Sports and fitness are innately social activities, so health brands have reaped huge rewards from the rise of social media.

Two great examples of this can be found in the massive popularity of Tough Mudder and Cross Fit, which emphasise team building and camaraderie alongside physical exercise.

Another business built around a fitness community is Sweaty Betty. It sells sports gear for women online and in more than 30 stores across the UK.

These boutiques offer a drastically different shopping experience to the giant soulless warehouses from the likes of Sports Direct. In fact Sweaty Betty even hosts regular yoga classes and other fitness events.

With so much emphasis on building a community, I thought it would be useful to take a closer look at some of Sweaty Betty’s social activity.

Read on for a whirlwind tour of its various social profiles, or for more on this topic read our post on how Nike uses Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.

Twitter

Sweaty Betty maintains an active Twitter feed that largely focuses on product promotion, however it generally links to its blog or YouTube content rather than directly to product pages.

There’s also a decent mix of fitness articles from other sites, competitions and event promotion.

This soft sales approach gives people a greater reason to follow the account as it’s providing genuinely interesting and useful health and fitness content.

Sweaty Betty does a good job of responding to other users, including general conversations and customer service queries.

This is obviously very important for businesses that are built around a community, as it means customers feel a deeper connection to the brand.

One campaign worth mentioning is the 30 Day Sweat Challenge that took place during September.

Women were encouraged to take a fitness test on day one, then repeat it on day 30 to see how they’d improved after a month.

Sweaty Betty set various challenges during the 30 days, gave out diet advice, awarded prizes and hosted special fitness classes.

If you look at the #SB30DaySweat hashtag you can see that a lot of people got involved with the campaign, with the hashtag being used more than 900 times in September according to Topsy.

Overall Sweaty Betty strikes the right balance between product promotion and customer engagement, and I’m pleased to see that it shies away from posting the clichéd inspirational quotes that are a common feature of the health industry.

Facebook

Sweaty Betty’s Facebook page is big on eyecatching imagery, much of which is also used on Twitter. 

However there’s enough variation that they don’t come across as merely posting duplicate content all the time.

There are around four posts each day and engagement isn’t huge, but Sweaty Betty does a good job of responding to the few comments that do appear.

Pinterest

Food, fashion and fitness are popular topics on Pinterest, which is still a network that predominately appeals to women.

Therefore it’s the perfect platform for Sweaty Betty to engage with its fans and reach new customers.  

As is common with Pinterest, it’s very much a soft sell approach that aims to inspire other users with glossy images of landscapes, fitness activities and diet tips.

The idea is that by promoting the benefits of a healthy lifestyle people will eventually end up buying fitness products from Sweaty Betty. 

However a majority of the pins link back to the ecommerce store - probably more so than on Facebook and Twitter.

Some of Sweaty Betty’s boards are quite overt about this, such as the ones labelled ‘Inspiration for SS14’, ‘Inspiration for AW13’, and ‘Inspiration for AW12’.

While others take a more subtle approach, but are still full of product imagery.

There’s also space for a board of inane inspirational quotes. You have to give the public what they want...

Instagram

Again we see much of the same content posted on Instagram, though Sweaty Betty does seem to make a greater effort to repost images from other users on this channel (that may be my mistaken impression).

In among the product and campaign imagery there are a lot of photos from the brand’s ambassadors and other users.

This is a good way of rewarding the brand’s followers and again underlines the sense that Sweaty Betty is a fitness community rather than just a sportswear retailer.

It has more than 16,000 Instagram followers compared to almost 20,000 on Twitter, so clearly it’s doing something right.

YouTube

Sweaty Betty posts several videos per month on YouTube, with the content varying from product demos to fitness advice to interviews with its models.

The clips are commonly around 30 seconds to a minute long, which makes them more likely to be watched and shared.

Admittedly the product videos are quite boring, but presumably they feature on the relevant ecommerce pages.

There are several longer videos that tie into the 30 Day Sweat Challenge, one of which lasts for more than 30 minutes.

It gives a full body workout and has been watched more than 15,000 times.

These videos are another example of Sweaty Betty's dedication to providing useful content as a means of building a community around its products.

Blog

At the centre of Sweaty Betty’s social activity lies its own blog. This hosts all the articles and videos that are shared via other channels, so none of that delicious traffic gets wasted.

The blog is updated several times per week, often with very short posts that just provide a quick health tip or some event info, but are important for keeping the blog ticking over.

There are also more detailed posts looking at the new product ranges or going behind-the-scenes on ad campaigns.

Key to the blog is the ‘Get fit 4 free’ section that is home to the brands various videos, workout advice, and fitness campaigns. Users can also find details of Sweaty Betty’s fitness classes.

I would imagine this content attracts a high proportion of the site traffic, so there are obviously links to product pages as well.

Overall the excellent range of content on offer makes Sweaty Betty stand out in a competitive market and helps to build long-term customer loyalty.

David Moth

Published 16 October, 2014 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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