Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media sites of the past year. What makes this mobile photo-sharing network such a powerful marketing tool for fitness studios is the level of engagement among its users.
Because of Instagram’s visual nature, the platform is a good match for businesses in the health and wellness industries. You’ll have no shortage of images and videos of exercise demos, workout gear, instructors in action, healthy food and motivational messages to share with your current and prospective clients.
Instagram by the Numbers
In total, there are more than 300 million active Instagrammers
More than 75 million people use Instagram every day.
26 percent of adult Internet users are in Instagram.
53 percent of young adults ages 18-29 now use the service. U.S. teens describe Instagram as “most important,” while Facebook and Twitter have been losing ground in this segment.
Instagram users spend an average of 257 minutes a month on the site. That’s more than four hours.
With 8,500 likes per second and 1,000 comments per second, Instagrammers are really active. In fact, Instagram engagement is 15 times greater than engagement levels on Facebook
50 percent of comments are made within the first 6 hours of a post.
In the U.S., men now account for about half of Instagram’s users.
5 Tips and Tricks
1. Define your style.
The branding you have established for your studio should be reflected in your Instagram presence. Defining your style means more than uploading your logo as a profile picture – it sets the tone and mood of your business. The images you choose, as well as the filters and crops you use on your photos, help communicate your style. Are you bright or muted? Urban or rural? Funny or serious? Peppy or all-business? Modern or vintage?
Your Instagram style also encompasses the type of information you post, your professional personality and the tips and advice you can share with your clients. Set guidelines for the type of content you plan to post and stick to them.
2. Build a community.
Start by following influencers in your industry, brands you love and the people and businesses in your local community. At the same time, promote your Instagram account on your studio website, in your email signature and on printed material around your studio. Have instructors encourage clients to follow your studio on Instagram and speak with them about the type of content they can expect from your studio’s posts.
Once your following starts to grow, create strategic relationships by searching through the brands and people who follow you and follow them back. Be discriminating. Only follow the people and brands you enjoy and respect.
Once you have created a mutual following, engage these users by liking their photos and commenting on posts. Ask questions of your followers and answer questions others ask. Offer your expertise with a “no strings attached” policy.
As with any social media tool, don’t go for the hard sell with members of your community. Too much promotion will turn your followers off.
3. Be smart about Hashtags.
Hashtags are how people will find your profile on Instagram. Using a few hashtags with each post will help people find you online. You can get more views to your posts by using popular hashtags, but don’t go overboard. Only use hashtags that are relevant to your photos.
When you are looking at posts made by others, click on hashtags you think are relevant to your clients to see more photos on the same topic. These can be a source of inspiration or something you’d can share with your following.
It’s a good idea to do a search online for the most popular hashtags for fitness and wellness. There are several resources, such as Websta or Top-Hashtags, that publish up-to-date lists. In addition, come up with a personal hashtag that describes your business or your workouts, such as #yourstudioname or #yournameandspecialty, as a way to group all of your posts together and make it easy for interested Instagrammers to learn more about you easily.
4. Keep it professional.
A few personal pictures can be beneficial by showing your followers you have a life outside the studio. They can go a long way to help show ways to maintain a well-rounded, fit lifestyle after class. But, fight the urge to post too many pictures from your personal life and pictures of your friends and family. Don’t get political or controversial with your posts.
Instagram is a great way for clients to get to know your instructors. Ask your staff to submit pictures and ideas for the studio Instagram account. Because your staff members are client-facing brand ambassadors for your studio, you may want to speak with them about the appropriate way to interact with clients from their personal Instagram accounts.
5. Connect Instagram to other social media accounts.
By connecting Instagram to your studio’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, you will immediately reach more people. If someone retweets or shares your post on Facebook, you will gain exposure to that person’s networks, and you may get even more Instagram followers.
Is this working?
Like any other investment you make in your business, you will want to measure the results of your Instagram efforts. By tracking user engagement with your studio’s Instagram account, you can determine what types of posts are resonating and which posts are falling flat.
Instagram doesn’t provide users with very much data, but there are apps available that can provide you with the analytics you need. Iconosquare can help you learn more about your followers beyond how many you have and the total number of likes and comments you’ve received. The app shows you how your relationships in your Instagram community are growing. You can track followers you don’t follow back, followings who don’t follow you back, and reciprocal relationships.
Iconosquare also analyzes the best times for you to post, based on your audience’s activity. The general rule of thumb is to make Instagram posts during off-work hours, but, this app allows you to determine what days and times you are most likely to get in front of your specific following. You can see when your audience is most actively engaging with your posts and the average lifespan of your posts.
How Often to Post
Research has shown that the frequency of posting has little impact on the amount of engagement you will have from your Instagram audience. The key is to post consistently. You can make one or 21 posts per day, but if you are not consistent, you run a higher risk of being “unfollowed.”
Twenty-three year old Australian personal trainer Kayla Itsines has more than 2.3 million Instagram followers worldwide. She posts exercises, fitness tips, recipes and inspirational messages. What sets Itsines apart from so many other fitness experts who post selfie after selfie of their own hard bodies at work is her message. Itsines maintains that anyone can lead a healthy lifestyle and she has a significant following among fitness newbies. She even posts before and after pictures of people who have used her program (with their permission of course!).
The Big No-No
If your photo is blurry or the lighting is bad, don’t post it!
Our favorite apps to edit your instagram pics
Pic Stitch: Pic Stitch lets you quickly combine multiple photos in one beautifully framed image.
Squaready: the photo you want to share isn’t square. And you might lose some detail if you crop the pic. Don’t worry! You can use this app to format the photo for Instagram.
Camera+: Camera+ also lets you tweak the exposure of your photos by double-tapping your iPhone screen.