Let’s get the obvious part out of the way: social media can be an excellent tool for marketing your fitness business. There are even hundreds of companies focused on teaching businesses how to find clients or make money through social media. These pervasive platforms have woven their way into our daily lives as a tool to connect with people, find local events or businesses, and read the news. There is so much more to do with social media than just marketing.
How can gyms effectively use social media? Showing and speaking about the services you offer is the top benefit of an active social media presence. In addition to that, you can showcase your members and their transformations, educate followers about your modality, create fun content, and even entertain others.
Realistically, even when you are not trying to market or advertise on social media, you are always doing just that. Building an online presence gives potential customers a place to learn about you, see your members, and picture what it’s like to be a part of your community.
Social Media Platforms
There are a few major platforms that most people are aware of, like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Also, there are lesser-known platforms and new platforms popping up all the time. For business use, focus your time on the major social media platforms that your members and potential customers know and use.
Facebook has been around for over a decade now and a large chunk of the population has an account (even if they aren’t very active). This platform has gotten a bad rap for being outdated and overrun by the older generation. The young kids hate to think they’re using the same app as their parents.
Even so, Facebook has almost 3 billion active users worldwide. It is trying to keep up with the more popular Instagram (a platform owned by Facebook/Meta) by adding stories and Reels to its feed. For business use, the real assets within Facebook are pages and groups.
You can create a Facebook page for your gym or business. This allows you to share information like operating hours, link to your website, and create posts on behalf of the business. People can “like” the page and your posts will show up in their feed. By having a Facebook page for your business, anyone can tag your business and allow people to directly access your information without having to link to a website.
Groups on Facebook offer you the opportunity to connect with your members and reach potential customers. You can create private groups connected to your page for your members to join. This is a place to share information, shout out member PRs and successes, and build the community aspect of your gym. In addition to a general membership group, Facebook groups can also be created for events, nutrition challenges, or subsets of your membership.
Neighborhood and town groups are a place where you can advertise your services and connect with potential customers. Most of these groups have rules about when you are allowed to advertise, so check the rules before posting. Oftentimes, locals will ask for recommendations, like a personal trainer for weight loss or a martial arts gym for kids. You can use these opportunities to reach out and discuss your services. If you have recommendations or questions, share them! Being an active member of your local community is a great way to meet people and build up your relationships.
Instagram has half of the active users that Facebook does, but it is constantly growing in popularity. This platform focuses on visual media. It started as an exclusively photo-sharing application and it now offers short-form videos, stories, and long-form videos. This is the platform to see and be seen.
Instagram, like Facebook, allows you to create an account for your business. You can include a link to your website and other business information. By posting from a business account instead of a personal account, Instagram also gives you access to your account insights. These insights tell you how many people are seeing your posts, how they are finding your page, and if you are converting them to followers. All this information is beneficial in seeing what kind of content performs best for your business.
As of late, Instagram has been pushing its video content options. IGTV allows you to post longer videos and collaborate with other users. Reels are videos that max out at 60 seconds. They were created as Instagram’s competition to TikTok. Currently, the application is promoting Reels more than any other form of content.
The most popular Reels fall into one of two categories: educational or entertaining. Your business can use these videos to educate about your modality or just create fun content. Have a class do a viral dance or fitness challenge. There is some nuance to using the right audio and hashtags on Reels, but the best thing you can do to increase viewership is simply posting videos frequently.
One part of Instagram that business owners get hung up on is hashtags. While general hashtags like #fitnessfriday or #bootcamp may get you additional viewers, these hashtags do not target actual potential customers. Focus on local hashtags to get your posts in front of the right people (ex. #AustinTX or #Austinfitness).
TikTok is very popular with the younger generations (but all ages are getting in on the fun). This platform is all about short-form videos. The best videos include beautiful imagery, a shocking twist, a viral dance, or interesting information.
Even though TikTok utilizes hashtags, it can be harder to get your videos in front of your local community. In terms of marketing, this should not be your primary application. However, you can still create content on TikTok. Just make sure you share your account on your other platforms, like Facebook and TikTok, so people know to follow you.
Fitness, exercise, health, and nutrition can oftentimes be boring topics. However, coming up with creative ways to share information or just having fun working out can produce “viral” videos. Show your members (and the world) your personality and highlight the fun parts of your business.
YouTube is not just a video-sharing platform, it is also a useful search engine. Many people head to YouTube when they want a visual education on a topic. As a fitness brand, this is an opportunity to share your knowledge and expertise with thousands.
The videos you create can be on several different topics – how to do a squat, a complete workout vlog, or a day in the life of a gym owner. The ideas are endless. Your members, followers, and community will enjoy watching longer clips of what you have to offer.
There are some professional-level accounts on YouTube. Don’t be intimidated by them. It is not that hard to capture some footage and use basic editing software to create your videos. You can also reach out to your members for ideas and help with creating the videos.
Twitter is not as useful a platform for fitness businesses. The short posts do not allow you to share much information. If you would still like a business Twitter account, use it to link to your other social media platforms or your website. You can also make short announcements to your members (if you have a large group of active members on Twitter).
What to Share on Social Media
Once you have an idea of the social media platforms and what they offer, you need to decide what type of content you want to share. It is also helpful to determine what kind of media you want to create – text, photo, video, or all three. Keep in mind that while your business would love to reach potential customers through social media, your posts are also a fun and interactive way to connect with the community of members you already have. Don’t make your social media all about selling.
Some ideas for posts include:
- Member spotlights and transformations
- Member PRs and accomplishments
- Workout programming
- Photos or videos of your gym and equipment
- Educational content
- Fun times with your employees and members
- Event, fundraiser, and charity information
- Health-focused tips and inspiration
- Employee spotlights
- Short blurbs from your website or blog
How to Manage Your Social Media
With a plethora of platforms and media types to master, getting your business on social media can be overwhelming. Create a comprehensive plan of how you want to use social media to then determine how to execute your plan.
This is a trick used by influencers and content creators. “Batching” refers to creating multiple pieces of content at one time (photos, blogs, captions, etc) but posting those pieces over an extended period. By batching your content, you are efficiently using your time and not worrying about finding time to create a post each day.
To effectively use batching, you first need to create a content calendar or at least have an idea of what you want to create. This could be a series of videos on individual movements or some photos of the equipment in your space. Combine your schedule with your completed content and you will know exactly what to post each day.
Hire a Social Media Manager
This is a relatively new profession thanks to the popularity of using social media for business. A social media manager can take care of everything pertaining to your social media pages. This can include moderating Facebook pages or groups, posting and responding to comments on Instagram, and editing and posting YouTube videos. You can find a manager who can handle whatever parts of social media you need help with.
Depending on the knowledge base of your social media manager, they may need your input for topics and actual photos or videos of your gym. It is important that the manager understands your brand’s voice and represents it well. The manager can also help you create a content schedule and tell you what to photograph or film ahead of time.
A social media manager can be an employee at your gym, a freelancer, or a local agency. Choose the one that is best for your business based on how much you’d like done and how much you are willing to pay for your social media presence.
There is nothing worse than trying to master five new things at once. Begin with one social media platform and stay consistent with your posts. Once you feel comfortable (and confident) with that platform, you can start working on building your account on a second platform and so on.
Facebook is the best platform to start with because your business page and group are immediately beneficial for you and your members. From there you can expand to other platforms and experiment with different types of content.
Benefits of an Active Social Media Presence
The underrated part of using social media is providing your members with information and content. In this age of sharing photos and videos, your members will love to see themselves looking strong and getting healthy. They will be happy to have these posts to share on their pages.
Social media also allows you, as a fitness professional, to share your education and establish your expertise. By giving away free advice, workouts, or education, you are building trust with your community and showing them that you know what you’re talking about.
Now for the income-generating benefit: marketing. Social media is the top way to share information about your products and services these days. Many consumers use social media to look up brands or businesses before reaching out for themselves. This “social proof” is a valuable tool for converting a potential customer to a member.
As you probably know, sales conversation rates are abysmally low. This is why it is so important to get your business in front of as many potential customers as possible. Having social media posts that people enjoy seeing and want to share with their followers can have a huge impact on the number of people who reach out for more information.
Social Media is a Tool, Not an Answer
Having thriving social media pages will not automatically grow your business and send you tons of new customers. It is just a tool to use for engaging with your community and reaching potential customers. Focus on creating great content instead of just trying to get more followers.
For some potential customers, social media is important when they are deciding which gym to join. Therefore, all fitness businesses should have a social media presence. For most gyms, it should not be the only marketing tool.
How the Pandemic Connected Gyms and Social Media
2020 was a pivotal year for connecting fitness businesses and social media. For most areas, gyms and fitness studios were closed for extended periods. Many businesses had no choice but to pivot their business to online offerings. Some of these online courses and workouts are still actively running, even though gyms are now open across the world.
The businesses that had already established their social media channels before 2020 were able to handle these changes better than the ones with no profiles or seldomly used profiles. In this case, followers did equal customers. Many of these followers were suddenly looking for coaching and workouts online.
Regardless of which platforms you choose to use for your fitness business, it is important to have some sort of social media presence. By sharing posts, videos, and photos about your gym, your members, and what you do, you connect with your community and potential customers. Creating fun and educational content offers value to your followers. If it all seems like too much to handle, you can hire a social media manager to take care of the tedious tasks for you. The benefit of getting your brand in front of hundreds or thousands of people can only help you to find more potential customers.