John's Hiking Dreams & Family
John turns thirty in four days, and this is his fictional business-to-consumer social story. He is married to Fran, and they have a son Robert who is five years old. John, an NC State graduate, works long hours writing code for a Raleigh, North Carolina, healthcare startup. Teaching computers to think like patients is proving a more significant challenge than John realized, but he likes his job, his boss, and his team. He wishes he had more time to take Fran and Robert hiking and camping.
John wants to thru-hike the Appalachian Trial (AT), but having a son and joining a startup put his dream on hold, so John lives vicariously through others. He subscribes to several YouTube hiking sites, but his favorite is Kyle Hates Hiking (find links in Resources). He followed Kyle's abortive attempt to thru-hike the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT).
John and Fran don't watch broadcast television, but they spend hours on their iPhones, iPad, and Apple laptops watching YouTube and Instagram videos. Fran likes to cook and thinks of herself as a "foodie," so she spends a lot of her online time visiting her favorite recipe and cooking sites such as Allrecipes and Williams Sonoma.
They subscribed to the DisneyPlus streaming channel because their son Robert loves Pixar's, Toy Story. Robert received a talking Woody doll on his fifth birthday. Robert calls Woody his "brother" as he walks around the house talking to the character. John and Fran didn't renew their Dish subscription to save money to take Robert to Disneyland. Still, after watching Kneon and Geeky Sparkles on Clownfish TV and discussing how much Disneyland rates had increased, they decided not to travel to Orlando.
Buying New Winter Camping Gear
John and Fran decided to go winter camping instead of heading south. John and Fran are REI members. John and Fran upgraded their camping gear with money saved from not going to Florida. John found a great REI article about winter camping in North Carolina - Top Picks for North Carolina Fall and Winter Camping. Since Hanging Rock State Park wasn't far from Raleigh, with drive-up access, they could bring their dog, Marley, as long as they leashed him.
John decided to buy two new Zpacks Solo Plex tents for $599 each from Zpacs.com after watching Kyle Hates Hiking's review. He liked that Zpacks had thoughts on their site and the back-and-forth between reviewers and Zpacks.com. He bought two tents so Robert would eventually have his tent.
John was going to buy an Arc'teryx Proton LT jacket at REI for $279 after watching FutureProof discuss the company. Still, he visited the Fjallraven site and loved the FJÄLLRÄVEN POLAR 2023 content. So while he didn't register to become an arctic explorer, he explored the collection buying an EXPEDITION X-LÄTT SHIRT M for $185 and a Singi Down Jacket for $600. Fran purchased the women's Singi Down Jacket too.
Fran's New Goldtouch Bakeware
Fran used $500 of their not going to Florida "savings" to upgrade with a handful of William Sonoma Goldtouch Bakeware, including a six-piece essential set, a half-sheet roasting set, and a nonstick corrugated half-sheet. Fran had a little left over, so she took John and Robert to see Minions: The Rise of Gru. Robert brought Woody and asked why Woody didn't need a ticket. In addition, Fran watches several YouTube cooking channels, including Pro Home Cooks, Peaceful Cuisine, and Marion Grasby.
Buying New Sneaks and Ipad
After watching another favorite Company Man, another favorite YouTuber, John decided to spend some of the money he and Fran saved by not going to Florida on a new Ipad so he could give his iPad to Robert. The latter ends up playing with it most of the time, anyway. He and Fran decided to go to the Apple Store after receiving a notice his LeBron James XX sneakers had arrived at Dick's Sporting Goods. John is playing winter basketball in a league of startup companies, so he needed new kicks.
John thought about buying his new Nike at Goat.com but decided he wanted to wear these sneakers HARD instead of keeping them in the box. John's sneaker collection hasn't grown much since marrying Fran and having Robert, but he still thinks of himself as a "sneakerhead," so he watches Jacques Slade on YouTube. Slade's review of the new Lebron XX sneakers convinced John they were what he needed to shoot winter hoops against other startups.
ZPacks and iPad Unboxing Videos
John has a YouTube channel but doesn't have much time to create content. He looks at his channel as a way to communicate with friends. After discussing Kyle Hates Hiking and his plan purchases with friends at work and on his basketball team, Kyle decided to create an unboxing video when his new Zpacks tents arrived. One of his friends saw his video and texted John to ask if he and his partner could join their Blowing Rock expedition. John and Fran said sure, the more, the merrier. Frank and Jerry plan to bring their Alaskan husky Blue Eyes. Blue Eyes and Marley get along and play for hours as only dogs can.
John created an unboxing video when his new iPad Pro arrived too. His friends loved his five-year-old son's reaction to having his iPad. Robert ran around the house shouting, "It's mine, all mine," hugging John's old iPad like a long-lost friend. John shared why he bought an iPad Pro and the accessories he added, explaining why he added each addition. Friends commented on his "accessory reviews" the most saying they followed several of his recommendations.
Influencing Friends of Friends
Frank and Jerry shared John's Zpacks Plex Solo unboxing video with hiker friends on LinkedIn. Art and Mitch, friends of Frank and Jerry's but people who don't know Frank, Jerry, John, or Fran, shared John's Zpacks Plex Solo unboxing video with twenty of their hiker friends. Two friends decided to upgrade their heavy tents with Zpacks Plex Solo because they're planning a PCT thru-hike next year. Nineteen of those twenty friends subscribed to Kyle Hates Hiking because Art and Mitch shared context for John's decision to buy new tents sharing a link to Kyle's PCT episodes.
John's iPad unboxing got shared with hundreds more friends and friends of friends than his tent unboxing. In addition, more than twenty people followed John's accessory recommendations deciding to upgrade their iPads and accessories too.
Adding It Up
John and Fran spent $4,400 with all purchases made online. They made a single visit to a store when an order they placed online with "ship-to-store" arrived. They watched YouTube videos, read online reviews, and explored company and social media websites on their iPhones, iPods, and laptops.
Their unboxing videos and other posts influenced hiking and techie friends and their friends to buy more than $20,000 in new tents, iPads, and accessories. The almost $25,000 in primarily online sales without seeing or being influenced by a single broadcast television commercial. Instead, this B2C social story featured social media channels watched, subscribed to, shared, and commented on by John, Fran, and friends of their friends. The only ads John, Fran, and most of their friends see come with a "skip ads" button, which they click fast and religiously.
John and Fran plan to film more detailed reviews after returning from Blowing Rock, so the influence, friends of friends, and the social content wheel turns and turns.