The secrets to great social media for gyms
(so maybe you can join the ranks of gym owners who ask me to stop advertising because they can’t keep up with enquiries!)
I’ve worked on social media for gyms since we first began our agency over 6 years ago. My first client was an ambitious gym owner who ran a ladies’ only gym.
She is still an ambitious gym owner with several incredibly successful ladies only gyms. And her advertising? Facebook. Just Facebook. Not even Instagram really, although that’s proving pretty good for interaction (you tend to need to be running ads on Insta really in order for people to actually get in touch though).
Since that first client, I LOVE working with gyms on social media.
It’s so satisfying. Once you get the interaction going and the support of the gym owner/manager, the memberships flood in!
I’m going to share ALL my secrets here. And this strategy I can promise REALLY DOES WORK!
My social media secrets to success
- If you’re launching a new gym: do a build up to it: post about you, who you are, make it personable. Why are you opening this gym? What’s your aim? Are you filling a gap in the local area?
- Remember: people may be interested in an incredible offer BUT you also want them to follow you on social media: follow the progress of this fantastic new gym. Let’s see the paint going on, the signs going up. Let’s see you and your team getting excited. You want people to buy in to YOU: people don’t buy into businesses and business ideas: they buy into people.
- Remember: people buy people! Keep that in mind and you won’t go too far wrong.
- Competitions: yes do them. But not too many. No more than one every 6 months. Don’t offer a month’s free membership: or you can, but why bother? It won’t get shared very much. Offer something IRRESITIBLE! 6 months free membership sounds so much better and is likely to get shared. Throw in 40 free classes, or 2 months vibro: something extra to bulk out the offering. A year’s membership is amazing (but 6 months is probably enough to get the engagement).
- When you run a competition, don’t expect loads of sign-ups as a result of it. But what you can expect is awareness and that’s what you want: people may not have heard of you before and a competition shared by a friend is a brilliant way of piquing interest.
- The competition may be the first contact with someone. The time spent looking at your post means a person is much more likely to see the next post you put out (they don’t have to be a page ‘liker’). So think carefully about that: what are you going to follow up your competition post with that’s going to make them feel like they simply HAVE to get in touch?
- Perhaps your gym is part of a chain: in which case you’re likely to have some success stories. These can be really useful in the early days of promoting a gym. (They are less effective later on because as the gym gets up and running, you should create an identity and a community and talk about people’s achievements within your own members.)
- If your gym is part of a chain, set up crossposting. This is a Facebook feature which means if someone has a video on their Facebook page, you can post it on your page too. ALL the likes and comments they got on their video will also appear on your page and you’ll benefit from the interaction the OTHER gym worked hard to get. THEY will also benefit from the interaction YOUR Facebook page gets.
- Posting: how often? NO more than 3 times a week – please stick to this: no one really wants to hear from you every day: think about your own newsfeed – if you were seeing the same sort of stuff from a company every day, would you be likely to unfollow or mute them? Me too!
- What to post? You NEED success stories. You can get creative with how you share these as not everyone wants to appear on Facebook/social media. No photo of your successful person who’s lost 11lbs in 2 weeks? Then get creative: use yourself or your staff – be open about it: “Lisa didn’t want her photo on social and that’s OK but she’s more than happy for us to celebrate her amazing hard work! She’s lost an incredible 11lbs!!! In just 2 weeks!” And you and the staff can do a success dance or something around the gym – be silly. Don’t be serious. Silly funny stuff is social. Posts that are too on-message or trying to sell are not social. It’s not sociable is it? But a post that celebrates success while being entertaining: that’s just right because you’re selling indirectly.
- Post about you, your staff. New members. Current members. Funny stuff to do with gyms and weight loss. Don’t take your gym too seriously. Facebook for gyms should be a mix of entertaining and informative. You can post about how to do certain exercises. Favourite exercises. Classes are a big one for engagement: if your gym does them, get a video of it and if no one wants their face in it, film from behind the class – with their permission of course. If you have a few who are up for being on social, then ask them to do a few minutes of a class: just seeing that movement is very effective in stopping the social media ‘scroll’
- How to get success stories? You can incentivise people offline: put up posters in the gym: “Tell us your success story and get a month’s free membership.” After a while it will get easier to gather the stories because members will see that other members are doing it. You’ll need your staff to be actively asking for them.
- Get hold of ‘before’ photos. These can’t be used in adverts (unless they are used by themselves without the ‘after’ photo) but they can be used organically so if possible when people join, ask them for a current picture. Or a picture at their first review. Don’t say that you’ll be using it on social media at that point. Because you won’t. But you’ll have it available for once that person has achieved something brilliant, and wants to tell the world!
- Permission: yes you MUST have written permission for the use of photos on social media. It’s a GDPR thing as well as a respectful thing to do and also guarantees that your member is in control and they must feel that at all times. You must also promise to take it off social if they are not happy at any time.
- Types of post: still images, videos, boomerangs. Don’t bother about blogs, really, unless you’re a good blog writer and are going to write something with an irresistible hook! And by hook I mean something that is just too good not to read. If however, you have a decent website, and want to drive traffic to it, a really good blog is one of the cheapest ways to do it. So at the risk of contradicting myself, if that’s your aim, then definitely do blogs. BUT, I generally don’t see a need to drive traffic to a website. The social media I do for the gyms doesn’t need to send anyone away from social media: people get in touch via social. They see someone achieving and they want to achieve too: it’s the psychology of social. They want what someone else has managed to get.
- Don’t bother sending people to your website from social: as I’ve mentioned above, this is a bit controversial. Have a website by all means: you need it for your search engine rankings, especially if you’re an independent gym. BUT to actually get people to get in touch from having seen a post on social media, you don’t need to send them off to your website (from where they might not actually take an action to get in touch). Get them to message the page right there from social media. Get them to press the button to fill in a lead generation form, or press to dial your number. It’s HARD to get people to get in touch so don’t go sending them away from where you have their attention. It’s HARD to get people to make a phonecall these days so make sure you are attentive to your messages and respond promptly.
- If you’re not always on social set up an automated response on your messenger with LOADS of friendly information about the gym and ALWAYS ask for them to make an appointment there and then: you have a SMALL window of getting them to get in touch. People are terrible at making that decision to join a gym: they will put it off and put it off: when they are finally at a point of making contact YOU have to make it as easy as possible.
- Adverts: yes… not straightforward on Facebook and Instagram because you can’t make claims that can’t be proven. You can’t post pictures of people with no or few clothes on. You can’t say “xxx lost xxlbs in 3 weeks “– but you CAN say: “xxx lost xxlbs” because you’re just saying what happened. You’re not making any claims. Lately I’ve found you can’t post a picture of what pounds of fat looks like, and say xx lost this much fat. FB doesn’t like that either. AVOID saying e.g., “if you want this…” any reference to ‘you’ isn’t OK. So it’s safer to simply avoid using the word ‘you’. You can’t say: “If you want to lose weight, join our gym”. The BEST results I’ve had are from simple pictures of members with gym owners/managers who look thrilled with their achievements. Why? Because everyone will know the gym owner/manager even if they don’t know the member, so you’re likely to get a ‘like’ from them. Then you have the member’s friends and family who are likely to ‘like’ or comment. Because of all that great interaction, Facebook decides your post as a good one and if you then turn that into an advert (you can boost post but using Advert manager is much better) you’ll see great results.
- I’ve realised there is a lot more that I could say about how to do great social media for a gym but this is a very long blog now! So if you want to know more, please get in touch. We ALSO offer award-winning social media training. And if we have the capacity and your gym isn’t already in an area that we operate a social media campaign for, we can even run your social for you.