Facebook’s Fitness Apps Keep Users Moving With The Help Of Open Graph

By Justin Lafferty 

The joy of working out with Facebook-connected applications is that even if users are not jogging or cycling with someone in person, they can have the support of their friends list in their pockets. As Steve Kusmer, CEO of Abvio (developers of Runmeter, 5K Runmeter, Cyclemeter, and Walkmeter) points out, users are much more likely to not only keep using fitness apps, but also to stay on track with their exercise goals, if they connect with Facebook.

Many fitness experts note that, especially for those just starting workout regimens, it helps to have friends there to keep motivation up. Why not tap into Facebook friends?

Fitness apps have been quite popular on Facebook. They’ve been featured in the developers’ blog spotlight, and Facebook Vice President of Platforms Dan Rose said Tuesday that fitness will be one of the company’s biggest mobile categories this year.

Several apps, such as Nike+ Running, have unique integration with Facebook. On Nike+, the app will cheer for users whenever Facebook friends like or comment on the open graph stories created once they start runs.

Kusmer talked with AllFacebook about how that kind of social support not only keeps users coming back to the app, but motivates them to continue working out. His company’s iOS apps are heavily integrated with Facebook’s open graph. Whenever Facebook users are out on a walk, run, or bike ride, and friends comment on the stories created in the news feed, the app will actually read back the comments — whether they are encouraging or heckling to go faster.

Kusmer told AllFacebook that the company has seen about one-third greater retention year-over-year among Facebook-connected users, who are then more likely to meet their fitness goals:

There’s a pretty significant chunk of users sticking with our app, and that’s because social means peer support. Your friends are helping you. It’s the very fact that they’re watching you that keeps you on track to keep doing that. I think that’s the really important part of social. It’s like any community: How do you support each other? … It’s unwavering. For me, I know that whenever I get a comment spoken back to me, I’m suddenly going faster. When that happens, there’s a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

Much like with any other kind of activity on Facebook, if friends encourage users to keep doing it through likes and comments, they will probably be more apt to seek that feedback again and again. Additionally, people who are connected to users through different fitness apps can see when their last run, jog, or hike was, so they will be more motivated to go back out there.

It’s the power of social that makes Abvio’s apps so popular. The company has been heavily integrated with Facebook since 2010 and uses open graph actions to keep users connected and coming back. Kusmer said that the company has roughly 1.2 million paid users.

Abvio in January launched version 9.0 for all of its apps, with full open graph support. The apps also store all data on the iPhone or iPad, making it easy for users to have quick access to their information. It also means that app users don’t have to log in.

Readers: What apps do you use when you’re working out?

Main image courtesy of Shutterstock. Runmeter and Walkmeter screenshots courtesy of Abvio.