Vertical Social Networks Rocking The App World: MapMyRun

Not only Facebook, Twitter and other big players are examples of successful social networks. Many other apps have achieved an impressive growth and the loyalty of their users by creating social networks in other verticals. As people strive for individuality and want to connect with people with the same interests, generic social networks such as Facebook and Twitter do not suit their needs all the time.

A great example is MapMyRun, one of the most successful apps in the Health & Fitness category, where users can track their workouts and share them with the community. By making use of social features, MapMyRun has created a great community experience around workout exercises and has driven its platform to outperform the majority of fitness apps. This has made MapMyRun a huge success for app publisher MapMyFitness, who in 2014 reported to have more than 30 million members in total.

To understand how its social features have allowed MapMyRun to become one of the most successful apps in the Health & Fitness category, we took a deep look into the user experience of its social features.

Here is a slideshare presentation with our learnings:


We see 3 main areas where MapMyRun does a great job in leveraging social features to grow, engage and retain its users:

Onboarding the user

  • Community features are very prominent during onboarding. Right after the first swipe the benefits of joining the community are clearly stated.
  • The users know from the beginning that MapMyRun is a place where they will connect with friends.
  • Facebook as the social login: This allows MapMyRun to take advantage of the existing social graph in Facebook, which enables them to grow their own network quickly.

Driving adoption of social features

  • Notification bubble on the navigation menu creates awareness for social features.
  • 3 prominent entry points to the social features (profile, activity feed, friends) instead of isolating the community into one single area of the app.
  • User generated content is a key element to fuel the social community.

Growing the social graph

  • Recommendation of Facebook friends, who are already members of the community.
  • Adding new friends is possible in all 3 sections (profile, activity feed, friends).
  • Users can post to Twitter and Facebook to share the app. One-to-One invitation via SMS and Email is not personalized and could be improved.
  • Global user search for adding other users is available, too. User generated content can simultaneously be shared to Facebook or Twitter, which can drive organic growth.

MapMyRun is a great example of how social features can make apps extremely successful. MapMyRun has achieved an enormous growth and has become one of the most successful apps in the App Store and Google Play Store. The deep integration of social features has enabled MapMyRun to build a viral and defensible product.

Creating awareness of the social features in the onboarding, a good implementation in the navigation and finally, a well-thought and broad invitation flow, are the three core aspects that are probably very important for MapMyRun’s success. MapMyRun should serve as an example not only for fitness apps, but also for apps from any other categories that want to create a relevant, personal and social experience around their product.