Garmin: Social Media Analysis / Industry Benchmark Endurance Sport

This is a quick look at some interesting stats from Multisport Research’s Endurance Sport Social Analytics – Gear Report  (Feb 2018). The report starts out with some industry wide stats for each of the 4 major social media channels and then I look, in a little more depth, at Garmin’s social media marketing as an example from the report that many of us might be interested in.

Gary R from MultiSport Research and I used to almost work together many moons ago in pre-sport industry days. To cut a long story short he has let me look at his Benchmark Study of the use of social media in the Endurance sports industry.

This report is somewhat biblical in the breadth and depth of content covered, so a good plot line to this story is to add the Garmin angle. ie specifically how Garmin use social media

If you are a Garmin gadget consumer this might be interesting in how Garmin engage with you over social media and if you are in the industry then you might want to see how you perform against Garmin; although you’ll have to buy the report for that 😉

But first some commentary and higher level metrics from the report over the period including Dec 2017 and Jan 2018.

Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter

The Facebook platform provides the largest ‘Fan’ base in endurance sport with Instagram catching up in second place. Median numbers of fans are: Facebook (40k, up 0.24%), Instagram (16k, up 0.8%), Twitter (6.5k, up 0.13%), YouTube (2k, up 0.4%)

Source & copyright: © MultiSport Research
Source & copyright: © MultiSport Research

Yet size isn’t everything. It’s what you do with it. ENGAGEMENT is a key measure. But interaction and frequency are also important. It might be a surprise to some that Instagram has by far the highest rates of interaction. But perhaps NOT a surprise that Twitter posts are more frequent and that Youtube posts are much less frequent.

Interesting Facts

The report has nearly 300 pages of interesting facts & analyses. Well I thought they were interesting

Here are some of my favourites for each of the 4 main channels. Bear in mind that some of these stats need to be put in context ie comparing power meter company stats with shoe company stats may not be too valid. The report DOES look at the industry sub categories of the 280+ Gear Companies included in the analysis. For the Endurance Sport Social Analytics (ESSA) Gear report, the sub-categories include: Accessories, Apparel, Bikes, Nutrition, Shoes, Software, Trainer/Electronics/Power and Wetsuits.


Here is an interesting chart that illustrates the awesome degree to which the shoe manufacturers attract Facebook fans.

Source & copyright: © MultiSport Research
Source & copyright: © MultiSport Research


Some other factettes:

  • adidas post once every two days on Facebook and has 32.6m fans and an engagement below 0.1%
  • Zone3 have a more modest 34k fans yet a superior engagement approaching 5.1%
  • Polar have over 1m Facebook fans and a 0.7% engagement based on over 4 posts per day
  • Watteam Powerbeat have 6.1k fans but a whopping 19% engagement based on 1 post per week.
  • All these companies do well with ‘weighted Facebook engagement’: Watteam, Zone3, Hope, Cube Bikes, Factor Bikes, Klean, Boco and Compressport. A great campaign from Compressport was through a ‘last comment wins’ competition.
  • Top posts include: giveaways, bike pictures, stories about athletes, training tips, motivational stuff, new products
  • The best time to post on Facebook seems to be Wednesday morning but not at the weekend.
Source & copyright: © MultiSport Research
Source & copyright: © MultiSport Research


Here are some of the better-performing Instagram posts

Source & copyright: © MultiSport Research
Source & copyright: © MultiSport Research

Some other factettes:

  • UnderArmour is the queen of Instagram with LOTS of followers and good engagement
  • Small players that have done well include Myprotein and Canyon Bicycles who have run competitions. We all like a freebie, apparently.
  • ROTOR Bikes do well with engagement levels over 4%.
  • Apparently we all like looking at bikes and hence the levels of interaction with bike brands is high for Bianchi, A-Squared, Orbea, Merida, Factor Bikes and others.
  • Top posts include: bike pics, new products, motivational stuff, high quality pictures and clever text.
  • Frequently used Instagram hashtags are: #cycling, #triathlon, #swimbikerun, #fitness, #cyclingphotos, #running


Source & copyright: © MultiSport Research
Source & copyright: © MultiSport Research

Some other factettes:

  • Someone at adidas has a full-time Twitter job, managing almost 25 posts per day. Although clearly there is a compeittion going on here as someone at Nuun Hydration is blasting out 37 per day. But Nuun’s engagement rate is much better at 0.75% (good) whereas adidas is only 0.03%. It ain’t what  you say, it’s the way that you say it. That’s what gets results.
  • Of companies that you might encounter from topics I normally cover, STRAVA is king with a ‘modest’ but creditable153k followers
  • Runtastic also does well as their users tend to retweet their exercise content more than others.
  • Runscribe come up well for a ‘minnow’ in the industry, topping  the ‘Tweet Interaction’ stats at 0.9%. But with only 791 followers then it only takes a few people like me extolling their virtues to push such percentage interaction stats upwards.
  • Top post types: referencing others, motivational, new products, congratulations on successes
  • It’s not so clear on the best time to tweet, but Tuesday afternoon would be a good bet for a once weekly post.


Some factettes:

  • The endurance section of YouTube belongs to adidas. Half a million subscribers and almost 2.5m views per video.
  • Garmin have almost 100,000 subscribers, like Reebok. But Reebok have 121k views per video compared to 10.5k for Garmin.
  • Companies growing on YouTube: Salomon, Peloton, High5, Cube, TrainerRoad, Zwift
  • Top video types: how to, new products, training advice, entertaining, ‘a day in the life’
  • Again, Wednesday morning is the time to put that video online.


The report classes Garmin alongside many of the power meter companies but also alongside the likes of Polar, STRYD, Peloton, Timex and Wahoo. Garmin are also included in the ‘software’ section of the report.

Garmin are bigger than all the companies they are compared to in this report in terms of turnover. It might then come as a surprise that Polar have a much larger Facebook following (1040k vs 38k) and engagement.

Then, perhaps, Garmin may well have decided to strategically focus their efforts on other marketing channels. Certainly their number one slot in Instagram (192k followers) suggests that they may well see Instagram as an area where they can stand out from the rest with high quality imagery in this high-growth media channel.

Bear in mind these are just figures for Dec2017/Jan2018 and so maybe they could also represent seasonal marketing efforts.

Source & copyright: © MultiSport Research
Source & copyright: © MultiSport Research

Moving on to Twitter. I am always somewhat dubious about the usefulness of Twitter as a marketing tool, mainly because many followers will simply never see your tweets. And even that comment pre-supposes that the company’s tweet contains something more insightful than a clever hashtag or link to content somewhere else. Nevertheless, Twitter followings must represent some degree of interest in a brand as well as the sheer size of the brand itself.

So it’s no surprise that Garmin has a high Twitter following (81k, @garminfitness) which, incidentally, was also growing at 0.25% (good). Perhaps of more interest in this sector’s media channel is the presence of Wahoo and STRYD at the top of the lists.

Of little surprise to me is Garmin’s dominance of the Youtube channel of 475k views vs. second place Wahoo’s 190k views. The report highlights elsewhere that one of the things we like is high quality content. And brands tend to make expensive, high quality YouTube videos. You’ve got to have big corporate budgets to continually produce such content.

Indeed looking at all-time YouTube figures is also enlightening. Garmin have 91million all-time channel views from 1748 videos compared to the next best of Polar at 17m from 398 videos.

Yet Garmin’s position in this media channel is very much of the ‘mature’ kind ie growth opportunities may be limited. So it does not appear in the charts showing brands that are actively growing their video coverage and following, which include: Peloton, Watteam, SRM, Wahoo, Quarq, Tacx, Wattbike, Power2Max and others.

But, then, sometimes you can read too much into such figures. Excellence in the Youtube Channel might reflect a budget committment of £/$50k pa for a smaller company and excellence in the Twitter channel might reflect an interns work scheduling posts one morning a week for a year.

What should Garmin do next?

It’s almost certain that Garmin will understand many of their customer segments better than many other companies understand their own segments. Garmin clearly have a well-developed, multi-channel social media strategy and will likely have the tools and people to monitor and control the execution of the strategy. I think few of us are in a position to add too much insight on Garmin’s marketing effectiveness.

However Benchmarking Studies, like this one by MultiSport Research, give perspective and insight to what the competition are doing.

An internal target of a certain number of tweets is simplistic as it measures output, rather than the effectiveness of the output. So an interaction-based target is cleverer but, really this can only be set ‘randomly’ or based on history. With a benchmark, a company can really see if their marketing has the potential to improve and will better understand where to allocate marketing resources.

What should other industry players do?

Other industry players will range from 3-person outfits to large corporates. This social media stuff is time-consuming and/or costly. People have to take the pictures, shoot the videos and write the words. Messages have to be co-ordinated, planned and scheduled around other marketing events and product announcements. Larger companies are faced with tackling some channels really well or spreading their resources. Smaller companies are, perhaps, faced with the challenge of focussing their efforts over certain time frames or on specific channels. Or just working late into the night.

Of course all this social media stuff is make MUCH easier if you get other people to do it for you for free. That’s you dear reader or, in many cases, my fellow bloggers (I dislike that word…but, hey).

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