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Convert Facebook Fans to Members

by Jeff Molander on Nov 22, 2011


Use these three steps to successfully win new clients.

Turning Facebook fans into club members is easier than you think! After a year of interviewing facility operators and businesses that were experiencing remarkable success using social media, I found the common thread: they’re giving people a reason to do more than just “like” them. The following three steps illustrate how to make it happen for you.

Step 1: Solve People’s Problems

You’ve probably heard that the key to Internet marketing success is to post content a certain number of times, on certain subjects and on certain days. That’s not the answer. Making the sale demands that you focus not on “secret-sauce best practices” but on people’s needs. The real secret to success is to get back to basics, and that means solving problems.

For instance, the grocery store chain Harris Teeter pays customers to ask its dietitian health-related questions on Facebook. Why would a grocer—or your facility—do that? Because it’s a powerful way to help people with their essential health queries. Another benefit is that by answering questions in a frank manner, you open the door to making customized suggestions and offers. You can provide a friendly tip or a useful trick. And when appropriate, you can give details about how becoming a member or attending a screening, class or program will help your Facebook visitors find answers to their questions in a practical way.

Step 2: Be a Thought-Provoker

Solving your audience's problems on Facebook works, but only if you draw the audience in and let them share their intentions—their purpose or goal—with you.

Let’s say you need to generate inbound membership inquiries, or convince an already attentive group to take advantage of another program or membership. In either case, you need to provoke responses. The key here is for you to share useful, original (previously unknown) knowledge in exchange for an understanding of your visitors’ intentions—for example, what's keeping them from signing up.

In other words, give your audience something that is valuable to them that also generates insightful information for you. Qualify the resulting leads, and nurture them to fruition. In a guest blog on CBI Unbound, Fitcorp's Bill Churchill provides a great first step: Classify prospects as “addicted,” “afflicted” or “aspirational” personas, and cater to each group's specific needs.

For example, after a week of interacting with Facebook fans you identify a few people who are “addicted.” It’s obvious from their posts that they’re committed to fitness. You know this group doesn’t need help deciding whether to sign up for a program, class or upgrade based on the benefits of exercise—they already “get it.” This knowledge frees you to focus your follow-up on what does matter to them: location, timing and other details.

Some of the more innovative facility owners and managers are “ethically bribing” their fans, by sharing health and wellness knowledge that this audience has never had access to before, or by providing solutions to problems they didn’t know they had. Become an invaluable resource; show people how to take action on opportunities, how to avoid risks and how to find answers in ways that connect to your club’s offerings. Make everything you do on Facebook “scratch a fan’s itch.”

“The key is to leverage your club’s strengths in ways that reveal what your employees are seeing that most people aren’t right now,” says Gunnar Branson, CEO of marketing and innovation consultancy for Branson Powers. “For instance, what do your trainers know—right now—that’s relatively unknown and revealing? Think in terms of a risk or opportunity that your members will react strongly to. This formula can be applied in any selling scenario: ‘Most people think A, but it’s actually B. Here’s why I say [insert proof—an observation, trend, anecdote, statistic]. That’s the way to ‘map out’ stories or insights that will draw [people] in.”

Step 3: Take Action

The final step is to align your Facebook posts in ways that help fans get something important done today. Here are tips for getting started:

  • “Talk to me.” Give people a reason to think in a powerful, new way about a topic that’s important to them—something that gives them a reason to talk to you. For example, highlight a childhood obesity statistic and be prepared to explain how your 6-week child-and-parent wellness program is a good way to address this issue.
  • Make it easy. Use contests, calls to action, bold statements—do what it takes to prompt a reaction, and make it easy for members to qualify themselves as leads. If your foam roller classes are helping people recover from sports injuries and you have testimonies to back that up, why not tout it on Facebook?
  • Repurpose your content. Are you already helping members put out fires or do more with less? How? Where? Collect and organize this information using a simple, accessible tool like a blog. Ask staff to collect stories as well. Consider ways to prompt Facebook fans to visit your blog, induce a response and capture a lead.

IDEA Fitness Manager, Volume 24, Issue 1

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About the Author

Jeff Molander IDEA Author/Presenter

Jeff Molander is the author of Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You, an adjunct professor of marketing at Loyola University’s school of business and a social media keynote s...