The Kayla Itsines Movement: Utilizing Instagram for the Perfect Body & Brand

 

I originally discovered Kayla Itsines and her fitness empire the way that I come across many things these days—Instagram. I remember scrolling through my feed and seeing five of my friends “like” one her posts. Inevitably, I clicked the photo to see what it was all about. The Instagram account, @kayla_itsines, contains hundreds of before and after photos of women’s body transformations from using her “Bikini Body Guides” (aka #BBG on the Instagram community). Along with these almost unbelievable body transformations, the Instagram account contains pictures of the fitness trainer herself, the foods she eats, and motivational quotes. While this was only a few months ago, Kayla Itsines is now a social media celebrity with over with over 4 million Instagram followers.

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Australian trainer Kayla Itsines originally built her fitness empire around a twelve-week e-book program (Bikini Body Guide), which anyone could download for around $50 through her website. The program consists of 28 minute workout intervals targeting all aspects of your body, including your abs, arms, and lower body. The e-book ended up doing so well that she created a twelve-week sequel, BBG 2.0, along with a recipe book, which guides users through what they should eat for every day of the twelve week program, including both meals and snacks. As more and more women began trying her workout regime, Kayla Itsines continually posted content on her Instagram account. While the popularity of the guides could possibly be attributed solely to their great quality and the fact that they actually work, I think that what really made Kayla’s brand take off is her brilliant use of social media.

Kayla Itsines has not only gained a huge following, but has also begun a conversation among women around the globe through Instagram. By adding simple hashtags at the end of her posts such as #BBG and #TheKaylaMovement, Itsines has allowed for women who do not even know each other to come together and motivate each other to stay fit and healthy. In an interview with USA Today, Kayla Itsines explained that she runs her own Instagram account and now, with her global following, must plan her posts for a worldwide audience. This means a lot of different time zones and posts every three or four hours. However after searching through Instagram for a mere five minutes, it is clear that Instagram users worldwide are continuing in Kayla’s BBG conversation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As you can see below, the hashtags #TheKaylaMovement and #KaylasArmy both have over 1 million posts each from women all over the globe. Moreover, the hundreds of hashtags including the BBG brand name exemplify the popularity Kayla and her guides have gained throughout the Instagram community. Kayla has created a huge online fitness community exclusive to women following her brand.

Kayla and her #BBG training program continued to evolve on social media so much so that celebrities such as actors and Victoria’s Secret Models are now following her. Her social media following has allowed her brand to gain enough success to now switch from a PDF e-book format to an App with a subscription based monthly fee.

After having used the guides for a few weeks, I can attest to the fact that they really do work. Even when walking through the Plex here at BC, the popularity of her guides cannot go unnoticed. I see BC girls using her guides almost every single time I walk through the Plex. I think that the key to Kayla Itsines’ success is the fact that she built such a strong virtual community, one that has millions strangers talking to each other over a photo sharing platform. While it seems as though she has perfected the business of Instagram, I am very curious to see what she will do with her brand as she continues to gain traction among celebrities and to see how many fitness trainers will attempt to follow in her footsteps.

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Sources:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/2015/12/21/kayla-itsines-bbg-bikini-body-guide-instagram-katy-hearn/77370434/

http://www.etonline.com/news/180407_exclusive_why_jessica_alba_allison_williams_love_trainer_kayla_itsines_28_minute_workout/

 

8 comments

  1. Very good post Paige. I think this is a very good example of how people can now use social media for business purposes. Instagram is a free way to grow your business and we see this all the time where people become “Instagram famous” and can actually use this to help build a career. In this case, the celebrity endorsements certainly helped her, but more importantly I think the social aspect of of the virtual community is what has made this Instagram so successful.

  2. The Kayla movement is such a great example of Instagram’s ability to foster a virtual community–I also find myself scrolling through all of the #BBG posts every once in a while and follow Kayla as well. I love looking at the transformational photos and at the comments people get encouraging/praising them. It’s been really interesting to observe her business journey from the PDF guides to the app that she now has, all while maintaining a huge and growing follower base on Instagram.

  3. This post originally caught my eye because one of my roommates swears by Kayla’s guides and because it’s close to impossible to go on Instagram without seeing that one of your friends liked her most recent post. In today’s world so much of the media is focussed on beautiful women who have body types that are unachievable for the majority of the population. I think that one of the reasons why Kayla’s instagram is so popular because it’s real women cheering each other on and because it shows that it doesn’t matter how you look now or how you want to look in the future, people still think your beautiful and want to help you a long your journey. I think it’s also encouraging to know that there are people all over the world who are following Kayla’s guides and that if you ever need motivation all you need to do is use the Kayla hashtag to connect with one of her millions of followers.

  4. Nice post. The use of social media for fitness and personal training is certainly a trend that I’ve seen develop over recent years. It not only creates a “cult of personality” but also allows exercisers to both support one another and show off a bit. I think it reinforces itself.

  5. Great post! I’ve been following Kayla now for a while and have been extremely impressed with her ability to leverage Instagram as well as she has. I agree with your point that there’s an appeal to be apart of “the Kayla Movement” and the large supportive Instagram community. I always notice people doing her guides at the Plex too, and usually it’s girls doing it together which is neat to see the community aspect manifest in a physical sense.

  6. I loved reading your post Paige! I completely agree with you about how Kayla used social media to promote her brand even more. Her #BBG is a great way to brand her products just like Apple does with their logo. I also think it is very smart of her to promote her workout regimen on Instagram because it is such a popular social medium amongst the younger generations who I assume would be using it most. It would be interesting to figure out what type of people do use her guides (more females than males, etc). You have definitely inspired me to write a blog post about Instagram being a platform to promote a brand or social movement!

  7. This was an awesome post! Social media is obviously a great tool for trainers (and anyone really) to promote themselves and their business. You clearly indicate how Kayla has been successfully utilizing social media. This strategy has yielded great results for her and for the many people that benefit from her plans and products. As someone who works in fitness, I am inclined to think that there are way more negative results when social media and fitness collide than positive ones. Aside from the spread of rumors and misinformation, #fitspo (https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/fitspo/), that might be inspiring for some people can be really disheartening for others who struggle with their body image or weight loss in general. The community Kayla has helped to form can be really powerful, but there are definitely some dangers to watch out for with fitness and health activity in the digital space.

  8. I think you present an excellent case-study here. What a great success story! A fitness lover who became an entrepreneur through an effective product and genuine “brand” engagement. Social media celebrityism at its finest, I believe. She even pursues the initial response with the 2.0 version and the recipe plans. It’s like testing out the market with a minimum viable product, discovering it’s sustainability, and monetizing further. Seriously awesome to learn about, thank you!!

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