By: Bryan O’Rouke, Fitmarc
At this year’s 2013 GGFA Owners’ Conference my round table topic was on providing case examples of the ROI for clubs using social media. For each group that visited the discussion my opening remark was the same, “The truth is I can’t show you that case.” Perhaps most people would have gotten up and left the discussion but thankfully they didn’t. My thesis was this: most companies aren’t really integrating their social media with their overall business let alone with their overall marketing plan. They don’t take the time to ask more about the “why and how” before they jump into creating a facebook account and figuring it out from there. From small companies to Fortune 100 companies, there are many examples, so don’t feel badly about it. (See the biggest Company Social media blunders http://www.bloomberg.com/video/-fails-the-stupidest-social-media-blunders-2SkSygeHTmWR9cTP1vjCvg.html )
The beauty of social media is that it’s not hard to jump into and that is also the problem. As more and more marketing agencies and “experts” pitch the idea that social is a silver bullet it only gets more confusing for organizations, particularly club owners who are juggling enough priorities already. So what’s the answer? It’s pretty simple yet profound. You need a basic plan.
I covered some of this during the GGFA education seminars at the Gold’s 2012 convention Effective Social Media Promotion and Marketing to Drive Gym Traffic. You can find the entire detailed deck here for FREE http://www.gobig.co/#sthash.fQeo4iwq.dpbs
If you want to be more effective with social media follow these simple steps:
1. Have A Marketing Plan and Integrate Social Into It. Making sure your social efforts align with your marketing plan is a key thing many club owners don’t do. If getting in shape for the summer is the focus for your marketing efforts at a given time, make sure your social media communications creatively reflect the same thing. Coordinating messaging and promotion is the smartest thing clubs can do to ensure there is a bigger impact from social media.
2. Understand Your Target. Who are you trying to reach? An effective social media plan requires a clear picture of your ideal member. With this, you can match up your social media marketing efforts with the social networks where your customers are spending their time. Women between the ages of 18 and 30 are Facebook’s main audience for instance, while LinkedIn users are mainly males with college-level educations. Find out where your target customers are networking online.
3. Know Your Competition. A major part of any marketing plan is understanding who you are competing against. Conduct a competitive deep-dive to get a sense of your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Dive into those subjects and start generating discussions, and you’ll be distinguishing yourself in the social sphere.
4. Create Value. A good plan requires more than posting a few tweets or posts. The path to success is finding a way to offer value without over selling. Educate, share information, help people, inspire them and provide valuable information. Being visual and creative is important here. Provide solutions to prospects challenges, show your commitment to the community, help other people just because.
5. Pay Attention to Frequency and Tone. Social media audiences can be finicky. They don’t appreciate hard sales pitches, and they like to be engaged—but not over-saturated with information. Finding the right balance is essential to success, and it’s another aspect of your campaign requiring a trial-and-error approach. An editorial calendar is a valuable tool for defining the who, what, when and where of your social strategy. What topics will you address? How frequently will you post, and to which networks?
6. Pay Attention To Analytics. You should be serious about your analytics. Platforms from Twitter to Facebook offer built-in analytics these days, allowing marketers to see which posts and updates are making the biggest impact and identifying the number of people a single post reached. Bit.ly, HootSuite and others offer powerful analytics as well. In addition to this data, your website analytics are important to measuring your social media success. If your strategy is working, you should see an increase in traffic and leads from your social networks.
Social media is a powerful and affordable marketing tool if it’s taken seriously and given considerable thought. Instead of a shotgun approach, follow these steps to create a social media plan with a focused, refined strategy to generate results. If you need help let me know because our team loves helping the Gold’s brand family.
About the author:
Bryan O’Rourke is considered a thought leaders on technology, health club and wellness trends. He has been quoted in periodicals like the Wall Street Journal, and has been published in journals around the world on how technology will revolutionize the health club and fitness industries. Bryan is also a financier, shareholder and executive in several companies. He has spoken on a range of business and trend topics on four continents. As a contract executive and advisor, Bryan wears many hats, including working for Fitmarc, which delivers Les Mills programs to over 700 facilities in the US. He advises successful global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank, is on ACE’s Industry Advisory Panel and is CEO of the Fitness Industry Technology Council . To learn more contact Bryan here today .