Those who follow Internet trends have probably heard of Twitter (www.twitter.com) or are already using it. If not, it might be worth your time to find out about this cleverly named service. Launched in 2006, Twitter is described on its site as “a service [to enable] friends, family and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”
Learn how you can effectively use Twitter to enhance your client-trainer communication, increase business marketing, expand your professional network and support healthy behaviors—5 seconds at a time.
The Basics of Twitter
Technically, Twitter functions as a microblogging platform (similar to a blog, minus the lengthy posts, videos, photos and ads). Each post (called a “tweet”) has a maximum of 140 characters and is time-stamped, then listed in reverse chronological order on your profile page (known as your Twitter “stream”). You can tweet directly from the Web, your cell phone and/or other third-party applications (www.twitter.com/downloads). People then subscribe to or “follow” your Twitter stream to see what you are up to.
Hitting Multiple Birds With One Tweet
The question is not in how to tweet; rather, it’s in what to tweet. The contents of your tweets can determine who follows you and the conversations you will have with them. Below are 5 suggested reasons why Twitter might be useful for fitness professionals.
Reason #1: Enhance Client-Trainer Relationship
The relationships you establish with your clients are invaluable and can be extended to Twitter. Lisa Druxman, MA, 2007 IDEA Program Director of the Year, founder of Stroller Strides® and author of Lean Mommy (Center Street 2007), recently started using Twitter. “It's a great tool to keep clients motivated, send quick tips and stay connected,” she says.
Reason #2: Engage Your Professional Network
Often it is much easier to connect to a fitness professional or colleague through Twitter than via e-mail. Stephen Holt, CSCS, Baby Boomer Fitness Authority blogger and 2003 ACE Personal Trainer of the Year, says, “I use Twitter to suggest resources to other trainers, stay in touch with the world’s top trainers and tell everyone what projects I’m working on or ask for advice.” Twitter also allows you to send direct messages (called “DM”) to your followers, which makes for a more personal interaction with them.
Reason #3: Complement Your Marketing Efforts
Coupling Twitter with your other marketing efforts may significantly increase your online presence and strengthen your brand identity. Trainers and fitness professionals often add outgoing links within their tweets to direct additional traffic to their website and/or blog.
Reason #4: Support Healthy Behaviors
Regular folks tweet about going to the gym, struggling with exercise and reaching their goals. For trainers, replying to these tweets is a way to show your support and motivate people around the globe to stay healthy! (Note: Putting the “@” symbol in front of a username ensures that the person gets your message even if you are not following him.)
Reason #5: Provide Customer Support
Health clubs and fitness companies are using Twitter as a forum for business support and information updates. When people have a quick question about a product or training service, answering their “tweet” saves you and them the hassle of e-mails and phone calls. For last-minute class cancellations or weekly promotions, Twitter works like an announcement feed.
Whether Twitter is in your bag of social networking tools or not, keep in mind that there are multiple ways to reach out to your clients and enhance your business. The question is never in the technology itself, but in how you use it. Happy tweeting!
For additional information, please see “Twitter Me This, Twitter Me That” in the April 2009 issue of IDEA Trainer Success or read the full article online in IDEA's Health and Fitness Article Library. Be sure to follow IDEA on Twitter.