Using engagement to turn followers into brand advocates

Using engagement to turn followers into brand advocates

Fitbit’s shares may have plunged almost 20% following the announcement of the Blaze, the brand’s first colour smartwatch, but this didn’t stop it from becoming Amazon’s number one selling smartwatch just weeks later. Or indeed, myself from buying one.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, technology and I are not common bedfellows (!) yet I’m a self-confessed Fitbit addict. I’ve tried a fair few fitness trackers and apps in my time and in my opinion Fitbit trounces them all. It therefore didn’t surprise me to discover that today Fitbit owns 77% of the market share, competing with big players like Nike. Yet despite recent investment into more traditional forms of advertising, it’s also spent less on marketing in two years than Nike did on a single marketing exhibition. So how has it achieved this?

According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.  If you can master these, you can become the most talked about product in your category, ultimately leading to increased sales… which is exactly what prompted me to buy my Blaze. Despite ‘serious’ reviewers suggesting that the Blaze wasn’t quite ‘smart’ enough to truly be a ‘smart watch’, I was swayed by the glittering reviews from ‘real’ people – people like me – on Amazon and social media.

So how does Fitbit manage to achieve all this with, compared with its competitors, minimal advertising spend? By developing a community and harnessing the power of word of mouth by engaging, equipping, and empowering its followers. Everyone knows that competition is a powerful motivator, and by gamifying the act of keeping fit, Fitbit places a huge focus on social motivation. Every Fitbit tracker automatically uploads user achievements onto any social media platform, keeping the brand top-of-mind thanks to engaging their customers in something meaningful yet at the same time relatively effortless.


Similarly, many of Fitbit’s top performing posts ask for a specific action from followers, such as ‘what choices do you make to stay on track?’. By checking in with its social audience to ask about their fitness routines, Fitbit creates a fitness forum of sorts and increases the likelihood of gaining meaningful comment from its followers. Another important area to excel in today is social customer service – something which Fitbit also does very well.

Last February, Fitbit started a campaign – FitForFood, where Fitbit users could burn calories in exchange for food that would be donated to Feeding America. In the end, more than 106,000 users participated in the campaign, reaching the billion-calorie mark in less than a month. When you are building a sense of community, empowering your consumers to take part in something meaningful, they will feel more motivated, and might even get their friends to help out. This gives them social currency, and puts your brand in a positive light. Another tick in Fitbit’s box.

So what have I learnt from Fitbit – apart from the fact that unless I get a run in pre-work I will never reach my step target? That by providing a great product that really connects with consumers long after the initial act of buying, you can empower them to take on the lion’s share of promotion, themselves.

Gail Titchener,

Chief Content Officer aka Writer

Firework PR

Posted: 1 April 2016

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