As the industry produces a greater variety of exercises and number of clubs in every market, getting connected with current and prospective members is more important than ever. And one of the best ways to organically create strong connections with members is social media.
“Social media has become an increasingly easy and inexpensive way to advertise your club and empower your customers,” said Mike Ganim, the co-owner of Harbor Fitness in New York City. “Take advantage of it.”
Harbor has taken full advantage of its social media platforms, using them to engage members on a daily basis. Encouraging social media posts from in the gym and about the gym has turned several members into raving fans.
“Our members have become ‘Harbor Fitness Ambassadors’ — your members will do the same for you,” said Ganim. “Encourage them to post as much content as possible, and even reward them with free apparel and shakes.”
Ganim believes engaged members will provide a major boost to a club’s culture through their social media activity. “Those who feel strongly enough about your club will go above and beyond to help strengthen your brand,” he said.
Not all content is beneficial, however — in fact, inappropriate or irrelevant posts can be detrimental to your club’s member engagement. It’s important to monitor what is being posted from your club’s social media accounts, as well as what posts your club is being tagged in.
“I recommend that any club owner put in place a clear social media consent form that all members must fill out in order to use the club for their platforms,” said Ganim. “Request that they ‘follow’ the club, and do the same — follow them to monitor how they portray your club. Any unsavory content they post should be immediately removed.”
The same type of precautions should apply to club staff, as many problems can arise from social media content that is inappropriate or violates a member’s privacy in any way.
“Employees must understand the importance of gaining a member’s permission, respecting their privacy, and portraying the club in a positive light prior to posting,” said Ganim.
But don’t let the fear of negative social media content deter you from allowing people to express their feelings about your club. Harbor Fitness has empowered its social media ambassadors, and it has created a stronger culture and greater brand awareness. The same can happen at your club.
“People use social media to gain self respect and allow the world to see them as they want to be seen,” said Ganim. “If they love your club enough to take the time to mention it, you should not only allow it, you should encourage it.”
At Harbor Fitness, the social media ambassadors love going to the gym and posting about their time at the gym. And this has become a very effective, free method of marketing that can work for any health club.
“You’ll be surprised at how entertaining people are,” said Ganim. “You will enjoy reading the clever and funny ways members and staff express themselves while advertising your business — at no cost to you. Have fun with this and let the genius flow.”