from "Read more here [link]:" to "Sign up for our newsletter," to "Add your favorite bear emoji in the comments," our consistent calls to action provoked followers to engage with our content.

The solution - Explained

How We Pivoted in a Pandemic

"The Valiant Lady isn't yet ready for her close up :)...."

In mid-December 2020, Virgin Voyages announced the postponement of their upcoming voyages, including the Bear Voyage original scheduled for August 2021. Postponed till August 2022, the Bear Voyages Meditteranean Cruise had already shown promising bookings and several folks either canceled or rescheduled. 

We pivoted by announcing the rescheduling on all our social channels and the BV website and changed the strategy to focus on LOOKING FORWARD to travel, the amenities and coolness of exclusive Virgin Ships as well as hunky men 🙂

Bear Voyages Med Cruise Aug 2022
Virgin Voyages
Draken Jensen and Bear Voyages

The results - The Tanglibles

45% conversion rate increase (new email sign ups)

$11,000 in New Bookings

Gained 628 new (engaged) followers on Facebook

September 2020-March 2021

The results - The Intanglibles

As a result of the consistent 3 posts a week, Bear Voyages was able to solidify several collaborations and opportunities for the future that would not have been accessible otherwise.

For example, Bear Voyages approached an Australian company for a potential "Bear Colab" and the company was already aware of Bear Voyages! When Dave introduced himself on the phone, the exact response was, "Oh! I KNOW who YOU are..." 

Additionally, just as this case study was forming, Country singer Drake Jensen singed up with Bear Voyages to do an official DRAKE JENSEN CRUISE

Client Testimonial

Dave Fowlie, Bear Voyages
Small & Mighty Marketing was instrumental in getting my social media marketing campaign off the ground.  Shelley worked with me to create a comprehensive strategy and was truly insightful into all the things that should be considered for a winning strategy.  Things that I would never had thought of on my own.  She then set about building out a posting schedule and worked her magic to make it real.  And I can honestly say that it is working.  Not only likes and engagement but actual sales!  I could not have done this without her support.  Shelley is amazing at what she does.  I recommend her to all my fellow business owners.  If you are floundering at figuring out how to do social media, call Shelley and she will work her magic with you.

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