Orangetheory Fitness offers more than killer workouts, it offers community. Boasting nearly a million members, the fitness giant has its customers in the palm of its orange hands. Community marketing is effective because it relies on fostering meaningful connections centered around one’s business, thereby increasing customer loyalty.
I can vouch for Orangetheory’s irresistible pull. They won me over years ago.
So how do they do it?
Worldbuilding as a foundation for community marketing
Worldbuilding is usually something discussed in a creative writing class, but it can be applied to community marketing strategy too.
Instead of creating a fictional world for a screen or pages, businesses can create branded worlds in which customers take up residence.
With any business, consistent content is key to developing a branded world, from color scheme to messaging. Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, you name it; all social media platforms further a business' worldbuilding.
Businesses with physical locations should have the same basic design, with room for layout changes and other small variations. Think of chain restaurants or coffee shops. When you go to Starbucks, you want it to feel like Starbucks.
Customers' expectations must be met to maintain the integrity of the world.
Orangetheory has done just that, building a world of consistency complete with its own vernacular, so to speak. Treadmills are treads. Base pace is the "challenging but doable" speed you hold on the treads. Walking recoveries are heaven-sent. Splat points are the coveted orange icons accumulated with each minute in the orange or red zone. The list goes on.
The coaches, like leaders of the branded world, are trained to deliver classic Orangetheory pep at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., ensuring consistency and customer satisfaction within the Orangetheory community.
The OTF app
Orangetheory's app is an extension of the world. It's the community's digital center, where members can go to book classes, rate workouts, track progress, see performance data, and more.
It's personalized and user-friendly, and not just in the sense of being easy to navigate, it's literally friendly toward the user. The language is encouraging and upbeat, like "Way to crush it."
Orangetheory's tone is that of a motivational speaker. It rallies the community to use its workouts to get "more life" and to do so together, celebrating milestones along the way.
Stickers are also available through the app, so that members can spread Orangetheory love outside of class and social media.
I've used the Orangetheory stickers more times than I can count when texting friends about classes, benchmarks, or new coaches. The stickers add to the community's language like emojis add to textspeak.
Another smart part of Orangetheory's worldbuilding? It's the same world for everyone, down to the workout.
Every studio uses the same workout template, so if my friend and I both take Monday's 2G class at different studios, we'd still be able to talk about the class afterward.
Community marketing becomes easier when you're business is backed by solid worldbuilding.
380k people follow the main Orangetheory Instagram account. That's on par with major fitness companies like SoulCycle (386k) and Barry's Bootcamp (344k).
How did Orangetheory amass such a large Instagram following? Member or not, you wouldn't be inclined to follow the page if it weren't adding value to your feed. Orangetheory milks Instagram for all its worth.
Keeping up with trends
Staying up-to-date on today's trends is imperative to community marketing success, as discussed in our first Marketing Mavens blog. Trends are many and short-lived, meaning there is a lot to keep tabs on.
To ring in last autumn, Orangetheory contributed to the pumpkin spice latte (PSL) marketing push, usually monopolized by Starbucks and slurped up by girls in sweaters and infinity scarves. The fitness twist? PSL became "press, squat, and lunge."
In the same vein as participating in trends is acknowledging hot topics to stay current.
When Ticketmaster was under fire for poorly handling the influx of fans clamoring for Taylor Swift tickets, Orangetheory posted: "Who knew getting concert tickets would be harder than Hell Week."
Hell Week detour: It comes around Halloween. Eight days of higher intensity templates. But if you complete enough days, you get a cool Hell Week shirt. Orangetheory outfits the community with matching pieces to further establish the group connection.
#OTFUnfiltered community hashtag
Orangetheory's branded hashtag heightens the sense of community, plays on trends, and engages members all at once.
Shared experiences born from the aforementioned consistency and worldbuilding allow for inside jokes and relatable social media posts that only members of the community could appreciate. This sells exclusivity of the harmless variety, more so aligned with belonging.
Q&As for the community
To maintain an active community on and off social media, ask questions.
For example, Orangetheory asked its Instagram followers to comment what song puts them "into beast mode." The caption combined the POV trend with specific Orangetheory copy that members would relate to. "POV: it's the final 30 seconds of your workout. What song is making you go ALL OUT?"
That October post generated over 300 comments, OTFers enthusiastically typing out their song choices. (Yes, community members have a name. That's another great community marketing strategy.)
Hearing from the source, that being the customer, is exponentially more powerful than hearing from the company itself. Orangetheory regularly shares member testimonials to its page.
OTF staff can tell us its workouts are worth the money, but they're as biased as can be. A member fits more into that “just like us” role that we can trust. They, too, once questioned Orangetheory’s value, and now probably have enough merch to dress up a family of five.
Wide target audience
One of my favorite things about Orangetheory is that it's made for everyone.
There is no specific target audience. It's for every age, body, and fitness level. Sure, if you're a competitive powerlifter, the free weights aren't going to do it for you, but generally speaking, anyone with an interest in HIIT workouts is a good candidate.
Orangetheory's wide target audience opens the door for a large, thriving community.
Once you step under the orange lights, you're not just an individual with unique goals, you're part of a team. That's what Orangetheory sells, and it does it well with the help of worldbuilding and consistency.