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Hiring? Use Social Media!

by Alexandra Williams, MA on Dec 23, 2011

As a manager or director, you’re constantly keeping your ears and eyes open at your facility for potential new trainers and instructors. That’s smart. What’s even smarter is also to use social media— such as Twitter™, Facebook and LinkedIn®—to support your search.

Thanks to social media, you can now reach a wider audience, with a potentially greater rate of success and response. But before you put out a call for interested potential recruits on your Facebook fan page, Twitter stream or LinkedIn groups, be sure you’re familiar with the differences between traditional recruiting and social media recruiting.

Your Personality Is Your Brand

Potential employees gleaned from social media will be drawn to your facility based on whether or not they like you, so make sure the person posting and tweeting is presenting a personality that matches your brand. It may take awhile to build up a following; however, that is the same as in the “real world.” As you build your online presence, keep in mind the 80/20 rule: 80% content and 20% promotion/recruitment. Once you’ve solidified your brand, push a little more on the recruitment.

Do not confuse your personal life with your business personality, even if you have a very small facility. As Doug Holt, CSCS, MFS, owner of Conditioning Specialists of Santa Barbara, California, and founder of Fitness Professional Online, says, “Always use your company’s social media presence when contacting a potential candidate. If you want to share pictures of your children [or] the bachelor party you went to and post that your dog is sick, that’s fine, but have a separate account for your business.”

Virgin Active South Africa is part of a huge chain, yet it has mastered the art of personalizing and “humanizing” its brand while staying professional. In addition, Virgin Active’s Twitter “wallpaper” features pictures of happy employees. Not members; employees! By building relationships, Virgin Active is establishing itself as a fun, engaging, “human” community that people want to join.

Build Trust

Your company's stellar reputation in the brick-and-mortar world won't necessarily cross over into your online presence. If you create a Facebook fan page but then neglect it, or if too many of your posts feel like “spam,” your reputation will suffer. Potential employees may not be living nearby, in which case their opinion may be based 100% on your online style. As Holt observes, “You have to constantly add value. We do this by offering free services and advice and even by recommending the competition. By posting the accomplishments of our current staff on our social media pages, we’ve attracted industry leaders to fly into Santa Barbara to see what we’re up to, and many have requested positions on staff. This was something I didn’t expect.”

Stay Connected—Friends Helping Friends

Once you’ve established your facility as a place with real people who provide trusted content, the next step is to interact and stay connected. Twitter in particular emphasizes connections. In my own case (@AlexandraFunFit), many of my followers are women and men who have lost a lot of weight or have overcome major obstacles. Going through the process, they have gained a love of exercise and a desire to share their passion. In addition, I have many Twitter followers who are fitness professionals, which puts me in a great position to play matchmaker.

The connections and help may be local or long distance. On Facebook I recently received the following request from a local colleague whom I’ve never met in person: “How are you? You don't know me well, but I had the courage to ask for your advice or recommendations. I am planning to take maternity leave soon. I had two students working for me at my studio, but now they are unable to continue. I am still new here and don't know many trainers. Maybe you know someone who can help me.” I made some referrals, and I now know of yet another facility in town that will take my university interns each year. Win-win!

For more information, please see “Recruiting Staff via Social Media” in the online IDEA Library or in the October 2011 issue of IDEA Fitness Manager.

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About the Author

Alexandra Williams, MA

Alexandra Williams, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Alexandra Williams, MA, is a contributing editor for IDEA Fitness Journal and co-owner of the Fun & Fit blog, column and radio show with her twin sister. Certified since 1986, Alexandra currently teaches at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and for Spectrum Clubs. She loves to write, emcee and edit, especially in a humorous fashion. She can be reached at