Whether you’re a seasoned fitness instructor or new to the scene, having a strong social media presence will undoubtedly help set you up for success. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve already found a studio that you call home, having an Instagram account where your students can follow your class schedule and see what you’re up to each week keeps your class at the top of your member’s minds — plus, it helps strengthen the instructor to student bond even more.

Social media is a space that’s constantly evolving, so it’s smart to have a few best practices figured out when it comes to curating Instagram content. We asked a few fitness instructors to share their best tips and advice for growing and maintaining an Instagram following that serves your business.

Be Strategic About When You Post

One great thing about paving your way on Instagram today is that it’s been around long enough for useful tools to now exist that help users bolster engagement on their posts. Personal trainer Jessica Thiefels uses this to her advantage when deciding on the timing of when she’ll post on her Instagram account. “Use the in-app analytics to choose the best time to post each day,” she says. “When you click into the dashboard from the app (the top right corner), you can scroll all the way down and see the top engagement times for the day, based on your followers. I’ve posted at that time and I definitely notice a difference.”

Watch our webinar Social Media Deep Dive: Instagram to learn more ways to maximize a business profile on Instagram.

Leverage Hashtags For Performance

With so many fitness-related hashtags to choose from, it can be tough to decipher the right strategy to use per post. Crystal Widmann, founder of Y2BFit says that a mix of broad and targeted hashtags has been the sweet spot for her business. “Use relevant, broad hashtags (yoga, HIIT, fitness) with a few more specific hashtags (studio you teach at, etc.),” she says. “This will help you reach a wide audience with the broad hashtags while also keeping you higher up in the search results for the more specific hashtags.”

Use relevant, broad hashtags, with a few more specific hashtags, such as the studio you teach at.

As for deciding on how many hashtags to use, it’s valuable to take a look at studies that have been done in order to pinpoint the most effective number per post. “I always use 11 hashtags,” says Thiefels. “It was found in a Buffer study to boost engagement. I swear by this, and when I don’t do it, I notice a difference. This is most especially important when you’re just starting and have fewer followers. Hashtags help you get found, boost followers and ultimately, boost engagement.”

Utilize Geotagging Capabilities

Having a large and engaged Instagram following is helpful in plenty of ways — but when you’re a fitness instructor looking to up your class participation, you want to reach as many potential clients in your area as possible. “Use geolocate and tag others (especially bigger accounts) on your photos,” says Widmann. “Both of these options help you to reach more people.”

If you’re posting an Instagram story, Elliott Smith, co-owner of Total Row Fitness says using the geotagging tool can help get more local eyeballs on your content as well. “A great tip is to tag your location in your Instagram story,” he says. “This will often connect your story to your local city’s story and opens up a brand new audience to see your posts!”

Showcase The Hard Work Of Others

Involving others in your Instagram content, whether that’s by way of highlighting a student of the week or a fellow fitness instructor will resonate well with your audience. “I was interviewing local gym members at my home gym, because I wanted to share their stories with my friends,” says Nikki Walter, a fitness instructor and athlete. “Little did I know ‘Gym Members Who Inspire Me’ would be some of the highest viewed posts that I would make, but it makes sense! Everyone loves to be appreciated, and noticed for their efforts. If you notice someone in the gym making great strides, compliment them, and ask for a photo to feature them on your social media. Not only are you making their day, but it is a great feeling to help others and keep them excited about their progress — it’s a win-win. You may see a few shares from the person you interview, and their success is your success.”

Be Authentic

The fitness industry is a crowded space — both in the scope of business world and on Instagram. With so many fitness-focused Instagram accounts out there, Walter says that the key to standing out is not to do what others are doing, but stay true to your authentic self when posting to set yourself apart from the rest.

“When promoting your brand, the most important thing to highlight is to be authentic,” she says. “You want a chance to capture the world through your thoughts, visions and feelings. Everyone does the same thing — workout videos, food prep, gym selfies…the truth is you’ll only attract people who follow the same ‘type’ if you are doing the same thing. If you want to stand out, add a bit of reality other than motivational quotes and pictures with quotes. Highlight your day, the things you do that make you different than all of the others.”