Strava thumbs down Facebook Likes & explains why sweating for a Kudos is better

Strava gives Facebook a thumbs down

Fitness-tracking social media app Strava is taking aim at Facebook in its latest marketing 'Give Kudos', its vice president of marketing claims the company is making a push to become the global home of athletes because he believes that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram “don’t feel like the best place to do it”.

The San Francisco company, founded back in 2009, hosted 110m comments and 2.3bn Kudos (its Like) in 2017. Globally it claims to have 31 million users growing at a rate of 1 million a month. As a result its 180 staff are spread across its HQ in addition to offices in Hanover and Bristol.

The brand’s latest work ‘Give Kudos’, created with help from Stink Studios, throws shade at the mundanity of the Facebook feed and urges users to get outside and break records, with the app scoring their progress. The work celebrates their determination, differentiating it from the sometimes literally rose-tinted filters of Facebook and Instagram.

Gareth Nettleton, vice president of marketing at Strava, shared with The Drum how the app is carving its USP: “We’re building a different type of social network and, ultimately, we want people to put down their phones and go and sweat. For us, it’s not about prolonging feed scrolls and we want to provide a space to build a community around these shared passions."

Many athletes do share their exploits on the mainstream social media but Nettleton does not think these services are suited to cultivating active communities. “A lot of people use Twitter as a source for news, Instagram to share travel photos, and Facebook for keeping in touch with school pals and distant relatives. But sharing my activities and sporting endeavours on these other networks doesn’t feel like the best place to do it.”

In fitness, brands are open about how they are trying to engage with their audience base on a daily basis, whether that’s Asics upping its creative output or Tough Mudder moving into media. For Nettleton, this mentality is epitomized by the brand’s call to action, not to download an app – but to join the community. “We say that Strava is a place for anyone who sweats, and it's a place to connect to like-minded people who will help with advice, tips or simply support you with their positivity. In fact, an 8,000 athlete study by Glasgow Caledonian University found that 83% said that Strava had increased their motivation to exercise, and 69% said it made them happier.

“The nature of our platform and community means we can engage with our audience all-year-round through our content platform, clubs and in-app messaging.”

Noting that the athletic community are more likely to be outdoors, the brand invested in its first ever out-of-home work for Give Kudos. It is coincidentally is running in tandem with Facebook’s OOH efforts looking to rebuild trust with users following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Billboards, street-level barricades, bus stops and bike share stations throughout London, Paris, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles were all liveried with the creative.

The work looks to differentiate the difference between a Kudos and a Facebook Like. While there may be a passing resemblance, from a mechanical standpoint, it’s a more powerful reward. Nettleton claimed that users must sweat for a Kudos, they dole them out sparingly in support of their peers' athletic endeavours. “Being a specialised network is an advantage. It gives our product and the community who engage with it a clear collective purpose.

With the summer campaign currently running, all eyes are now forward to January as the brand looks to capitalise on the ‘New Year, New Me’ phrase, in tandem with an anticipated growth in wearable technology.

He concluded: “It’s hard for social networks to be everything to all people. We’re seeing a trend in specialised networks that have a greater connection between the user and the network, and I think that’s good for everybody.”

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