What the Health and Wellness Industry Can Teach Us About Good Content

A few months ago, I decided to improve my lifestyle and eating habits. The process has made me into a different kind of consumer in more ways than one. I’ve gotten to the point where I read fitness content as carefully as I read menus.

Before trying to live healthier, I had no idea how much fitness content was floating around online. We’re surrounded by messages about our bodies all day, and every few years someone will proclaim they’ve developed a shiny new way to get healthy. Blogs from athleisure brands, food companies, gyms, doctors, hospitals, dance studios, and fitness companies all churn out content on the fad diet du jour.

There seems to be a latent suggestion online, one introduced by brands, that we all need to decide what kind of healthy person we want to be. Are you a body-builder? A dancer? What are your “trigger foods”? Are you a meal-prepper? Which app do you use to track calories, nutritional facts, workouts, and progress?

Since so much content about health and fitness comes from brands and Instagram models, quality and trust aren’t always guaranteed. Every progress photo includes a promo code in the caption, and every protein powder brand has a blog of free workout routines. There’s such an emphasis on products and promotion, perhaps more than any other industry. Approaching all of that marketing as a consumer revealed a few crucial insights about approaching an audience, improving content distribution, and finding the right tone.

Let audiences build their own communities

I’ve read a lot of branded blog posts which end with something along the lines of, “What do you think about this topic? Make sure to sound off in the comments!” The hunger for attention is obvious and understandable. But talking about your body is personal. I only allow the women in my inner circle to follow my private “wellness” Instagram, and I try to avoid telling coworkers and friends about my new regimen.

The brand that coaxes its audience into engagement most effectively seems to be Under Armour, which owns the wildly popular free app MyFitnessPal. Under Armour separates its content across three blogs and an original video channel, all of which have comment sections filled with earnest people asking questions. There’s also a subreddit with more than 10,000 subscribers, and it’s impossible to read other fitness subreddits without seeing their app or products mentioned in discussions. I don’t know if employees name-drop Under Armour across the site, but if they do, the copy sounds pretty genuine and helpful.

“I started gaining weight in college because of my schedule and not taking care of myself. I realized that I hadn’t been putting myself first and I needed to take a step back and start doing things for me.” . Gabrielle Scozzari was dealing with a demanding grad school schedule when her weight started to get out of her control. At 205 pounds, she realized her late nights and calorie-heavy dinners with friends weren’t doing her any favors. She also recognized that she hadn’t been prioritizing the one thing that was most important in life: her health. After completely overhauling her diet — like cutting back on restaurant outings and nights on the town — Gabrielle lost 70 pounds with the help of tracking her meals and finding healthy recipes on the MyFitnessPal blog. But her diet wasn’t the only lifestyle change she made to improve her health. With a more positive outlook on total body wellness, she found a serious passion for fitness and began to focus on daily workouts to strengthen her “new and improved” body. Today, she regularly posts proof of her sweaty workouts, delicious and healthy meals and the rest of her fabulous life to her Instagram account @fitlifeofgab. Keep crushing those workouts, Gabrielle! 💪 . . . #TransformationTuesday #weightloss #weightlossjourney #weightlosstransformation #beforeandafter #fitspo #fitness #fitspiration #myfitnesspal #MFP

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There’s a difference in fitness content between asking rhetorical questions into the void and congratulating customers on their journey to better health. When your brand posts before-and-after photos of “regular” looking people who credit your products with their success, the call to action (like, comment, and subscribe) is implied.

Answer questions and respect SEO

Luckily for fitness and health brands, people are constantly on the hunt for updated information. Though the business of losing weight is pretty simple—eat less and move more—those who change their lifestyles need a place for good information.

I found most of the blogs I follow regularly by simply entering questions into Google. Over time, I’d end up on the same few sites, which never dealt in clickbait. If I’m googling “foods rich in protein,” for example, I’m not going to sit and read a body builder brand malign all the lesser protein powders on the market and then buy a giant tub of his favorite. I might, however, bookmark a branded blog populated by writers who admit that finding time to cook is hard before getting into some recipes.

Follow- @howtocountcalories for more like this. – Calorie dense vs. nutrient dense. Which one would you pick? 🙌 . While it’s totally ok to treat yourself, being aware of how quickly processed food calories can add up can help make sure you’re not hindering your goals. More info below: . Coffee shop run: Venti mocha frap Iced lemon cake loaf Monterey jack & egg sandwich . My day of eating (I’ll probably eat a little more): Breakfast – Paleo protein pancake + 1/2 cup blueberries Snack – half a grapefruit + handful of almonds + @foursigmatic lion’s mane Lunch – Egg salad jar Supper – Lamb, tomatoes, + purple cauliflower Dinner – Chicken soup Night snack – dark chocolate + four stigmatic cocoa . . Credit- @meowmeix : #cleaneating #healthyfood #fitfood #healthyeating #healthychoices #cleaneats #healthylifestyle #glutenfree #nutrition #paleo #cleanfood #protein #healthyliving #eathealthy #fitnessfood #weightloss #iifym #lowcarb #healthylife #flexibledieting #instahealth #mealprepmonday #getfit #healthybreakfast #breakfast #mealprep #determination #fitfoodie #healthyrecipes

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After reading hundreds of blog posts, it becomes easy to discern the difference between content made solely to promote a brand and good content that answers user questions. The former makes the argument that this brand’s method of weight loss is the only worthwhile strategy. The latter invites the audience to continue consulting the brand during a long-term journey to wellness.

While I’m reading a blog post about protein or metabolism or squats, I try to pick out the implied CTA. If the only CTA is “buy our product,” I won’t return to the site. If the CTA points to signing up for a free newsletter or downloading a pass for a free session, I’m more likely to travel further down the marketing funnel.

Tone is everything

To create good content, brands need to lock in on a subset of people they want to communicate with directly. (I don’t mean determining how much weight they want someone to lose.) Asking questions about the audience is always a helpful exercise. How do their friends speak to them? Are their cardio playlists full of gay anthems or disco or death-metal? Do they want to feel powerful or alluring?

That’s the key: Be specific with your target audience.

The dance studio I attend runs a blog called 305: The Online Mag. The visual branding of the studio is so potent that you can spot it from a block away. (305) Fitness is a neon dance and aerobics studio that tries to recreate the ambience of a Miami club in the middle of the West Village, and the blog reflects that. The copy sounds youthful. The brand went all out with personal stories for Pride Month from their trainers. You can also find goofy recipes for cannabis food, dance moves, and cute ways to tie back your hair while you workout.

Some consumers won’t want to read “5 Females Who Changed the Music Industry” or download a Cher workout playlist by entering their email address, but those who do will commit. And that’s the key: Be specific with your target audience.

Image by Crew / Unsplash

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