Use these simple tools, apps and ideas to stay connected with online fans and followers despite even the busiest of schedules.
These days, in order to develop a successful fitness business, it’s important to be as present online as you are offline. However, your schedule is not exactly 9–5, and it doesn't always involve sitting in front of a computer. Your office is a gym. If you’re sitting, you’re most likely lifting weights or consulting with a client. While many business owners can log on and manage their social accounts while at work, the erratic and hectic schedule of a fitness pro makes this much more difficult. The good news is that with a little scheduling and some productivity tools you can maintain your online presence. This article will help you develop a system for managing social media in the nooks and crannies of your week, so that you can interact regularly with fans, followers and future customers.
Step 1: Develop a Content Plan
While it might seem easier to hop online and share a thought or two, posting content on the fly is never the answer. You may think you’re saving time by posting between clients, but you're probably spending more time overall thinking of something to post each day. If you want to post valuable and engaging content that your audience will find worth reading, “Liking,” sharing or retweeting, you’ve got to get those creative juices flowing. Think about how much time it takes you each day to come up with what you're going to post. Why not save time by writing all of your posts for the week in one session?
Your content plan is going to depend upon which social media platforms you use. To improve your understanding of when and what you should post, first ask yourself these questions:
- When are your fans online? If they work in an office, for example, they’ll most likely be on the Internet before and after typical business hours.
- What do your clients find valuable? Busy moms might be interested in quick, healthy recipes, or workout ideas for tight schedules.
- How many times a week will you post to each platform? (As a rule, try posting to Facebook 7–10 times per week, Twitter 3–5 times per day, Instagram 5–7 times per week and YouTube once per week. To learn more about when to post, see the sidebar, “Further Reading.”)
- What does social media success look like for you? Is your goal to gain page likes, drive fans to your website, or a bit of both? Make your goals specific and measurable.
Answering the above questions will provide you with a content structure to work from when you sit down to plan your posts for the week.
Step 2: Write Content Weekly
Block off time in your schedule once a week to write posts for the following week. Writing content a week ahead of time is more efficient than figuring out what to post every single day.
If there’s a block of time that you normally use for planning your week, then creating your social media content belongs in that block of time. If your schedule changes frequently, look at the upcoming week on your calendar and carve out time for preparing social media. Just as you encourage clients to prep meals on Sundays, arrange your own schedule so that you devote time regularly to planning your posts in advance and ensuring that you’ve always got content that is thought out, written and ready to go for the entire week.
Write all your content on a spreadsheet or a Word document first, so that you can review and edit it all at once before scheduling it. Here’s an example:
YouTube: Post video of your new favorite exercise, and cross-post to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram [link to YouTube video]
Facebook: Who’s finding their center with me tonight for Gentle Yoga? [PICTURE of Yoga mat]
Twitter: Who’s finding their center with me tonight for Gentle #Yoga? [PICTURE of Yoga mat]
Instagram: [PICTURE of Yoga mat] Who’s finding their center with me tonight for Gentle Yoga? #Yoga #GentleYoga #Fitness #Meditation #Strength
Step 3. Use Social Media Apps and Tools
The chart below lists tasks you should do regularly across all social media platforms.
|Task||Frequency||When to fit in it||Tools to use|
|Plan||Quarterly||Block off an hour before or after the workday to sit down and plan.||Use a spreadsheet, word doc or create something in Google Drive to keep track of what content you will post and when you will post it.|
|Find content||Throughout the week||Find times to browse your favorite sites in the nooks and crannies of your day.||StumbleUpon
|Check for comments/engagement||Throughout the day||Set up push notifications on your phone and respond in real time. Find nooks and crannies in your day to read your feeds and engage with your audience.||Social media apps|
|Review metrics||Monthly||Facebook Insights
The major social media platforms have robust apps for managing social media on the go. If you have a smartphone, download these apps and use them. You’ll have all of the functionality you need in the palm of your hand. You can read your feeds, respond to comments, post responses and receive push notifications when people engage with you—all from your phone.
Tools for Scheduling Posts
Scheduling posts in advance is a huge time-saver. Once you’ve created your content, arrange to have it automatically posted at a future time or date. Several tools are available for doing this:
Facebook. Facebook has a feature that allows you to schedule posts right from the status bar. Here’s a link to Facebook’s scheduling tutorial: www.facebook.com/help/389849807718635#How-do-I-schedule-a-post-to-appear-on-my-Page-later?
Hootsuite. Hootsuite (www.hootsuite.com) is an all-in-one dashboard, which means you can manage and schedule posts for multiple outlets in one place. Hootsuite helps you connect Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. The free version allows you to connect five accounts and schedule posts individually, while the paid version offers bulk scheduling from an unlimited number of accounts. Hootsuite also provides great analytics reports. If you are a heavy Twitter user, for example, Hootsuite lets you view mentions, retweets, search terms and lists in streams.
Buffer App. Buffer App allows you to add content to a queue so the content goes out based on predetermined time frames. You can program how many times a day and at what times you want to post, and Buffer does the rest. Use it as a browser extension, “buffering” things as you find great content to share, or go into the website itself and copy/paste what you’ve written. Buffer supports sharing to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. For example, let’s say you’ve got some spare time and you find a great article or exercise technique you want to share. If you’ve installed the Buffer browser extension, click on it and a status bar will pop up that prompts you to write something about the article or use the default title of the article. From there, you select the platforms you want to share it to and then hit Buffer. Your post will go into a queue to post at the next available time based on your Buffer settings. Buffer App lets you connect up to three social media accounts for free.
Tools for Finding Content
Sometimes the hardest part of planning content is finding things to post. The following tools and websites are great for searching out usable information.
StumbleUpon. StumbleUpon (www.stumbleupon.com) is like Pandora for your online interests. Sign up for an account and select your interests; you will receive email digests with content from across the Web. You can “thumbs- up” or “thumbs-down” each selection to fine-tune what you get.
Scoop.it! Scoop.it (www.scoop.it) is very similar to StumbleUpon, without the thumbs-up or -down feature. It’s another great way to keep a constant stream of content suggestions flowing.
Google Alerts. Google Alerts makes Google do the work for you. Go to google.com/alerts and plug in keywords you want Google to search. Start with your name, the name of your company and a few industry terms. (Be wary of being too generic, or you’ll be flooded with content. You could start with exercise tips or fitness news and tweak as you go.) If you work with young athletes, you might use terms like youth sports or young athlete research. Once you’ve set up your search terms, you can have Google send you alerts weekly, daily or as they are posted. All that’s left to do is sit back and let Google send your digests!
Twitter. Twitter is a great place to find content. Start following people, companies, organizations or media sources in your industry, so that you can browse for content that is relevant to you and your audience.
Pocket. As mentioned in the chart above, you should look for content throughout the week. The Pocket (www.getpocket.com) browser extension is great for managing content. It will save any links you find so that you can review and use them later.
Build a Presence on Your Schedule
If you’re new to social media, or you’re unfamiliar with many of its platforms, start small and expand from there. For example, focus on writing content ahead of time—even if it’s only a few posts per week—until you’ve made it a habit. Then, as you become more social media–savvy, add more content, another platform or engagement with more people. Take it one step at a time, but most importantly maximize your time by planning ahead and using the tools mentioned in this article.