As a millennial female from Los Angeles, I know my Instagram game through and through. I know when to post my pictures to get the most likes. I know which of my followers I can count on to hype me in comments. I can probably guess how many viewers all of my stories will have.
Because I am insane.
But like many others who fit my profile or interests, we are insane because we are products of the hyper-connected digital environment we live in.
While my personal use for Instagram is purely for entertainment and probably narcissism, the stark reality is that in terms of evaluating worth in the business world, social media power holds a lot of weight.
One of the largest benefactors of the omnipotence of social media has undoubtedly been the fitness industry.
Social Media’s Glorification of Fitness
The internet revolution catapulted public health consciousness to unprecedented heights, but social media is directly responsible for making fitness “popular”.
Living an active lifestyle, regularly exercising, and healthy eating have become “trendy”, and accordingly, sharing fitness related content has a massive digital following and engagement around the world.
The dominance of Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube consequently added to the overall clout of the industry. Fitness influencers have used these platforms to become international celebrities, nutrition and athletic clothing companies have created armies of loyal followers, and fitness clubs have rapidly grown in specialties and numbers every year.
The effect is contagious: aspiring fitness model is an extremely common side job, athleisure clothing is trendier than high fashion lines, and fitness clubs are flooded with users taking more mirror selfies on their stories than actually working out.
Given how saturated the fitness market has become on any level, the leaders of the industry, both people and businesses, did not get there on accident: they earned their respective notoriety through expertly manipulating their digital presence and social media image to engage users and create a devout following.
Intelligently using social media to build your fitness brand has evolved past just relying on business mission and intuition. In order to even be competitive, using analytics to apply fact-based knowledge to leverage social media outreach for fitness brands has proven to be crucial.
In fact, using analytics is by no means a secret any more. Famed fitness Youtubers, like Tammy Hembrow, Christian Guzman, and Heidi Somers, commonly discuss consulting metrics before making any social media postings about their own brands or endorsed products.
While many spheres of the fitness industry have clearly taken advantage of analytic tools, the gym and fitness club subcategory has still yet to fully capitalize off the potential data-based social media marketing can have.
How Social Media Metrics Can Revolutionize Fitness Clubs
The fitness club industry has grown immensely to include gyms of all makes, sizes, prices, and themes. Given this diversity, different social media strategies will benefit different types of gyms.
Many fitness clubs are also familiar with analytic platforms through their elite club management software systems.
The data is used to predict retention and churn rates from their current client bases so fitness clubs can stay a step ahead to keep their user satisfaction high.
Most importantly, the data is used to identify your most profitable demographics, which can be used for customer acquisition on social media.
Combining information from this BI unit with similar analytic measures for social media like Sotrender will allow clubs to gain invaluable insight as to who their most engaged and frequent users.
For example, you can see if your most engaged demographics on social media reflect your most loyal demographics in your club.
Gauging Customer Activity and Outreach
Sotrender allows users to access data regarding follower demographics, level of engagement, and trends associated with popular posts. These data points alone will encourage fitness clubs to tailor social media posts to specific audiences, strategically post at optimal times and days to have the furthest outreach, and syndicate the most relevant content to earn likes and shares.
In terms of customer acquisition across any type of gym, gauging viral impressions is a vital resource. Sotrender allows users to go outside the scope of follower impressions to categorize views earned from paid campaigns, organic followers, or viral posts.
This viral metric, which specifies viewers who organically found the post without actively following or marketing tactics, is an invaluable resource for analyzing margins of prospective interested new clients. Therefore, the style of posts that engage higher viral metrics should be mass produced to target these new potential leads.
Gym brands with extensive networks or locations can manipulate their social media channels to make their clubs impress a more personal touch. By cross-referencing demographics and responses to social media posts from various club locations, these larger gyms can tailor their social media campaigns to their most engaged customers, resulting in higher probabilities of positive feedback.
Additionally, cross-referencing data from different club locations will allow fitness clubs to identify patterns or specified trends between clientele.
If responses are mixed depending on location, then clubs can launch localized campaigns based off those unique preferences. That personal introspection enables club management to treat each location like the unique unit it is as opposed to grouping all client preferences together on a macro level.
One larger scale fitness club that has brilliantly gauged its metrics to create a strong social media community is the popular high-end gym Equinox. Equinox has publicly aligned their brand with an all-encompassing luxurious fitness lifestyle, using images of lavish facilities, designer workout outfits, gourmet healthy recipes, and high profile events like fashion shows and cocktail parties.
Accordingly, not only are Equinox’s engagement on posts consistently high, but its reputation as an elite fitness club is commonly known by members and non-members alike. This identity branding has helped Equinox both retain old members while attracting new like-minded ones who want a more extensive experience from their fitness club.
While creating campaigns and brand identities is essential for fitness club marketing, being able to comprehensively track their impact and continuously revise or improve these strategies is what makes them successful. Sotrender provides consistent aggregated data reports in order to make sure campaigns maintain the same positive public response that they launched with.
Boutique Fitness Clubs on Social Media
Excluding the massive chains, most fitness clubs fit the bill as a prime example of a small business. Where small businesses tend to have the upper hand on corporate giants is their ability to create a cult-like following with customer loyalty.
However, to gain this type of following, fitness clubs need to deliver on the promise of elite personal experience: growth and survival of boutique clubs is completely dependent upon customer service and developing personal relationships with members.
A boutique fitness club is characterized by a class-based structure that offers a specific fitness experience that would be difficult to replicate at a traditional club. They have skyrocketed in popularity due to the exceptional and intimate environment they provide.
Fitness expert Pete McCall describes the consumer appeal as,
“A fitting analogy is fast food vs. fine dining — the former provides basic food needs while the latter may be much more expensive, but provides a unique, hard-to-match experience.”
Famed examples of these passionate followings to fitness clubs belong to CrossFit, Orangetheory, and Soulcycle. All three of these clubs have masterfully crafted their social media images to be extremely interactive, allowing these fan bases to provide most of their visual content for them. They have similarly produced merchandise and apparel that mirrors their social media campaigns, encouraging their customers to truly fit the mold of the community.
Social media for these small-scale clubs serves as the highway that connects branding to client allegiance. Often times, customer loyalty to this boutique fitness experience can be their most effective, and free, form of advertising. Knowing which campaigns will be the most successful can rely off which specific campaigns earned the highest Impressions with viewers:
Highest impressions and responses can indicate which marketing ideas will translate to community-building opportunities.
However, building a reputable brand and experience may not be enough. Since boutique clubs have expanded dramatically, competition within their fields is at an all-time high.
Think about how many specialty yoga, pilates, interval training, barre method studios you can think of within your neighborhood alone. Not only do these studios have to validate their worth compared to large traditional gyms, but they have to stand out against competition down the street that offers similar services and experiences.
In order to beat the competition, you have to know your competition. Sotrender permits users to compare their social media statistics, outreach, and strategies with competitor businesses, which will put them ahead of the game in terms of surveying the client landscape and deploying their own strategies.
The Fitness Industry as a whole would not be where it is today without different aspects of social media getting it there. As the “popularity” of fitness shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon, related businesses need to stay current with every digital opportunity.
Social Media analytics have a wealth of untapped potential in terms of helping fitness clubs distinguish themselves in their increasingly competitive market.