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Social Media Marketing 101 for Boutique Fitness Businesses

Tuesday, November 12, 2019
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Fitness Business

Social media can be ripe ground for fitness businesses looking to connect with new customers, especially if you’re on a shoestring budget. 

In the last six months alone, 44 percent of consumers reported an increase in their personal use of social media platforms according to a recent report by Sprout Social. 

All that extra screen time means massive opportunity for you to engage potential customers and drive them to your business: when consumers follow a brand on social, 87 percent say they are likely to visit that brand’s website or app. A whopping 77 percent told Sprout they’re more likely to buy from brands they follow on social media. 

But without a focused social media marketing strategy, you can spend countless hours racking your brain for new, creative content, wondering if anyone is going to see it, and worse, not see any tangible boost to your bottom line. 

Don’t give up yet! We’ve got the basic who, what, when, where and whys of social media marketing for small fitness business owners covered, so you won’t have to wonder “how.”

In this week’s post we’re focusing on two of our favorite social media sites: Facebook and Instagram. (You can follow us on Facebook here and Instagram here)

Who?

It’s critical when forming a social media strategy and creating content to know who your fitness or yoga studio’s ideal customer is. You want to be able to talk their talk, find them where they hang out most online, and let them know they’re part of your tribe. Consider partnering with local businesses that you know your peeps frequent to share content. For example, is there a smoothie and juice stop your clients love to hit up after class? They may be more than happy to share your posts if you share theirs. Consider offering special deals to each other’s customers. 

If you’re still unsure who your target audience is, take a look at your most loyal students -- the ones who attend class most regularly, bring in friends and family, and generate the highest sales.

Here’s a marketing hack that will let you use sophisticated social media platforms' advertising algorithms to reach your exact right customer: Use the email addresses of your top customers (Punchpass stores your customers’ emails for you) to create lookalike campaigns in Facebook and Google Display. 

When you create posts, showcase your special personality (yes, your business has its own) with photos and comments from and about real people: your studio's instructors and students.

Ultimately, social media is an extension of your bricks-and-mortar space and your special community. With a social media strategy, you’re going to build out a virtual community that translates into higher participation, referrals, loyalty and upsells for your fitness business. 

Tag and give shout outs to instructors, students and like-minded businesses like crazy. Use the power of positive peer pressure. For example, tag your most loyal customers in an event post by asking “who’s coming? Don’t miss out!” Not only does this type of post urge your customers publically to attend, they may feel honored you mentioned them and all their friends may sign up too when they see they're missing out. 

What?

Share quality content that gives your customers and potential customers value. Use your content to build your brand’s voice and identity. Choose storytelling, how-tos and did-you-knows over sales-y and dry announcement type posts. Posts that entertain, educate and inspire get far more likes and shares than sales pitches, according to Sprout Social. 

Here’s are few ideas for fitness-specific posts that you can use on popular sites like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter (we’ll tell you how to customize for each platform below):

  • Photos of inspiring clients having breakthroughs that link to a video, landing page, or blog post featuring their success story. Even better if you can also feature the instructor who made the difference. Be sure to tag the client and the instructor, as well as your business. Make this a regular feature by creating a “student of the month.”
  • Fitness move, dance move, or yoga pose of the day. Take a photo or short video clip of yourself or an instructor performing the move. Include top tips and how-tos in the post and link to a class or workshop on your schedule (It’s easy to display your class schedule online with Punchpass). 
  • A photo of a nutritious, delicious post-practice or workout meal. Include the recipe and why you love it. These are even better if you’re in the photo!

When?

Post at least every day. If you’ve got a socially-savvy instructor or loyal student, consider asking them to help out with regular posts. Make sure that you share your social accounts with all your students and instructors and ask them to tag your business when they’re posting to their personal social media pages. Contests are a great way to generate awareness and engagement with your fitness business’s social media channels. 

Think about when your ideal customer logs on. Perhaps they check in most before and after their morning and evening workouts? Over lunch? Post consistently, and make sure you post on weekends – posts receive 32% higher engagement, according to marketing automation platform, Wishpond.

Where?

Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are among the social media channels most popular for fitness related content. Gyms, yoga studios, personal trainers and big health and fitness brands still use Twitter to engage customers, but it’s a lot more work and typically works best if you have a larger website with landing pages and a blog to link to. Here are some ways successful fitness businesses use each platform that you can use to market your brand:

Facebook

Facebook is still the most heavily used social media site by far among adults (teenagers prefer social sites like Tik-Tok, Snapchat and Instagram). Roughly seven in ten adults (69%) say they use Facebook. YouTube (well talk about that in a minute) is the only other online platform measured that matches Facebook’s reach: 73% of adults report using the video sharing site, a new Pew Research Center survey found. 

What’s great about Facebook is that you feature eye-catching images, like on Instagram, but you can include slightly longer text descriptions and easily include links – with a strong call to action – to your website’s class or workshop schedule, pricing page, or blog to capture leads and generate sales. 

Use your Facebook profile banner like you would a website slider bar, to highlight current promotions, events, and special deals. Facebook has an “events” section where you can create events, then pay a small amount (like $5) to boost them to your customers. You can feature and sell your intro offer as part of the Facebook Business Page functionality. And you can create a “sign up,” button at the top of your page to entice new students to join. For a great example, check out this Crunch Fitness Facebook page

Lastly, check out how you can share your class schedule to your Facebook page with Punchpass. 

Instagram

We love Instagram’s power to communicate a thousand words, one image at a time. This is the social platform to get artsy and colorful on. What’s important to note about Instagram is that it lends itself to short, inspiring text, and encourages you to hashtag like crazy (up to 30 hashtags per post, compared to Facebook’s guideline of no more than two). Instagram isn’t designed to link out to other websites and social channels. Your main URL is going to be the one you use in your profile (most likely the homepage of your website, although you can link to a blog or other site if that’s where you most want users to engage with you more deeply). 

For boutique fitness businesses, the gold in Instagram is connecting with health conscious and fitness hungry customers who are looking for inspiration. This is the place to share customer success stories, images of you at community events, races, competitions, festivals, and to highlight the personality of you, your students and your instructors. 

Some simple tips if you’re new to Instagram: The “grid,” layout is designed for visual beauty. Choose a “vibe,” for your page that matches your business’ personality. For example, peace, calm and relaxation if you’re a yoga studio or instructor. Try to take and post photos that use a similar color palette. Always use the same filter. Hashtags are how Instagram users search for content, and handles are the way people connect with each other. Research hashtags common to your business. Some of the most popular in the fitness world are (not surprisingly): #fitness, #fitnessinspiration, #gym, #workout, #fitnessmotivation, #weightlossmotivation. We also like #peopleofpunchpass (okay, we LOVE #peopleofpunchpass 😍!).

Instagram has a fun and lighthearted vibe, and one of the most effective social media marketing strategies to leverage this is contests. You can create a contest by choosing a hashtag like #yourbusinessnamewinterfit. Post a gorgeous photo and in the post announce the contest, its name and rules, its prize, and ask contestants to post photos and use your hashtag. Make sure to follow up with a photo and announcement of your winner when the contest ends. Theme the contest to drive engagement: A photo of the student doing your pose or workout move of the month; sweatiest post-class pic, favorite healthy workout snack, for example. 

When choosing a platform to focus on, consider your fitness brand’s “X factor,” says Buffer, a social media management company. Are you great at photography, videos, or writing? Certain platforms lend themselves better to certain content types and personalities. 

Finally, consider smaller, niche platforms, too. For example, Buffer featured Zwift, a multiplayer online cycling training software company, in a recent article on social media strategy for businesses. Zwift has started a club on Strava, a social network for athletes. Their club has more than 57,000 cyclists, and thousands engage with their posts. Check out their world champ’s challenge on their Strava page

Why?

Do we even have to go here? Okay. Getting social with your fitness brand is all about amplification. If your ideal customers don’t know about you, they can’t find you. Plus, a lot of social media marketing is free, which is key for a smaller, or start-up fitness business. Finding and sharing with your community online is way more effective then posting fliers all over town or buying an ad on Yelp. But in case you still need some reasons “why,” here’s a list from Buffer of the nine primary goals for being on social media:

  1. Increase brand awareness
  2. Drive traffic to your website
  3. Generate new leads
  4. Grow revenue (by increasing signups or sales)
  5. Boost brand engagement
  6. Build a community around your business
  7. Provide social customer service
  8. Increase mentions in the press
  9. Listen to conversations about your brand

So...you’re ready to get out there and get social. Great! Here’s some help getting organized with a free social media marketing plan template from Buffer.

As you can see, having a clear, consistent presence on social media can be a big driver of new business to your fitness business. Now that you understand the different themes and audiences on each page, your social presence will be golden.