Thought Leadership
  • Content marketing

The rise of the new fitness social networks

Kieran Alger
20th February 2015

We’re increasingly starting to track – and share – our every move.

When sporting clothing brand Under Armour recently announced the acquisition of not one but two fitness platforms – the sports tracking app Endomondo and the food-monitoring tool MyFitnessPal – it was big news in the tech and fitness world.

But it went largely unnoticed by the business or social media press. Fitness apparel brand buys fitness app might not seem instantly pertinent to the social media marketers. But it is - in a big way.

Fitness is leading the way when it comes to wearable tech and that means it’s fast becoming an important battleground in the fight to 'own' our connected lives.

Let’s start with some facts. Social media is helping people get fit. Studies have proved that sharing fitness goals on social platforms makes us weak-willed humans more likely to stick to it. There’s also strong evidence to show that being part of a group, and sharing your fitness journey with like-minded individuals, helps keep people motivated for longer. Two very powerful reasons for waist-watching fitness chasers to join up.

And we are – in droves. From serious runners to those looking to increase general daily activity, we're adopting apps, bands, watches and trackers and increasingly starting to track - and share - our every move.

Community and content marketing

So why is this important to people interested in social media and content marketing? Because Nike+, Endomondo, MyFitnessPal and Strava aren’t just for tracking: These brands, many of whom didn’t exist until recently, are some of the fastest growing social networks out there and that represents a couple of interesting opportunities for content marketers.

Firstly, there aren’t many brands using these networks yet and that means there’s less competition than in crowded spaces like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram if you can find a way to make your message relevant. By sponsoring Endomondo’s Hydration stats in the app, Powerade was able to put its product in a highly relevant spot right at the point most users would be thinking about how to rehydrate.

The second interesting thing to watch is how these brands use their growing networks. Nike is brilliant at social media marketing with an excellent brand-to-user and user-to-brand content flow. Nike mastered the art of making the conversation flow both ways and set the benchmark for many brands in community engagement.

Strava has also started to create good, engaging content. At the end of 2014 Strava created a series of highly shareable content, pulling out interesting stats from their user data from the past 12 months. They took something uniquely 'theirs' and turned it into compelling content.

Collaboration and content

Now apply that to these new fitness tech collaborations. MyFitnessPal has a whopping 80 million users worldwide, while Endomondo has 20 million. Added to MapMyFitness, which Under Armour bought last year, and the company now has a connected fitness community of more than 120 million registered users. The majority of them are highly active on social media within the community but also share their fitness journeys outside of that community on other social networks.

For Under Armour this represents a huge opportunity. It’s not hard to see the thought process. Clothing brand on the rise buys huge connected platforms that can be used to showcase exciting new advancements in tracking tech and in-clothing sensors.

Then there’s the fact that Under Armour has massively expanded its customer base. But the most interesting of all is that they’ve also potentially earned themselves another 100 million brand advocates, provided they can harness the value of this huge social audience in the right way. Look upon it as a ready-made word-of-mouth engine.

Incentivise and reward

It’s not just clothing companies who are fighting for a share of the fitness audience. The emergence of goal-and-reward apps like Bounts and Runnit are also tapping into this market, offering brands outside of the sports apparel and fitness world the chance to connect with these huge audiences.

Bounts and Runnit both offer discounts and rewards for everything from foot creams to cinema tickets in return for reaching pre-set fitness goals. For the selfie-stick wielding, socially connected Tough Mudder generation, using technology they already own - the smartphone - to incentivise fitness and challenges is a potent stimulus.

This isn’t going to change anytime soon. Health and fitness will continue to be a driving force for the uptake of new technology, and that means more and more opportunities for brands to communicate with growing audiences.

And because brands like Nike, Endomondo and Strava are at the forefront of tech, they tend to be savvy on social. That means there's a lot to learn from these innovators.

The Fitness Networks: Brands Bossing Social Media

Nike's Instagram Tool

Go onto Instagram and hit the hashtag fitness or running and you're almost guaranteed to see a nice scenic shot overlaid with run stats and emblazoned with a Nike logo. With a small tweak to its Nike+ running app, Nike turned every Instagram-loving user into a brand advocate. It’s simple but brilliant.

Endomondo's Challenges

Endomondo was among the first to introduce branded challenges whereby users could compete across the planet and win prizes. Competitions include everything from the most calories burned in a month to the first person to run or cycle 2,000 miles. Brands can own these challenges or users can set them up themselves. This collective goal-chasing is a large part of what keeps Endomondo users coming back for more.

Strava's Community Tools

Strava is probably best known for turning every street in your town into a race with its segments feature. The competition to be the fastest up that hill, or on that 5km circuit has been crucial in their rise, but Strava’s social tools go much further. It's created a conversation between strangers thanks to the ability to like and comment on people’s activities. You start to recognise the active people on your regular routes and this connection makes it one of the most 'social' fitness tools out there.

Say Hello

Are you looking for fresh, innovative content marketing ideas to engage and build your brand's community? Then drop us a line, we’re a friendly bunch and we’re here to help –

Get the latest from Mediablaze

Our emails are packed with digital marketing insight, trends and case studies. On average you will receive one email per month.

Mediablaze on Instagram
Mediablaze on Twitter

30 Panton Street