Forsake uses Instagram influencers to organically build their brand – and their reputation.

Is it so hard to ask for hiking boots that get the job done in the mountains and look stylish in a city? This may have been a question without an answer seven years ago, but now, we have Forsake.

Forsake was founded after Jake Anderson and Sam Barstow, two adventurers from Upstate New York and Boston, moved out west to the Rockies and discovered their sneakers didn’t make the cut. Tears, rips, water leakage – they needed something more rugged, sturdy, and waterproof.

Forsake combats these issues and adds a sense of style to it. Their first attempt to raise money on Kickstarter didn’t reach their monetary goal or the factory’s minimum requirement to produce footwear. They tried again and succeeded, going over their minimum goal; since then, they launched their first products and are in the thick of business after receiving investment from 43North this past October. Jack Knoll, Forsake’s marketing director, was kind enough to discuss their social media presence and getting Forsake’s name out to the public domain.

In recent years, Instagram has been monumental for businesses in the advertising world. Instagram reports a total of 25 million+ business profiles worldwide with over 200 million users visiting at least one business profile a day.

“When you think of Instagram as an advertising tool, you’re measuring somebody’s reach by looking at how many of your target customers are in their funnel or how many people are in your funnel are a part of their following,” Jack said.

Instagram “influencers”, as they’re called, usually have a large following of people, from a few thousand followers to hundreds of thousands, even millions! The people who follow these influencers generally follow for specific reasons, say, fashion, sports, and outdoor activities, to name a few. Being an outdoor footwear company, Forsake sought to promote themselves on Instagram and quickly recognized the value of using these influencers.

It makes sense for small brands to target niche influencers to ensure that the reach you’re getting, and perhaps paying for, are aligned with your demographics,” Jack said. “It doesn’t make sense for us to go out and pay a lot of money to someone with a couple million followers because there are so many people in that following, and a lot of those people will inevitably not be in our target demographic.”

Unlike other businesses, large or small, Forsake waits for influencers to come to them. The general thought is a company interested in outreach will approach an influencer to help promote products. Jack would rather someone approach Forsake because they want to use their products and perhaps, later on, promote their products.

“The ideal person we work with is someone who has a pretty good following to begin with, but we like to grow with that individual,” Jack said, adding Forsake rarely works with a paid influencer on a one-off project. “I like to start by getting people in our product and making sure there is an authentic desire to use our product and support it more organically than going out and paying for reach.”

Thus, there’s a trial period between Forsake and the individual in order for the two to grow organically and authentically with each other. If the early stages of the relationship work, Forsake is more likely to add that influencer to their paid ambassador list.

Forsake chooses ambassadors based on a small niche of people. These ambassadors are generally photographers who are constantly outdoors hiking in the mountains or the desert, but who also may find themselves in an urban environment. They will choose paid ambassadors who fit that niche and whose followers are interested in the outdoor lifestyle. This gives Forsake the best opportunity to grow their following on Instagram and their customer base in general. This way, Forsake is able to target people who know their products because they follow an influencer of Forsake. This leads to potential new customers and growth for Forsake on Instagram. It creates authenticity organically through the people who follow the particular influencer and who choose to follow Forsake.

This is how they are authentic. They market honestly and fairly. They care about the relationship first and the exposure second.