Moja Gear is an innovative startup based in San Luis Obispo, CA that organically mixes both social and retail services online. They have built a community-powered hub that caters to climbing enthusiasts. MojaGear.com includes new articles and featured products every day, including a variety of content submitted by the climbing community. We like them because they are setting an excellent example of how to build a community around a startup.
Other social channels like Instagram and Tumblr might work best
Moja Gear’s most successful social media platforms are Instagram and Tumblr. Content and community drive their Instagram activity. Check out their feed: @MojaGear. Users are able to submit photos to be featured on the Moja Gear page using a special hashtag. If you search their hashtag #ClimbMoja you will notice it has over 7,700 posts. Encouraging this sort of participation from their followers has proven successful in producing follows, likes and general traffic. Tumblr has also been effective as a marketing tool, especially because there are so few businesses on the platform. As a result, Moja Gear stands out, and has developed a very tight knit Tumblr following. Check out their page. As Moja Gear Co-Founder Sander DiAngelis explained, “We really like it because of the versatility that it offers, everything from videos to long-form content to short form snippets.” Many posts such as short snippets are able to capture the attention of their audience and link them back to MojaGear.com to view longer-form content.
Rethink how you use Facebook and Twitter
Facebook and Twitter are Moja Gear’s toughest platforms to reach their community. What they have found Twitter useful for is engaging with influencers, brands or just prominent individuals. Facebook tends to limit reach on Moja Gear’s corporate page. DiAngelis pointed out, “If we’re doing a feature on a prominent athlete, their reach is far greater than what we get as a business. Most of our Facebook traffic is not coming from us by any means, it’s coming from a network of individuals.” Though it seems that Moja Gear has found Facebook to be somewhat challenging, they continue to be successful because they have built a network of ambassadors and influencers that help share their content on the Facebook platform.
Keeping costs low
“We are very creative and resourceful with how we spend our money. We’ve created something that is almost entirely community driven.” There are a lot of people trying to get their ideas out there and get sponsorships, so the site can be a publishing platform for people’s personal brands. While Moja Gear was initially producing content in-house, about 75% of their daily content is now community-submitted—they’ve developed a model that provides value for those who contribute. This is especially useful because they no longer have to pay so much for their content. As a result, Moja Gear is cutting costs because its most valuable assets (content) are now being produced organically by the close-knit community it has carefully built.
Building a viable business model in a dense space
The retail space is extremely competitive, consisting of giants like REI and Amazon. Many brands are shifting directly to consumers, which is shrinking out SMB (small-to-medium businesses) retailers. As the industry is quite dense, the content community model has grown increasingly appealing to consumers. Rather than attempt to compete online with retail giants, Moja Gear seeks to be a curated content engine catered to an organically built community. As DiAngelis pointed out, “Product promotional retail is expiring. People are becoming overwhelmed by all the messaging.” Fortunately Moja Gear is navigating away from this model because it understands that pairing natural community interactions with retail produces a more welcomed form of selling.
Looking forward, Moja Gear is publishing a number of eBooks including an 100-page guide on rock climbing fundamentals. They are also exploring strategic partnerships with some big players. Outside of the rock climbing space, Moja Gear is interested in taking their model and replicating the content and retail platform across other verticals. Due to the flexibility and effectiveness of their business concept, the odds are definitely in their favor. We look forward to seeing Moja Gear and the rest of the social commerce industry continue to grow and innovate.