After working on Heidi Powell's blog and social media for some time, the Powells asked if I could come on for the launch of their newest baby: the TRANSFORM app. With the creative freedom to dream up just about any strategy (thank you, Heidi and Chris), I wanted both the branding and launch to feel very interpersonal, like you've invited your favorite celebrity trainers into your home (for those doing the at-home workouts), but also into your kitchen for a truly one-to-one, personalized experience, both offline and online, regardless of your starting fitness level, weight, and schedule.

  • 37k downloads within one week of app launch
    • with a minimum of 17k new users added monthly
  • Top 50 on the iTunes Health and Fitness Charts
  • 30k+ visitors to the site monthly in the first month
    • 70% of all traffic coming from social media in the first month
    • 91% of sign ups coming through social media in the first month
  • Launched + Branded Social Media Sites (Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram)
  • App Launch Strategy and Execution:
    • As part of the launch, I created and executed a "Social Media Scavenger Hunt" to drive brand impressions. The hunt included Heidi and Chris Powell's personal social media channels, Heidi's Blog, Jen Winderstrom's (from The Biggest Loser) Instagram, and Bruce Pitcher's (from season 4 of ABC's Extreme Weight Loss) Instagram, among others.
  • We explored many different ways to engage with the growing user base, and decided that a fluid utilization of Social Media Channels as a customer support center and transformation community building (growing to over 10k social media users upon launch of the app) was the best way to grow branding and continue excitement with our current app users/community.

My digital marketing strategies are heavily influenced by my background and experience in the academic world, specifically interpersonal communication. If you're thinking, "wtf does that mean," you're likely not alone, so keep reading.

Using an interpersonal theory known as "The Strength of Weak Ties," which is also used in big data analytics and social physics, I crafted a social media scavenger hunt for the TRANSFORM app's official launch.

20k downloads in just the first 24 hours later, I'd say, we hit this baby out of the park. Secret insider tip: The goal I originally pitched was 10k, with a hopeful, but not necessarily realistic, 15k. I will note that I try to be as realistic as possible with my clients when setting goals and strategies.

Strength of weak ties: In 1973, Mark Granovetter wrote, "The Strength of Weak Ties" which basically explains how information flows and how connections are made. To understand this better, think about it in two ways: First, if you are person A and your friend is person B, you and your friend likely know a set of people (C, D, E, etc.). From this, the strength or weakness of a tie is based on your connection to the person. In other words, your best friend is a strong tie, and a friend of a friend is a weak tie. Secondarily, when we apply this to social media, we are likely to engage with people we are merely acquainted or even a public figure who we don't know, but have seen on TV, or even a celebrity animal like Grumpy Cat. We engage more so online than we might offline (where my fellow introverts at? Am I right?).

Through this theory, we find that your weak ties are integral to sharing diverse, but mutually beneficial information, and perpetuating the flow or sharing of information across different groups. In other words, you get more diverse interests and opinions from your distant acquaintances or "weak ties." Applying this to purchasing behavior means:

Users who don't follow your brand can discover you through your "weak ties" with a higher than average conversion on purchasing behavior because you are tied, and therefore likely sharing values and interests.

Here's another photo of Zhoe to make sure you're still here. Side note: The app launch date was actually delayed beyond our original date due to a technical issue, and I used a photo of my pug to announce it on social because if all else fails...show the people babies or dogs. Works. Every. Time.

Back to the launch: Your brand is likely also tied with other influencers whose followers can be leveraged as your weak ties. For Chris and Heidi Powell, this was something we wanted to build on by sending clues, through weak ties, to users that take them on a journey through the internet.

The key here is that the algorithm on various social sites decreases organic visibility, so using weak ties means increasing visibility among people who follow BOTH you and your tie. It also means getting your brand in front of a diverse set of users who may not follow you, but are likely interested in your product. This essentially means that you are greatly increasing brand visibilities.

Since the app has several different programs, and therefore different target demographics, we wanted to focus on physique training, weight loss, and cross training. The main goal was to make all of the programs feel like a community without one interest alienating the other. To do this, we leveraged the following weak ties who provided clues that took people from Chris and Heidi's social sites, to Heidi's blog, and to various other online spaces: Jen Widerstrom from The Biggest Loser, Bruce Pitcher a familiar face from Extreme Weight Loss, IFBB Bikini Pro Cori Fit, and a few others.

Is this launch strategy good for everyone? No, but it fit this specific client. Truthfully, there isn't a one-size-fits-all strategy out there. If there was, that would be easy for your brand, and even easier for me because I'd rarely have to use critical thinking skills (ok, on second thought, that sounds super boring). But, the big takeaway is that even in the digital space, it's important to keep it social and connect with the influencers who have real engagement and a real sense of community.

Looking for more brand strategy? Hit me up: gnickas@gmail.com