The Fine Art of Finessing Follower Features on Strava

Strava, the fitness tracking app, has been a useful repository of rides, walks, swims and photos thereof, a good source of data, and a fun place to encourage others and to be encouraged. Unlike many social media sites (so far in my experience, and as I’m told), it’s a pretty positive place. This post explores a few of the features relating to followers. If you’re a cyclist not on the app, you may want to consider it, and these tips can help even if you are and may not be aware. And, before I forget, kudos to you for reading this post!

I joined Strava when I got a smart phone at the end of 2015. I started with zero and today I received two new followers, bringing my total up to 219. One is local, one is in Brazil. That isn’t many compared to some, but I appreciate them all. Many of my followers don’t actively use the app much, so maybe 5-10% give a “kudo” to any one activity. It’s understood that you give kudos if you want get them. When someone follows me, I get a notification. If you have your notifications turned off, you won’t know and can’t thank that person. I always do so and include a note. Often they’ll respond and we’ll have a little chat, which is nice. Here’s one from today from Liz:

A chat with a new follower, I’m the first person she followed. Her comment was very nice! Copyright Strava

I was flattered by the comment that she is “trying to get on my level.” Of course, I discouraged her from comparison and encouraged her instead to do her own riding. I mentioned my blog in case she’s interested, plus I’m always open to meeting fellow Strava-ites so offered that, but with no pressure. When using Strava it’s fine to be friendly but not overly so. On a couple of occasions people didn’t appreciate I was just being a friendly dude and we parted ways, but that’s okay. Their loss. Another tip: This follower found me because I joined a new club. Liz must have looked at that club’s activities, saw me, and followed me.

I joined a virtual club. Copyright Strava

Sometimes I’ll get a new follower and then notice after a while my number of followers has gone back down. That’s probably because I didn’t follow them right back so they checked out. I’m okay with that; it’s up to each user to figure out what they want to do. With few exceptions, I generally don’t follow anyone I haven’t met or ridden with. Sometimes I will, though, like when someone is just a bad ass who inspires me or if they’re very nice. That may not be looked upon favorably by the more “promiscuous” Stravaites who connect with anything that moves, but it seems reasonable to me. Especially when they are a very fast rider whom I have no chance of riding with and following them would just be disheartening. There is some intery sports psychology involved with all this.

Keeping up with the kudos takes a time and effort, but it’s interesting to keep up with what your buddies are doing. That’s one reason I don’t automatically just follow everyone; it would take a lot more time. Being stingy with the kudos is one way to lose followers quickly; most people understand or don’t care if you miss a few. I have more followers than people I follow (82), but a number of the former give me the thumbs up even though I don’t follow them back, which is really very nice of them. Sometimes I’ll go through and give those folks a kudo or a few and a thank you with a note included that’s is usually along the lines of “You’re too awesome for me to follow!”.

Another way to get more Strava friends is to invite people you know by email or Facey Spacey if you have it (I still don’t). Here’s what that looks like:

Winning friends and influencing people on Strava. Copyright Strava

Another feature is for someone you biked, ran, swam, hiked or did an activity with who isn’t on Strava. You click on a button to share your effort, and when they see how cool it is, then can’t help but want to join. Or not. I’ve used this a few times at least so they know what they’re missing. If they’re on Map My Ride or another app, though, it’s doubtful they’ll also add Strava. That’s ok, it’s all in good fun. Chasing your personal best is more important than how many followers you have — both on the internet and in real life.

Strava makes it easy for friends you ride with to join, if they want. Copyright Strava

My favorite feature in relation to other athletes happens to be View Flybys. This button takes you to a whole page of sometimes dozens of people you crossed paths with who also use Strava. It knows this because of GPS, in my case on my Garmin vivoactiv HR watch which I sync to Strava. Let’s look at today’s 25-mile bike ride.

View Flybys shows you everyone you passed. Copyright Strava

The View Flybys button is easy to miss, and don’t ask me what the hell Strava Labs is. (The first rule about Strava Labs is, never talk about Strava Labs. Just kidding, I could simply click on the link and read it.) Anywho, clicking on that button, especially when a ton of people have crossed your path, opens another page listing all their rides. It also has this cool map feature where you can see everyone’s progress in relation to yours. This is a whole other world of people to give kudos to who might become potential buddies in the app. A number of my followers come from this, but I often don’t go to the trouble.

The detailed View Flybys page is interactive, just push play! Copyright Strava

From here you can click on each rider and give them kudos and make a comment. I try to be really positive and say something like this: “Nice riding! We had a flyby so I’m just saying hi. -ADudeAbikes.com”. If it’s a memorable interaction, like I rang my bell and they responded in kind, I might mention that so they know who I was. I’ve yet to form a new cycling team or meet Mrs. A Dude Abikes this way, but it’s harmless fun.

Well, those are the main features I wanted to show you relating to friends in Strava. Perhaps you’ve found them to be old news, or new and helpful, or a mixture of both. What tips do you have about this topic? Are you a follower hound or a stingy kudo-giver? Would you consider adding me as a Strava buddy if we aren’t already?

Click here to follow me on Strava!

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