Using Content to Connect & Support as a Product-Based Brand
We want to help you stay connected to the content industry, even while we all have to stay apart during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, to help replace all the meetups and conferences you’ll be missing, we’re launching a series of virtual conversations between Setka’s CEO and leading content experts.
The world needs great content now more than ever, and we hope these insights inspire you to keep creating it!
Co-founder and CEO at Setka
Many product-based brands were becoming wise to the power of content pre-COVID, but once the pandemic hit, they started turning to content more and more as a way to connect with customers from afar, to support them, and to create an entire digital experience around the product they’re selling.
As the associate editor of Fitbit’s blog, Kimia Madani has been an expert in content marketing for a product brand for some time now. Though Fitbit’s business model is centered around its physical products—primarily its well-known fitness tracking wristbands and smartwatches—content plays an important role in inspiring its users (or potential users) to live an active and healthy lifestyle, and in helping support their wellness goals. The blog team also works with a number of other functions at Fitbit in order to publish stories around company-wide campaigns and initiatives, feature updates, new product launches, and more. In other words, content is critical for marketing, for user experience and retention, for brand voice and thought leadership in general, and so much more.
And Kimia has had to wrap her mind around how to tackle all of that, through COVID, no less. Luckily, with her years of editorial work in the SF Bay Area along with her experience running her own lifestyle blog on the side, she’s been able to stay nimble and stay focused on being there for Fitbit’s audience. We got to sit down and chat about how other product-based brands can best integrate content into their strategy—during the pandemic and well into the future.
— The Fitbit product is obviously core to your business, but do you consider your content a critical part of the product or of the Fitbit experience? How does content fit into Fitbit’s business or marketing?
The blog team is part of the Global Brand Marketing team at Fitbit. As the purest form of the Fitbit voice, the consumer-facing blog plays a large role in amplifying our brand narrative and message.
The blog has existed for a number of years to provide additional insight to those who are curious to learn more. For example, you’ll see many blog posts featured on the Fitbit Community feed, and linked out to from within the Fitbit app.
We currently publish according to five different verticals:
• Fitbit News
Encompasses product launches, company-wide announcements and initiatives, and more
• Feel Good & Be Inspired
Our mental health and well-being verticals
• Eat Well
Our nutrition and healthy recipe content
• Get Moving
Our most popular, fitness-oriented vertical
Through our content, we support a direct connection with our community of users and readers—so it’s a huge priority to continue to cultivate that relationship with our Fitbit family through relevant information, inspiration, education, and solutions.
Now, with COVID-19, it’s clear that users and readers alike want more, and we’ve been able to provide them with just that—more inspiration, more insight. I would say that the blog is a critical part of what differentiates Fitbit as a platform, and not solely a device company.
— The fitness world has undoubtedly changed dramatically in light of COVID-19. How have you been using content to support your audience through this time? Is there anything about your strategy that has changed because of the pandemic?
Absolutely. We’ve seen from our series of COVID-19 data stories that people have changed their habits and are finding new ways to exercise in light of shelter-in-place mandates. Silver lining? Even when we were in full lockdown in most places in March and April, people were actually moving more, and sleeping better as well!
As for strategy and just sheer output, I’d say I had to pivot very quickly to publishing more content, far more rapidly, and making sure the content we’re providing is timely and relevant to what’s going on that week. During COVID-19, things have been changing so often that we quite literally looked at content planning on a week-by-week basis at some points.
When shelter-in-place first started, the blog was a part of ramping up the monthly newsletter email series to one on a weekly cadence, called the Weekly Boost. We’ve since transitioned back to monthly, or the Monthly Boost. Listen, “quarantine fatigue” is real—and we’re doing our best to listen to the data in order to make informed decisions about when to pull back or amp up, depending on when our readers need more or less.
Making a Difference Beyond Content
Fitbit has taken on some incredible company-wide initiatives, like the creation of Fitbit Flow, an emergency-use ventilator (technically, it’s a high-quality, low-cost automatic resuscitator that is designed for emergency ventilation), to help make a difference in the global fight against COVID-19.
I got the chance to interview the research team to chat with them on Zoom about how they dove into this secret project while primarily working remotely themselves.
They went from development and testing through designing a device that builds on the standard resuscitator bag paramedics use, in an extraordinarily short amount of time. Fitbit Flow received Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA for use during the pandemic, in situations where all of the conventional ventilators are no longer available.Read interview
— It seems like you all have access to a wealth of data from the Fitbit product. How do you think about integrating that into the content in ways that are valuable to your readers?
We’re able to work closely with the Data Science team to look at population level, anonymous, aggregated data to share unique story angles on the blog. A recent post we published around how users’ sleep behavior has changed during COVID-19 is one example.
We have an amazing team of data scientists who are able to help me distill all the data we have and look for interesting trends, so I can’t take credit for any of that! As for the blog, I am constantly striving to package that kind of information into consumer-friendly and relatively easily digestible content.
The blog post about our Wellness Report feature, available in the paid membership experience of Fitbit Premium, is a great example of this—it’s an overview of this comprehensive report with your health and wellness data, like sleep, heart rate, and weight trends, all in one place! You can download it and share it with your doctor or other healthcare professional in order to have a more informed conversation.
— How do you all think about measuring the success of content at Fitbit? What does a successful piece of content look like to your team?
We look at a number of factors. Primarily, we glean our insights and successes from metrics like amount of users, pageviews, and more. We’ll also take a look at SEO performance, or at opens and click throughs of blog posts that are featured elsewhere—for example, in emails like our monthly newsletter series. Again, blog posts are often featured on the Fitbit Community feed or in-app, so there’s that too!
— How do you think your background in blogging helps you when it comes to creating successful content marketing?
I like to think it’s made me more nimble. I really strive to take my knowledge and understanding of what’s timely and trending and translate that to what will and won’t work for the Fitbit brand and voice. What can we speak to? How can we use our expertise as a health and fitness brand to provide valuable insight and inspiration for our readers?
I’ve always been passionate about curating lifestyle and wellness content, with the belief that creating the right content truly does have the potential to change people’s lives for the better—to entertain, inspire, and even to motivate them to take action in their own lives.
— What advice do you have for other product-based brands on how to integrate content into their strategy?
Know what you can do and speak to, versus what may not work for your brand. Figure out how you can turn what you’re offering to a user and consumer into a more holistic experience for the reader, then harness it. Today, providing value and insight from a content standpoint is not only expected, it’s a way to take your product-based brand from just the product itself to a memorable experience for the consumer.
— Any content advice for other fitness-specific brands, particularly in light of the pandemic?
Staying nimble is a big one. Things are changing rapidly, every single day, with this pandemic—and like I said, “quarantine fatigue” is real. Look at ways you can provide a unique approach or perspective: How can you integrate, promote, or point to virtual workout or fitness content in new and fresh ways?
The more you can adjust and adapt to provide exactly what is needed for your audience, the more they will view you as a valuable source of insight that stands out from the rest of the content that’s hitting their inbox on the regular.
ILLUSTRATOR: Khadia Ulumbekova
This post was designed with Setka Editor, a new editing plugin for those who care about high-quality content.
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