If you manage a small studio, you know how hard it is to differentiate yourself in a crowded fitness and wellness space. Whether your focus is on yoga, cycling or kickboxing, distinguishing your workout philosophy and creating a unique culture takes hard work, discipline and time.
Differentiating your studio on social media is even more challenging given how much competition there is on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Just about every fitness brand is active on social media and standing out (and being memorable) is no easy feat. As a fitness brand, you also need to leverage social media in a way that truly speaks to your client base and that means knowing and understanding your customer.
We asked a few social media pros how they make their studios stand out in a social media landscape that’s saturated with fitness inspiration. Here’s what they had to say:
Figure out exactly who your target audience is
“Social media has allowed us to reach people in a way we’ve never been able to before,” says Ryan Healy, VP of Operations at ILoveKickboxing, a fitness kickboxing franchise that incorporates the workouts of professional fighters. “As the majority of our target demographic utilizes social media regularly, it allows us to stay socially relevant and connect with our audience in real time on the platform they prefer.”
But you can’t stand out on social media until you’ve mastered the basics, he adds. For starters, you need to determine who your target audience is and post content that’s relevant to that audience. Having that focus will help differentiate your brand and keep your followers engaged.
Stay true to your brand
Elli Gotlieb, director of brand strategy and marketing for Studio Three in Chicago, says it’s important to understand your brand’s DNA and use your social platforms as a way to communicate that to the masses. Studio Three, which opened in November of 2015, features cycling, interval training and yoga on three separate levels, all under one roof.
“Our brand is about a community that makes fitness goals accessible and there’s an opportunity no matter where you are on your journey to push yourself through our different formats,” Gottlieb says, adding that the studio’s social strategy is about showcasing a lifestyle over the educational aspect of fitness.
Using Chicago as the studio’s landscape on social media, Studio Three focuses on “the idea that health and wellness happens in every moment. It doesn’t have to exist in a 45- or 60-minute class. It’s how you choose to bring it into your daily existence.”
The studio is most heavily focused on building its social identity on Instagram, where it has strong engagement among its 4,500 followers. “It’s not about growing the number at the top of the screen but about building the community by using social media to introduce our studio to individuals that wouldn’t walk by us because they don’t happen to be in our neck of the woods,” she adds.
Follow the 80/20 rule
Sharing content from other brands is a great way to connect and engage with fellow influencers in the fitness space, says Jessica Bowman, the content editor for The Bar Method and a studio owner in Solana Beach, CA. Mixing shared and original content also makes the Instagram algorithm happy, she adds.
A best practice: produce 80 percent of your own content and share 20 percent of other brands’ content.
A best practice: produce 80 percent of your own content and share 20 percent of other brands’ content. “Our social media platforms are a place for our community to connect with us and each other,” Bowman says. “We like to diversify our presence by sharing relevant articles in our category, supporting other like-minded brands and businesses, and producing content that provokes inspiration and motivation.”
Focus on engagement
You can’t differentiate your brand on social media without strong engagement. For starters, give your followers a call to action on your posts and remain actively engaged by commenting on and liking the posts of other brands, advises Healy.
He suggests running contests with prizes for maximum engagement. ILoveKickboxing recently ran a design contest asking Facebook fans to submit art. The winner’s submission was produced and is now being sold in studios. ILoveKickboxing also hosts semi-annual 45 Day-Transformation contests. Once members sign up, they are eligible to join a VIP group that gives them access to motivational tips throughout the duration of the contest. The brand took things a step further by announcing the winner on Facebook Live, where thousands of followers tuned in.
Healy also recommends focusing on educating, engaging and entertaining—all three are actually categories on ILoveKickboxing’s social media and content calendar. The brand posts 3-5 times per day on Facebook and makes sure to hit those categories on a daily basis. The education piece comes in when instructors engage with followers on the brand’s social media pages.
“Because our members follow and hear from their instructors and other members on social media, there is a powerful feeling of camaraderie in the gym, and when they leave it too,” Healy says.
Be strategic about your social media campaigns
Before embarking on a social media campaign, make sure you partner with people who will spread your message in the most organic way possible. That kind of engagement tends to get the most likes, comments and shares, which will set your brand apart on social media.
Studio Three recently embarked on a “grl pwr” campaign. The three letters per word were designed to sync up with the Studio Three name. The studio invited women from a variety of industries including fitness, nutrition, finance and more for a private workout followed by networking and post exercise pampering.
The result was not only a successful event but also a series of images on social media that were taken and shared organically by participants with their own followings. Says Gottlieb: “If you do any activation with intent and strategy the social component is very organic.”