As fitness influencers on social media seek to gain audiences and build careers based on their health and exercise advice, many are turning to app developer Plankk. Since the company was founded in 2016, it has launched mobile apps for 33 social media influencers, and it currently has 21 more in development.

CEO and co-founder Colin Szopa expects that number of Plankk partnerships to reach 100 by this summer. Given there are more than 300 million posts with the tag #fitness on Instagram, he may well be proved right, and Plankk may flourish in its chosen niche. Through Plankk’s influencer partnerships, the company currently reaches 110 million people worldwide on social media.

“We particularly saw the health and fitness aspect of influencers having a lot of clout over people commenting on their posts, watching their Instagram feeds for workout videos—this was before the days of Instagram Live and Instagram Stories,” Szopa said. “We looked at it as an opportunity to take it one step further by offering an experience that’s more immersive inside a mobile app.”

Szopa says that Plankk tends to shy away from partnering with anyone who has under 500,000 combined followers across their social media accounts on various platforms. A healthy following and engaged audience on Instagram is Plankk’s most trusted measurement indicator when deciding which fitness influencers to create apps for. The company values Facebook as the second-most important platform, followed by YouTube, then Snapchat. Twitter isn’t even considered because, according to Szopa, health and fitness influencers share little there.

The existence of an interactive community is high up on Plankk’s list of desired attributes when working with influencers. Some apps will feature in-app social feeds to allow subscribers to connect with each other and encourage them to reach their fitness goals.

Plankk works with the influencers when building each customized app to ensures it matches their social media brand appearance. Some popular features integrated into Plankk apps include at-home fitness programs, gym routines, nutritional meal plans, calorie calculators, video demonstrations, and individual progress tracking systems. The company also helps with content production and marketing.

Zoe Rodriguez, whose Instagram fitness account has over 423,000 followers, started ZBody Fitness in 2013. Before the app, she primarily sold her workout plans via ebooks.

“My clients love the app, I’ve gotten great feedback on it,” Rodriguez said. “I’m looking forward to continuing with it. Adding different challenges, a macro calculator.”

Her ZBody Fitness mobile app, powered by Plankk, costs $99.99 per year and also offers monthly and annual subscription rates. The revenue from Plankk’s subscription apps is shared between the company and the influencers, and serves as Plankk’s sole stream of income.

According to Szopa, the vast majority of people who subscribe to Plankk-built fitness apps are women. Of the company’s 33 live apps, 30 represent female fitness influencers. The company has only recently ventured into the male side of influencers, including building an app for Shawn Booth, a personal trainer who appeared as a contestant on The Bachelorette reality TV dating series—a show whose audience heavily skews female.

But as influencers build followings and perhaps try to catch the eye of Plankk, not all sharing is good. The company say it is careful to not partner with influencers who spend too much time promoting different products on their social channels, believing an over saturation of product advertisements from an influencer would negatively affect their trustworthiness in the eyes of a consumer.

“When we’re working with some of our partners, we’re ensuring that they’re not promoting three, four, or five different things in a week or a month,” Szopa said. “We really try to help them with building that trust so that when they do promote their app, people say ‘Yeah, you know what, this is candid.’”

By Andrew Cohen from SportTechie

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