Jessica Yarmey, the CEO of FlexSociety, shares five digital marketing trends worth exploring in 2024 as they’re redefining the industry.
Digital marketing is more complicated and is changing faster than it ever has before. The new member acquisition plays you ran five years ago aren’t going to work with the same efficiency today. But if you’re willing to adapt, there are a few digital marketing trends worth exploring as they’re redefining marketing in the fitness industry and beyond.
1. The AI Era
In the ever-evolving world of marketing, the fastest changes are being brought on by AI and the language learning models that leaped to mass adoption in 2023. As we step into 2024 with more digital channels and more content creation tools than ever before, the brands who choose to embrace AI will be best-positioned to add efficiency to their marketing strategy in the new year.
At a minimum, brands should be leveraging ChatGPT or another language learning model to draft blogs, emails, website copy, automations, internal memos, press releases and social posts. Leveraging this powerful tool will help you add volume, consistency and personalization to your communications with your members and prospects.
When used correctly, AI gives marketers the ability to amplify their strategies, delivering richer content at scale. But over-use or incorrect use of AI can make your brand sterile and cold, so education and exploration of the tools is paramount.
2. Influencers as Celebrities
As a complement to the robots churning out content, influencers and user-generated content continue to dominate social media platforms, particularly within the fitness space. Influencers have authoritative voices and create massive amounts of user-generated content, driving awareness and affinity for the brands in their posts.
Relatability and trust are cornerstones of consumer engagement and fitness influencers can bring that to the brands they highlight. One of the most organic, authentic and affordable ways to achieve this is through working with your own “home grown” influencers.
Home grown influencers are members or staff who already have an affinity for your brand and regularly post from your facility. Their following is not likely as large as a nationally known influencer but their content can be more relevant and impactful at the local level. Your brand page and their personal page can collaborate on content, organically expanding both audiences.
Leveraging home grown influencer partnerships and user-generated content not only amplifies brand visibility but also cultivates the sense of community in your gym or studio making it a critical component to your marketing strategy.
3. Video Continues to Dominate
The rule of thumb used to be posting to Instagram and Facebook once a day organically. With the emergence of TikTok, YouTube Shorts and Reels within Instagram and Facebook, daily video content is now table stakes for brands on social media.
Video is the heartbeat of social interaction and drives most virality online. Its immersive and compelling nature captivates audiences across platforms and demographics, offering unparalleled storytelling opportunities for brands. Referencing back to the prior trend, it’s critical to have identified your brand’s story tellers whether they be influencers or your own staff.
Embracing this trend isn’t just a choice, it’s an imperative step toward controlling your brand message. Where you don’t have a strategy around video, you’re allowing anyone with a platform to tell your story without your control. Posting isn’t just about staying relevant, it’s about steering the conversation about your brand. If you’re not steering the conversation the rest of the internet will be.
Luckily, professional production isn’t needed in video on social media. Authentic videos shot on iPhones have just as much ability to pick up eyeballs as fully produced content. The importance is knowing who your great creators are and empowering them to create video content on behalf of your brand.
4. Organic Social Driving Paid Social
If these trends are reading like steps to rebuild your marketing playbook, this step is the most critical of them all because it impacts your marketing budget and your cost per lead. The real time social feedback you receive from everything you post organically on social media should guide your paid media strategy.
To play out the marketing scenario let’s say you identify a great home grown influencer who posts great content from your gym. You ask them to create a video welcoming newcomers into your gym showcasing your great community vibe. The video is posted to their Instagram page and your gym is a collaborator on the post. The post does well because you have a great creator and story teller behind the content.
When you see organic content out-performing other content, you can either boost it which will put it in front of more people or you can rebuild it as a paid ad. When you rebuild it as a paid ad, you can use ChatGPT to write great caption options for the post with a clear call to action to join your gym. When you follow this strategy, you’re bringing efficiency to your paid social media because you already have feedback that the content is good and will resonate in paid.
5. Distribution of Content Evolves
With the volume of AI-supported content being churned out and the number of digital channels that exist, digital distribution is going to be a hot topic in 2024.
Tools like repurpose.io make cross posting on platforms easier than before. Scheduling tools like Later are critical to help a lean marketing team manage the flow of organic posts that need to go out in a day. Even well-loved creator tools like Canva are evolving to leverage AI and to empower their creators with scheduling.
The next level is the emergence of the fediverse. The fediverse is a decentralized network of social channels that offers seamless cross-platform communication and posting. Embracing an open and interconnected ecosystem, the fediverse emphasizes user control, privacy and freedom of expression. While it’s still on the horizon, marketers who stay current on decentralization will have an early mover advantage as new platforms emerge as favorites within the fitness community.
As consumers spend more and more time on social media, it’s critical to pay attention to digital marketing trends that allow your brand to show up authentically in conversations. Executed correctly, digital marketing can be a measurable and highly targetable layer in your overall marketing plan.