How to build community and extend your reach through social media marketing.
According to SproutSocial, social media recently overtook paid search as an advertising channel, growing 25% year over year and exceeding $137 billion — edging out paid search’s $135 billion.
It’s likely your facility has been marketing through social media channels for years. However, as time has passed, which social media platforms are relevant and how to break through to potential members has changed drastically. While it’s ever-evolving and can be a lot to keep up with, it’s a beneficial marketing tool.
“Social media marketing is an amazing tool to speak to people outside of our four walls,” said Paula Fraisse, the web content manager, social media manager and director of community outreach at Gainesville Health & Fitness. “For me, I like to think of it as an extension of our brand in a digital sphere. Because social media marketing is such a multi-faceted tool, I like to think of my goals in buckets, with the two main goals being: engage with our members and become part of their community, and to reach prospecting members with appropriate messaging to bring them in.”
In order for Fraisse to meet these goals, she has to ensure they are active on the right social media platforms. Determining what platform is the most beneficial will depend on what you are trying to accomplish and who you are trying to reach.
For Julia Price, the social media coordinator for VASA Fitness, Instagram has been very beneficial for their marketing.
“Each social media platform has its own unique benefits,” said Price. “Right now, we think Instagram is the most beneficial because you can share stories, posts and reels, and interact with people in real time through direct messages and engaging with their posts and comments.”
While Instagram has faced hurdles competing with TikTok to engage Gen Z, the platform still has high engagement rates and a bright future for leads.
According to Sprout, Instagram dominates social streaming services in terms of engagement with an 81% engagement rate versus Facebook’s 8%. Additionally, Instagram Stories (83%) and grid posts (93%) remain the most popular types of content among influencers — a common marketing avenue for fitness facilities.
Instagram is also a great platform for the current social media trend of short-form video. “They’re on every platform and get a lot of views, reactions and comments,” said Price. “It’s a great way to get a message across quickly in a visual and extremely engaging way.”
Fraisse agreed. “I find Instagram is the most well-rounded social media platform,” she said. “Reels are king on Instagram right now. It’s a great way to get discovered and increase engagement.”
Another way to increase your social media impact is to take the time to interact with your members on social media. For Fraisse, social media is all about building a virtual community. She recommended actively engaging with your followers’ pages by commenting and sharing to help build a stronger connection of the public to your brand.
Additionally, pay attention to what posts are a hit with your followers and which ones fall flat.
“I always look at post interactions and engagement on Facebook and Instagram,” said Fraisse. “This tells you a lot about what kind of content your followers want to see and what simply isn’t working.”
Overall, social media is a great tool for brands, creators and consumers. You can share information quickly and become part of a larger community of people who care about the same things you do.
“One of the greatest benefits of social media marketing is building an online community where people feel safe and feel a sense of belonging,” said Price. “It’s a way to continue providing a great experience to our members and show them our brand is consistent online and in person.”