Should You Have an Internal Social Media Policy?

Although social media is a boon for your club’s marketing, it can also be a nuisance if staff members use it for non-work purposes on company time. Learn how to keep your staff’s love affair with social media at a productive level.

Social media has entrenched itself as a huge part of daily life for many people. In fact, according to a Pew Research Center study, 88 percent of adults age 18 to 29, and 78 percent of adults age 30 to 49 use at least one social media platform on a daily basis.

This means on average, eight out of 10 adults under 50 use social media — it’s likely the majority of your staff is part of that demographic. And while social media can be a huge benefit for your club’s marketing strategy, its usage by staff members on company time for non-work purposes can be a detriment to daily operation if left unchecked.

“Social media can be a club operator’s best friend or worst enemy,” said Mike Ganim, the co-founder of Harbor Fitness in New York City. “Employees must understand they represent the club at all times, and what they do outside is as important as what they do inside. Their actions reflect on the club as a whole.”

Harbor Fitness has a few rules in place to help prevent social media from becoming its worst enemy, and the first rule is pretty simple. “First off, when employees are on shift, they should be forbidden from engaging in social media or cell phone use for personal use,” said Ganim.

By eliminating the possibility of being distracted by social media during work hours, Harbor is able to drastically up the productivity of its employees. The less their noses are in their phones, the more they’re on the fitness floor engaging with members.

That doesn’t mean social media can’t be used or useful for Harbor employees, however. The key is keeping all social media activity work-related during work hours and inside club walls.

“Can you think of a better way to promote personal training than featuring a trainer, their clients and their results?” asked Ganim. “The same goes for group fitness. You just ran a charity event and the whole class is already smiling — why not immortalize the moment and share it with the world?”

As is the case at Harbor Fitness, social media can be used by club employees to create a sense of community and build rapport with members. By sharing in their clients’ in-club experiences and success stories, trainers become more relatable.

Problems can arise, however, when inappropriate social media content is connected to your club, even if it’s posted outside work hours.

“When off-duty and ‘out and about,’ do not allow employees to tag or hashtag the club while partaking in activities that are not club or fitness related,” said Ganim. “If you allow inappropriate content to sit too long, your audience will soon believe this is what you stand for. Remember, your club is on a stage 24 hours a day for the world to see.”

According to Ganim, the presence of a dedicated social media specialist — who monitors the club’s accounts and keeps an eye on employee accounts — is crucial. “The caveat here is in the monitoring,” shared Ganim. “We have a social media director in place who receives content, then reviews and edits it before posting.”

Along with prohibiting personal social media usage and committing to constant monitoring of social media activity, there are a few other basic tips Ganim would share with other club operators:

  • Nominate an employee you trust to monitor each platform.
  • Make sure posts are monitored daily.
  • Deal with any issues that arise immediately.
  • Respond to comments in a timely fashion — social media is as fast as the speed of ‘like.’

When properly used and monitored, social media can be a huge asset by facilitating enhanced member engagement. And according to Ganim, monitoring — rather than stifling — your staff’s social media engagement with members will generate positive results. “Allow your staff to express their creativity and individuality while empowering them on the path to success,” he said.

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