In the last decade, the social media revolution has transformed the online landscape by changing the way fitness professionals communicate and engage with colleagues and clients. The functionality of popular social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube has opened the doors to new business-marketing strategies in the digital age.
After years of being poked, hit, tweeted, retweeted, followed, ranked, linked, friended and unfriended, fitness professionals are much more savvy about leveraging social media to build their networks and increase their brand awareness.The upcoming social media challenges will be less about developing a Web presence or building online community. They will be more focused on sustaining these relationships, quantifying social media efforts and differentiating businesses within your community. Here’s how to get started:
Narrow the Online-Offline Gap
Businesses have saturated social media networks with their presence (who doesn’t have a Facebook page these days, right?). Gain a competitive advantage by synchronizing your offline activities with your online community.
Coupling traditional marketing with social media is still necessary, but announcing an event on Twitter or Facebook is only a first step. “Using the online media as coverage of live offline events serves both to enhance the experience of those participating and to inform [people] online about how they might participate in the future,” says Mark Nutting, CSCS, master trainer at Saco Sport & Fitness in Saco, Maine. For example, group fitness instructors who post their choreography on YouTube give regular attendees a chance to preview or practice a routine and future attendees a glimpse into a class experience.
Live broadcasting (or “livestreaming”) a portion of an event to the Web can also allow for real-time participation from your online community. If you are having a health expo, a holiday event or a fundraiser at your club, websites like Ustream.TV and BlogTalkRadio.com transmit your feed while simultaneously engaging viewers through chatrooms and call-in hotlines, respectively. All event recordings can easily be embedded into your website, which can increase Web traffic and improve the average time a visitor stays on your site.
Tips. Schedule informational workshops or sessions with a trainer, a local doctor or a nutritionist at your club, and facilitate the Q&A from both online and in-person attendees. Post a live Twitter feed on a wall at the gym, and stream all @replies or event #hashtags during an event. Enhance live-recorded content in postproduction by annotating video with comments, adding links or creating a highlight reel.
Tools. For those who may not have audio equipment for recording interviews, try ipadio (www.ipadio.com), which uses your phone as a microphone. For video, invest in a Flip Video™ camcorder (www.theflip.com) to make recording and uploading to YouTube a cinch. Add a “live chat” box on your site with Meebo (www.meebo.com) to stay accessible to members. Check out CoveritLive.com to create blog posts of events as they unfold.
For additional strategies, please read the complete article, “Maximizing Your Social Media Investment,” in the online IDEA Library or in July–August 2010 IDEA Fitness Journal.