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January 14, 2022

Spotlight on GYMSHARK: The home-grown experts in influencer marketing!

By: Peter Gregory

Want to use social media to get in front of more customers this year? We can all learn a lot from GYMSHARK!

Millennial activewear brand Gymshark went from a bootstrapped bedroom business to a billion dollar brand in less than a decade. How did they do it? Through influencer marketing!

By carefully selecting, then supporting, a small group of social media stars, Gymshark managed to put their brand in front of millions of potential activewear customers. Gymshark’s influencer campaigns propelled their business into the stratosphere … and the great news is, there’s nothing stopping other UK clothing businesses from doing the same thing!

In this article, we’ll look at 3 specific examples of Gymshark’s social media influencer marketing strategy. We’ll explain the simple techniques Gymshark are using in each case study, and you’ll get an idea of how these techniques can be applied to your own business. Read each case study carefully — before you know it you’ll be a dab hand at using social media to build your customer base!

Using influencers to grow your business … the Gymshark way

If you’re skeptical about the power of social media, then the Gymshark story is worth listening to … matter how big or small your business is! The three case studies below give three examples of how Gymshark has partnered with social media influencers in the past:


Case Study 1: inviting Matt Ogus to Birmingham

Back in early 2013, Gymshark was still a very small business, focused tightly on the UK bodybuilding community. The founder, Ben Francis, and his friends were hand-sewing and screen printing each garment individually, then packing and shipping orders placed through the gymshark website. In 2013, a good day of sales was around £500. 

It was at this point that Gymsharks’ first social media project took place. Gymshark booked an exhibitor stand at Bodypower Birmingham 2013, then invited a handful of bodybuilders in the YouTube community to join them at the event. Gymshark offered to pay flights and accommodation, and the social media influencers promised to bring themselves and their cameras. It was that simple!

Bodybuilding fans attending Bodypower 2013 all flocked to the Gymshark stand to see and meet these social media stars … and the impact on Gymshark’s sales was almost instant. In a 30 minute period, Gymshark took £30,000 worth of orders from all over the world (source: The Times). Ben Francis had to temporarily shut the website off just to catch up on all of the orders. 

Gymshark’s 2013 Bodypower campaign put their brand on the map in a massive way … but the technique they used wasn’t sophisticated or complex. They just offered to host some social media influencers at a popular event, and asked for a little promotion in return. 

Matt Ogus was one of Gymshark’s guests of honour at Bodypower 2013. If you look at the first 20 seconds of this YouTube video, you’ll see that it starts with a simple ad for the exhibition, and includes a link to the gymshark.co.uk website. There’s nothing sneaky or underhand about this video. It’s simple, it makes sense, and it puts the Gymshark brand in front of Matt Ogus fans. 


Case Study 2: Stefanie Moir in the early days (2016)

Which would you rather: a massive audience or a relevant audience? When you’re trying to promote your brand through social media, you don’t need to focus on superstar influencers with millions of followers. A social media star with a few thousand people who are genuinely interested in what you sell will often be just as effective. 

Stefanie Moir is a vegan fitness blogger from Scotland. Nowadays, Stefanie has almost 500,000 fans on Instagram, but back in 2016, Stefanie had an audience one-seventh the size (source: Daily Record). Her audience figures weren’t impressive back then, but the marketing brains at Gymshark could see that her audience (vegan bodybuilding fans) would be interested in the kind of activewear that Gymshark were selling. 

If you look at this video from the early days of Gymshark’s relationship with Stefanie Moir, you’ll see that — once again — there’s nothing difficult or confusing going on here. Gymshark have sent Stefanie some samples to try on and talk about.

The number of views on this video isn’t massive, either; it’s had less than 25,000 views over the past 5 years. The reason this video works so well is that it’s being seen by people who are, without a doubt, the right audience for GYMSHARK. Stefanie’s passion for the Gymshark range is pretty clear, too!


Case Study 3: Making waves for Nikki Blackketter

Gymshark upped their influencer collaboration game in 2017 when they paired up with social media influencer Nikki Blackketter to create the ‘Nikki Blackketter by Gymshark’ collection.

Gymsharks’ budget for social media and marketing had clearly increased since Bodypower 2013: instead of inviting this influencer to a trade show, they opened a pop-up shop in New York, just for her! 

What makes this event so special isn’t just the glamour and expense of creating a pop-up shop: it’s the fact that Gymshark found a way to make an event happen for their influencer. Just like Bodypower 2013, Gymshark were able to give their social media star a chance to step out and meet fans face-to-face.

This is what engagement should really be all about on social media: not clicks and comments, but face-to-face interaction. Fans meeting stars and buying clothes! You can learn more about this one on Gymshark’s website here.

Why Gymshark’s influencer campaigns are the gold standard

Gymshark aren’t the only people who use influencer marketing. Influencer outreach is a technique you’ll find in the marketing toolbox of lots of clothing and fashion businesses. In fact, we’ve  got a more in-depth explanation of how to run an influencer campaign on our website here. But Gymshark are by far the best influencer marketers out there … and they’re from our neck of the woods too!

What’s important about Gymshark’s approach was that they picked influencers that genuinely appealed to their own customers. The YouTube and Instagram stars that Gymshark paired up with already had the trust and respect of Gymshark’s existing customers, so it stood to reason that Gymshark would be of interest to the influencer’s followers, too. It was a small and logical step for a social media fan to click on a ‘buy Gymshark’ link, because they were already legitimately interested in what Gymshark was selling. 

What’s more, Gymshark were offering something to the influencers, too. They weren’t just shipping anonymous boxes of swag to anyone with a Youtube account — they were coming up with ideas that appealed to the social media stars themselves. Whether it was free tickets to a bodybuilding exhibition or a full-scale retail experience, the influencers wanted to get involved. This enthusiasm carries through in all of the content these influencers create with Gymshark … and it shows.

When planning your own social media activity, think about how you could get your brand in front of passionate, interested, relevant social media influencers. Then think about how to appeal to the influencer too. Remember that relevance is more important than audience size, and don’t be afraid to get creative! 

Follow Gymshark on Social Media

To follow Gymshark’s latest antics on social media, just take a look at the links below.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCma7hhYJ3bfEhZgw3xl77ww

https://www.instagram.com/gymshark/?hl=en

Thanks for reading!

Pete

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