Jul 28, 2010

Social Media Sold Me CrossFit

Last week I signed up for CrossFit. I have social media to thank for it (or blame depending on your point of view).

CrossFit is a fitness regime that’s become popular over the past two years. It’s been around for quite some time, but social media has really given it legs. If you haven’t heard of it, CrossFit is an intense full-body fitness program. Every day the Workout of the Day is posted on www.crossfit.com, and that’s what you do.

Ok, on to the point of this post: social media sold me.

It starts with word of mouth marketing

Here’s what blows me away. I don’t have any friends or colleagues currently enrolled in CrossFit. I didn’t read about it in the newspaper. I didn’t hear about it in my day-to-day interactions. I was introduced to CrossFit through blogs and Twitter.

The first time I heard of CrossFit was from a blog posted by Julien Smith, co-author of the Trust Agents. I scanned the post and moved on. Then I heard CrossFit repeated again-and-again on Twitter. Several people I follow on Twitter were commenting on how sore they were from their CrossFit workouts.

These little comments started to drip on me, and eventually I followed the links to find out what all the hype was about.

User content is powerful social proof

Crossfit.com is not a glamorous site. It’s not a glossy marketing brochure like other fitness sites. It’s a basic blog with a lot of information.

I visited the site, and then I went to Google to learn more. I found stories, comments, blog posts, reviews, videos and more. The content wasn’t driven by a corporation. It’s driven by users. I learned about CrossFit from a collection of user testimonials.

The more I read about the program and the methodology, the more I wanted to get involved. I felt like I was missing out on something remarkable. Story after story raved about these insanely hard workouts. But there was also an undercurrent of community, shared experience and camaraderie. It was so much more than getting fit.

You don’t have to sell a customer when they’re already sold

I finally took the plunge, and searched for a local CrossFit gym. I kind of knew what to expect in my first workout, but at the same time I didn’t. I thought the warm-up was a pretty good workout. I was pretty much ready to go home when the trainer said now we start the workout. It was the hardest eight minutes of my life. When the trainer said, “Good work guys, you’re almost halfway there!” I thought I would die. I’m pretty sure time stopped for those four remaining minutes.

When the workout was done, I was sold. I had been pre-sold through social media, and the workout reinforced all my expectations.

Social media provides scale

I don’t think I would have heard of CrossFit five years ago. There just aren’t enough people in my personal network involved in the program. But social media helped me connect with a much broader community of interested participants.

I see a real opportunity here. Social media eliminates the barriers of geography, and takes us beyond our direct networks. By connecting with a group of like-minded people great things can happen.

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