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Why placing live fitness content on social platforms is leading us to failure


Why spend the next five minutes reading this blog? Here’s the TLDR (too long, didn’t read) summary:

  • Loving the live content everyone
  • But it’s in the wrong place
  • True value derives from ownership and an ecosystem
  • Creating such an ecosystem is easier than you think

Ready to read on? Let’s go.

A few years ago, emboldened by a wave of new live social media platforms (e.g. FB Live), I started a business. A start-up, we were going to license TV programming and use the audience and advertising powers of these platforms to start a new TV network.

I thought big, I got business cards made up, I had a professional headshot taken where I looked quizzical. Unfortunately, neither my side-eye nor my idea were strong enough and I eventually wrapped things up and took a proper job with a desk and an actual working business model.

Failed ideas or not, though, I’m still interested and watching closely to see what’s working on social platforms – and, more importantly, whether we’re making it work for us.

When it comes to the fitness industry, we aren’t.

We’ve gone big on live content – and equally big on social to make it work. And sure, that makes sense, particularly in our current environment. COVID forced us to work quickly to support members at home and keep our teams engaged and interested, and social was an easy answer: the audience was there, the tech worked and you didn’t need to build anything to get your stories told.

However, the question isn’t whether social generates eyeballs. It’s how and when to use it, and we’re getting it wrong.

Generally speaking, what the fitness industry has got right is the content: at its best, it’s local, relevant, frequent and, from a production standpoint, disposable without being throwaway.

By using Instagram, Facebook and Zoom, the fitness industry has also steered clear of some of the big mistakes made by other sectors; there have, fortunately, been no attempts by our sector to invent a new medium. (As an aside, to try and ensure that remains the case, a cautionary tale from the broader media business: namely the repeated, and repeatedly unsuccessful, attempts to re-invent short-form, social-type content as a premium experience. Take Quibi, for example: a US$2bn failing bet by execs to shoehorn high production values into a ‘snackable’ content size. Or Verizon’s Go90, a US$200m bonfire that attempted to achieve the same ambition.)

What feels clear is that the template for producing for social media content has been set: it must have a measure of relevance to most of its audience, must quickly engage, must achieve the minimum standards for production quality (e.g. an iPhone). Tick those boxes and you’re good to go.

However, what I think our industry is still learning is how to fully harness the power of the content we make for live (or on-demand) platforms.

We’re mistaking the simplicity of the transaction – the costs to host and to attract an audience – as the measure of success. What this overlooks is where the true value of making your own content lies, and that’s within an ecosystem. Yes, an ecosystem. They are everywhere when it comes to content; your content should live in one too. It’s why Amazon Video is part of the Prime membership, why Apple TV is part of the Apple One subscription service, and why Peloton isn’t just a bike. Done right, your content drives the audience to the rest of your business.

It’s vital to understand that your live content, as part of your ‘digital gym’, has the same metrics as your physical gym. Generating visits to either of them triggers the same result: reduced churn and greater attachment to your brand.

On that basis, your live content – indeed, any and all of your content – should be hosted in something that represents your brand, not a third-party site where you control neither the data nor the experience.

Social media platforms are great for impact and/or to muster a large audience for an event. But to sustain your digital business, you need to build a platform that’s yours. A platform that will become the start of your digital ecosystem.

Wexer is here to make that platform a reality for your business in as little as seven days from signing a contract with us. Fully branded, bespoked to your business and ready to receive whatever content you choose to upload – both live streamed and on-demand – it is the ‘any time, anywhere, any device’ platform you need to channel and own the power of the content you create.

For more information about our Web Player please contact us at info@wexer.com



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