Strava is an online community bringing (recreational) athletes together around their (mostly) running and cycling activities. As I’ve written before, the strength of Strava is their focus on social and gamification features alongside of self-monitoring features (http://www.victoris.be/what-can-we-learn-from-strava/). It has made Strava the most attractive online community for recreational runners and cyclist. Originally, their user base consisted of considerably avid athletes, mostly cyclists with a competitive orientation who are perfectly served by Strava’s segment based leaderboards. The social interaction around their activities perfectly fits within the needs of this niche group.
To date, however, their user base is growing and broadening. I see it every day when I get notifications of whom of my friends has joined Strava. They cannot be classified into this original ‘Strava niche population’ of the early days. They are less competition-oriented and care much less about leaderboards in which they’re #3452. They do like to share their activities with their network of friends on Strava, they like to receive kudos and comments and hand them out frequently as well.
The core of Strava is posting of activities, logged with e.g. wearable or gps devices. As of today, Strava has launched a new feature, allowing their user to add ‘posts’ to their timeline that are not directly based on activities they performed. They can share pictures of their favorite recipes, ask questions to their network, share links to relevant websites… All with the idea of giving the user a feature that allows them to share these non-activity based post with their network, without having to write gigantic titles for their activities, or put it into a comment under one of these activities. A good ‘relief’ to an existing ‘pain’ it seems.
A lot of Strava athletes however, seem worried about this update, judged from their reactions on the Strava Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Strava/). Summarizing them in once sentence would go something like ‘don’t become another Facebook or Instagram’. Yet, keeping the types of posts that now go on to these social networks on Strava, is what inspired this new feature.
I think it’s a logical step for Strava to introduce this kind of feature (apart from the fact that the former Instagram vice-president is now amongst their ranks), especially in the light of their broadening user base. But I also understand that the ‘original’ Strava user is scared of the thought of having his/her timeline filled with redundant posts ('how long until pictures of peoples dogs come up on my timeline’). The question is whether Strava wants to stick exclusively with this original user base? Is there much growth left among this group? The launch of this new feature should be framed in the light of this question I suppose.
To be continued…