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Is Strava trying to be the new Facebook?

Will Leedham | 4 weeks ago

There have been big changes for Strava in the last few weeks, and a lot of users are unhappy about it.

We look at how cyclists have reacted, what you can do to put things back the way they were, and what the changes could tell us about Strava’s plans for the future.

The headline change to the Strava feed has been the introduction of non-activity related posts. Didn’t fancy a ride this morning? That’s fine, you can share a photo of your breakfast instead.

People responded the way they always do to change, by complaining on Twitter.

The major complaint seems to be if people wanted to use Facebook, they’d use Facebook. I’ve spent the last few years’ silently unfollowing friends and family on Facebook  in an attempt to escape the barrage of animal videos and dodgy political articles, and I suspect a similar thing will begin to happen on my Strava feed moving forward. But why, people ask, have they done this?

The most likely next step for the Strava feed has to be advertising.

While companies can already sneak sponsored messages into Strava, there is no easy way of doing this other than striking up a partnership directly with them. Sports companies (including ourselves) are champing at the bit to get in front of Strava’s captive audience.

Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter give digital marketers tools to narrow down who sees an advert, but finding the right people for a product can still be hit or miss.

Facebook might know you like cycling, but Strava knows what bikes you own, how often and where you ride them, everyone you ride with, and even how good you are it. In the Orwellian nightmare of online advertising, this would be incredibly valuable. If you own several expensive bikes and you ride them every day, you are exactly the sort of person we want to sell our products to, and we’d love to know who your friends are.

Once people start sharing links to products and articles in their Strava feeds, it’s only a matter of time before sponsored posts start slipping into the mix, and Strava could provide Facebook Advertising syle tools to make this easy to do.

Design and Interface Changes

Other than a switch from a black background to white on the IOS app (lost on me as an android user, we’ve had white for years) the major complaint is that activities are now showing up the order they were posted rather than in chronological order.

Velo viewer has you covered if you are using Chrome on desktop, with a handy plugin that re-sorts activities into chronological order

The usual caveats apply here. We aren’t connected to VeloViewer, we haven’t tested their plugin is safe, and anything you download to your computer you do so at your own risk.

Finally, Strava has decided to switch how it displays split times, so faster splits are displayed with longer bars rather than shorter bars. It seems to me that it’s something we’ll get used to fairly quickly since it shows the same information, but again, people aren’t happy.

Not all is lost however. If you are unhappy about any of the changes, there is a (very slim) chance of putting things back how there were.

Strava are running an online survey to get feedback on the changes they’ve made, and get user suggestions on how the site and app could be better. They are asking for feedback on the ‘non-activity content’ as well as how the new layout and design changes have affected your experience.

Will Leedham

| 4 weeks ago

About this author:
I wasn’t given the choice as to whether or not I wanted to get into cycling. My family bike shop (Leedham’s Leicester) was founded in the 1850’s, and to avoid bringing dishonour to my ancestors, took up the two wheels out of reluctant duty. That said I do head out for the odd spin and know rather a lot about bikes.

I take care of YJ’s digital marketing among other things. Ever noticed those ads that seem to follow you round the internet and all over Facebook? Yep, I’m that guy.
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