’re already an active blogger, and you’ve got hundreds of Facebook fans and Twitter™ followers. You consistently post relevant, informational updates and messages. You encourage feedback, and you foster conversations among your followers. Your clients are engaged and enthusiastic.
But you feel you’re in a bit of a rut, or you see that your audience isn’t really growing. Now is the time to mix in other social media tools and tactics.
The options for online networking, social bookmarking, social reviews, social news and social-network aggregation are increasing. So how do you determine your next steps?
Take a Strategic Approach
Biray Alsac-Seitz, a fitness technologist from Charlotte, North Carolina, and a longtime proponent of social media, has some advice. Before exploring new social media options, ask yourself these key questions:
- Am I maximizing the basic tools?
“Discover additional ways to take advantage of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter—these platforms are always adding new features or upgrading current ones. Consider adding a reading list (powered by Amazon) to your LinkedIn profile; add past milestones on your Facebook timeline; or promote your Twitter feed to non-Twitter users with statements like ‘Text BEFITT to 40404’ so they can follow your status updates, too.”
- Will this tool align with my marketing strategy?
“[This] should highly depend on professional goals. Research the tool and see how others are using it before jumping into the space.”
- What is my time commitment?
“Will adding another social media marketing tool end up being one more thing to update? You want your social media tools to complement each other, not duplicate your efforts.”
Explore Current Trends
Once you feel you are equipped and prepared to take the next step, you need to know what other tools are out there and how to use them.
“Apps that help people track their diet and exercise are really popular, and they have social elements where [visitors] can get encouragement,” says Tim Baker, vice president of Digital Strategy at the MWW Group, one of the nation’s top independent PR firms. “Answer sites like LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) and Quora (www.quora.com) are great for professionals to answer questions and establish themselves as thought leaders. I would definitely suggest getting involved in those if one has the time.”
Similarly, IDEA Health & Fitness Association offers IDEA Answers (www.ideafit.com/answers), a Q&A platform where fitness professionals can offer insights on a variety of topics (this has the added benefit of elevating a specialist’s expert status).
“I’m seeing a lot of location-based apps, like Foursquare (www.foursquare.com), used to advertise and promote real-time behaviors [AroundMe (www.aroundme.com), Qrious (www.qrious.com), Gauss (www.getgauss.com), etc.],” says Alsac-Seitz. “If I can turn your ‘like’ into a real-life action, then it works to my advantage. Location-based apps have the potential of leveraging your online presence to create more offline interactions.”
You can also achieve greater social media presence by ramping up your existing efforts. “One of the quickest and most effective ways to build up an audience is to advertise on Facebook,” says Baker. “It’s inexpensive, and you can microtarget to the people you are trying to reach. After you get them, it’s about nurturing them with compelling content that really provides value.”
Sharing articles, images, videos and other content that your regulars will likely pass along to their own contacts is a good way to keep your audience growing. Remember, the more active your followers are, the more visible your posts are to others.
For people who are just on Facebook and Twitter, Baker recommends adding YouTube to the arsenal. Video is a huge tool that can have a significant impact on a large number of people. As mobile speeds and browser performance continue to improve, video will become more and more prevalent.
Fitness professionals should also market their expertise and services through social networking sites. Alsac-Seitz suggests using a site like Meetup.com, which features local groups that already meet face to face. Some groups display their meeting times on their page, providing you with the perfect opportunity to contact the organizer about being a guest speaker. Fitness professionals can also sponsor a group, join a group or create one of their own.
For the Future
As more fitness professionals get involved in social media, there is greater awareness of the role that social media plays in the overall marketing strategy.
“It’s all about sustaining your efforts in the long run,” she says. “Social media isn’t a sprint—it’s a marathon. It takes hundreds of blog posts, thousands of tweets and months of liking, ‘fan’-ing, friending and following to make your efforts work.”
For other social media strategies, please see “Taking Social Media to the Next Level” in the online IDEA Library or in the August 2012 issue of IDEA Trainer Success.