Using Free Content to Increase Brand Awareness & Audience Size

January 1, 2021

Key Takeaways

Content & Messaging — Free Fitness Content: The top 3 content buckets for free fitness content within the competitive set include:

  • Short-Form Workout Videos: Content acts as a teaser for longer form, paid offerings.
  • Fitness Tips: Provides actionable tips for the audience to implement in their workout regime (i.e. how to properly stretch).
  • Live Workout Classes: Helps to build an audience that can then be sold additional content.

Organic Social Tactic — Consistent Post Cadence: Both Women’s Health Magazine and Orangetheory consistently post free workout videos; posting a new workout video nearly every day of the week. For Orangetheory, their consistent post cadence coupled with quality content has led to a +1,632% (+111K) YoY increase in YouTube subscribers to their channel. As well as an average of 32K views per video uploaded. Women’s Health Magazine’s consistent post cadence has helped them build up a loyal audience of viewers, with an average of 41K views per video.

Organic Social Tactic — Instagram Live: Brands such as Tonal and Women’s Health Magazine capitalize on the Instagram Live functionality to post their free workout classes. Instagram Live allows these brands to bring on guests to partake in the workout and draw in more audiences. Also, brands can post the videos to their feed after the live is done as an evergreen asset for their audience to revisit.

Blog Tactic — Quality Over Quantity: Many brands are producing quality content that provides real value to their audience and relates to their product. These brands are using the following tactics to optimize their articles: 

  • Numbers in Titles: Numbers stick out visually and attract the reader’s eye as they scan the page.
  • Gifs: An effective way to visualize content and enhance the reader’s understanding and retention.
  • Incorporate Instructors: Incorporating instructors/ambassadors into articles is a great way to boost the credibility of the article (i.e. having the instructor write the article or provide tips). Linking out to instructors in articles also helps to breed familiarity with the audience and promote their classes. 
  • Relevance: Creating content that is relevant to both the audience and product (i.e. proper rowing machine form to maximize workouts).
  • Internal Linking: Internal linking within articles to aid in site architecture and link equity. 

Spacing: Breaking articles into smaller text chunks (ideally spaced between images/gifs) helps the reader to better understand the article and not get overwhelmed by a wall of text.

Rather than having a paywall or freemium pricing model, brands offer trial programs to incentivize new consumers to sign up for their service.

Fitness Brands - Trial Program Offers

Last March, Peloton offered a free 90-day trial of its app to spur demand, which resulted in 1.1M downloads of Peloton Digital in six weeks.

Peloton - Peloton Digital 90-day trial
Source: Peloton Interactive Inc Q3 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

Currently, only three brands in the connected fitness space offer some form of free fitness or workout content for their consumers, while a high number of fitness brands (e.g., Women’s Health Magazine) and gyms (e.g., Equinox) offer free workouts:

Connected Fitness Brands

Free Fitness Content:

  1. Peloton (Channel: Instagram, Pinterest & Blog)
  2. Tonal (Channel: YouTube & Instagram)
  3. Hydrow (Channel: Instagram & Blog)

Paid Fitness Content:

  1. Apple Fitness +
  2. Echelon
  3. Op e n
  4. Climbr

General Fitness Brands

Free Fitness Content

  1. Barry's
  3. Basecamp Fitness
  4. Women's Health Magazine
  5. Chelsea Piers Fitness
  6. Orangetheory
  7. Forward Space
  8. Studio Three
  9. Rumble

While brands in the competitive set do not offer their full workout videos for free without a free trial membership, some, however, offer free fitness content through their social media channels.

Top Free Fitness Content Buckets on Social Media

Peloton incorporates their instructors into short-form workout “teaser” videos.

Each video features their instructors who showcase moves from one of their classes.

Short Form Workout Videos
Click to view

Peloton also posts carousels that outline moves for different workout genres (such as pilates, and running) that are illustrated by their instructors.

Peloton - Carousels - Short Form Workout Videos
Carousel post with videos of how to do each move with the instructor Kristin McGee

Tonal tested short-form videos (~6 minutes) on their YouTube channel where their their instructors going more in-depth on certain workout exercises.

Example: The video below features their instructor Frances going though beginner Yoga poses.

Tonal - Short-form videos - YouTube
Tonal Yoga | Beginner Bites: Warrior Poses

Hydrow regularly updates their “Hydrow on Deck” series, which constitutes short-form videos of their full workouts and teasers of what is coming out that week.

These videos often feature the entire cooldown or warm up exercise.

Hydrow - Hydrow on Deck
Hydrow On Deck 3/13/20

Peloton posts articles on their blog which are fuelled by their tips from their instructors.

Blog article features their instructor Hannah Corbin.

Peloton - Blog Articles
11 Stretching Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

On Pinterest, Peloton posted a series of pins that show different fitness exercises that are illustrated by their instructors.

The pins link include a link to Peloton’s Instagram page where the exercises are included in a short workout.

Peloton - Pinterest Pins
Click to view

Tonal has built out an extensive master class series called “Tonal Talk” and “Tonal Lab” on their YouTube channel where they provide free coaching with instructors.

Tonal - Short-form videos - YouTube
Tonal Talk | Squat Technique with Coach Pablo, Coach Liz, and Coach Nicolette

Hydrow posts blog articles where they highlight fitness tips & workout routines and include links to recent workouts from their instructors.

Hydrow - Fitness Tips - Blog Articles
Rowing Machine Workouts: 10, 20, and 30-Minute Workout Ideas | How To Use A Rowing Machine: Tips For A Stronger Core

Tonal has a “Tonal Live” workout series where their audience can follow along to an instructor and guest as they go through a Tonal workout on Instagram Live.

Tonal - Tonal Live Workout Series
Tonal Live: Coach Liz x Mark Herzlich

Women’s Health Magazine hosts a free Instagram live workout every day on their channel. This consistent post cadence has helped them build a strong Instagram.

Live Workout Classes - Women's Health Magazine - Instagram Live Workout
Charlee Atkins

Back when lockdowns began in March 2020, Orangetheory started uploading free full-length workout videos on YouTube which led to a +1,632% increase in followers from March 2020 to March 2021*.

Since June of 2020, Orange Theory has gained an average of 3.7K followers a month.

Orangetheory - YouTube Subscribers
Subscriber number for March 2021 is total subscribers as of March 24th, 2021.

Orange Theory has maintained a consistent post cadence, posting an average of 30 free workout videos per month on their YouTube channel since March of 2020

Orange Theory - Free Fitness Videos Upload per Month

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