Old vs. New: How Sportswear Brands Use Social Media

March 23rd, 2021 by

During 2020, we saw a huge increase in consumers participating in at-home workouts. At home fitness influencers and brands—for example, Peloton—grew in popularity drastically during various lockdown periods. With the rise of workouts, the demand for activewear has also increased. As we enter an age of normalcy and gyms begin reopening, the demand for activewear is set to rise even further. 

With this in mind, we want to know the difference in how established brands and new brands use social media to engage and entice customers. We analysed the social presences of established brands Adidas and Nike, and newer brands Gymshark and Lululemon. 


Adidas has a strong presence on Instagram and has accounts for different locations and sports, womenswear, and footwear. All its accounts are updated regularly, and aim to inspire its audience to get active. Adidas positions its products as high quality must-haves for everyone, to be used for every type and level of sport. It utilises most features Instagram has available: feed posts, stories and IGTVs. The variety of content gives its followers different content to engage with and be entertained by. Adidas regularly uses influencer marketing on Instagram to increase brand awareness and reach. The influencer marketing created is product-focused over community building. 

Adidas social commerce

Adidas has begun using social commerce on Instagram. The shopping feature takes followers and general users directly to Adidas’ website, increasing traffic. 

Adidas uses Twitter to share its purpose-driven activities. It is transparent with its followers about its efforts to change social issues within sport. It doesn’t regularly interact with its followers directly, but retweets announcements from other Adidas accounts. The content on it’s Twitter is unique and different to its Instagram. 

Adidas has a TikTok account, but is yet to post any of its own content. However, it has begun to sponsor TikTok creators to promote its products. It has used a mix of esports teams and popular footballers. 


Similar to Adidas, Nike also has specific accounts for location, womenswear and sportswear. All its accounts have a focus on multi-sport use and positions itself as a must-have professional and fashionable sportswear brand. Nike uses sportspersons as influencers, often reposting sponsored content onto its own channels. Nike utilises grid posts, stories and IGTVs to engage its audience. In addition to this, Nike has incorporated social commerce in its Instagram account, and provides direct links to Nike’s website. 


Nike also uses Twitter to share its purpose-driven goals and offers another level of transparency. Nike shares its climate goals and plans, as well as its finance investments it will make to achieve them. Nike’s audience occasionally interacts and shows support for decisions. 


Nike created a TikTok account at the beginning of 2020, and posted consistently for a few months, but has not posted since March 2020. The majority of content produced received over 1 million views, and consisted of trickshots by sportsmen and women Nike sponsors. 


@nikeMason in the front row seat 😎 ##MagicBoots♬ “WOAH!” – Cashino


Gymshark has three main Instagram accounts that are all updated at least once a day, providing its audience with a consistent stream of content. Its accounts have a community focus, posting fitness tips and workouts. Almost every post is UCG and paid-influencer content, making the most of community engagement and influencer content curation. Reposting UGC helps raise organic conversations and engagement, while using influencer marketing increases the reach of the brand. Gymshark utilises all forms of content features on Instagram including Guides, Reels, IGTVs and stories. Gymshark also uses social commerce on Instagram, redirecting customers to its website. 


Contrary to Nike and Adidas, Gymshark uses Twitter to directly and actively engage its audience. It hosts platform-exclusive giveaways where users fill in a feedback form to win a free product. Gymshark posts meme-style, shareable content on its Twitter which receive a significant amount of engagement from its followers. The content is unique from its Instagram content, but still focuses on community building and engagement.  


Gymshark actively posts on TikTok, with new content uploaded at least once a day. It reposts sponsored content and organic content, as well as hosting live events with Gymshark-endorsed influencers. It focuses mainly on fitness tips or comedic skits themed around fitness and receives a significant amount of engagement and shares.


@gymsharkAnyone else hate it when this happens? 😳😂@that_gym_weeb ##gymshark ##gymhumor ##preworkout♬ original sound – Sincere


Lululemon uses Instagram to position itself as a lifestyle brand. It promotes activewear for everyone and shows that its products can be used as sportswear, athleisure or general wear. It reposts organic UGC to its page, as well as utilising influencer marketing. Unique to other activewear brands, Lululemon has branched out into lifestyle by hosting its own book club. It hosts IGTVs discussing books, which touches on a new passion point for users to engage with. As with Gymshark, Lululemon makes the most of all content features on Instagram, regularly posting Reels, IGTVs, stories and Guides. Through using these features, Lululemon has positioned itself as a lifestyle brand, focusing on wellness and health. It also uses social commerce to redirect customers to its website. 


Lululemon engages with its audience on Twitter by sharing product information and releases and shareable inspirational quotes. It hosts polls to generate audience engagement and has joined in on meme-style posts including the “starter pack” trend. 


Lululemon is yet to join TikTok, but it has begun using influencer marketing to create a presence there. It uses popular fashion creators to promote clothing as athleisure and capitalised on the yoga movement on TikTok by sponsoring Yogis. 

Sportswear brands on social media: Key Differences

From analysing these four sports and activewear brands, we have noticed key differences in how established brands use social media in comparison to new brands. 

Nike and Adidas do not rely on social media to push or sell products. They both have large and loyal communities already, and their popularity within the industry sells products for them. Nike and Adidas have begun using social media as a way to be transparent with their audiences. They both share purpose-driven content and are upfront about environmental and social initiatives, and the financing those initiatives receive. 

While influencer marketing is used frequently, it is not used to develop their communities. All influencer marketing is product-focused, discussing the high-quality and performance. 

Gymshark and Lululemon both focus on community building on social media and use an actively social-first approach. Both brands show evidence of mass community building and engagement techniques, regularly reposting and encouraging UGC, running competitions, hosting book clubs and influencer marketing. 

Gymshark and Lululemon use social media to speak to their customers and receive direct feedback. These interactions have aided them in growing their communities quickly, and ensuring loyal customers. In addition, the direct and serious focus on influencer marketing increases the reach of the brand. These influencers often share fitness tips, providing users with valuable content. 

A smilarity between all brands is social commerce. All brands have shoppable Instagram accounts, with some regularly posting shoppable photos. The links used lead directly to the brands’ websites which increases traffic. In addition, using social commerce makes the customer journey incredibly easy which helps turn leads into customers. 

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