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How to nail social media marketing for fitness centers
February 3, 2022 •

If you’re planning some paid social media marketing for your fitness center, you’ll want to be sure you’re getting the biggest possible bang for every buck of your investment, maximizing results and ROI for your business.

That’s harder to do than it was when social media marketing first entered the picture, but there are ways to ensure your gym’s Facebook ads – we’ll focus on Facebook here as it’s the largest and most universal platform – hit the mark. We’ll go into the detail of our five social media tips for gyms in a moment.

Before we do that, though, it’s well worth setting the scene, looking at why you might consider paid Facebook ads as part of your gym’s marketing campaign in the first place.

The ‘why’ of social media marketing for fitness centers

With a very grand total of 4.55 billion active users globally, the reach of the social media platforms is truly vast – and still growing. As at October 2021, Facebook alone had 2.90 billion users. 

Then think about how much time we all spend on social media… Be honest. How many hours a day are you scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, Twitter? 

Globally, the average amount of time spent on social media each day – per internet user between the ages of 16 and 64 – is two hours and 27 minutes (compared to three hours 21 minutes watching broadcast or streamed TV, for example). And that’s the average. Just think what your kids’ daily usage is likely to be.

Indeed, data from We Are Social’s Digital 2021 report shows that social media is now the primary place younger generations look for information about the brands they’re interested in and the things they want to buy. Rather than doing a Google search, as older generations might do, young people go straight to their chosen social media platform(s) for a simultaneous hit of information and inspiration.

Even as an average across all global internet users aged 16–64, “finding inspiration for things to do and buy” and “finding products to purchase” come pretty high up the list of main reasons to use social media – as the chart below shows.

Meanwhile, 72 per cent of all global internet users aged 16–64 use social media to research brands. 

Quite simply, if you aren’t on social media, you aren’t on people’s radar.

Facebook marketing for gyms – the 5 things you need to know 

“But we are on social media,” we hear you say. 

What does that look like in practice, though? Because if social media marketing for your fitness center currently consists of a quick daily post on your Facebook and Instagram pages and a hope for the best… yeah, that isn’t going to work.  

Allow us to take you through five things you absolutely need to know when you’re planning social media campaigns for your gyms.

#1 – Organic reach is a thing of the past

Yes, we’re afraid it’s true. 

An organic approach used to work in the past: you were a brand with a good following, you’d post something on your Facebook page, your followers would see it. Simple.

Nowadays, however, the average organic reach is around 5 per cent for a Facebook page – i.e. if you post something on your page, only 5 per cent of your followers will actually see it. The figure is worse still for pages with large numbers of followers. 

This decline has been going on for a while, in fact, ever since Facebook started letting brands advertise on their platform in the noughties. People started to really notice in 2012, though, when the average reach for an organic post fell to 16 per cent. With that figure now at 5 per cent, it’s clearly only got worse since then as Facebook has continued to refine its algorithm, prioritising certain engagements over others, de-prioritising branded content so it doesn’t drown out posts by users’ friends and so on. It’s getting harder and harder for branded posts to be seen organically.

Facebook marketing is now, unavoidably, pay to play. 

In other words, you have to nail your social media ads, because that’s where customers are.

#2 – Even ‘pay to play’ is getting harder

So, you’ve now realized you have to put some money behind your gym’s Facebook ads. The first challenge is that the average Cost Per Impression has been rising over the past year, up 34 per cent between October 2020 and October 2021. (In the below slide, note that CPM is cost per 1,000 impressions.)

Yet in spite of the rising cost, your gym’s Facebook ad can still fail. Your ad might be shown to a lot of people, yet the click-through rate and/or conversion rate remains low. Perhaps the conversion rate is OK, but those who convert turn out to be poor quality members, leaving after a few months or after taking advantage of your limited time offer.

When this happens, people often assume there’s something wrong with their content. In reality, however, the greater issue tends to be targeting.

#3 – Targeting: The secret of successful gym Facebook ads 

Facebook allows any fitness business to specify the broad characteristics of its ideal customer – age, gender, interests and so on – to ensure the ads it’s paid for target the correct audience(s).

However, add AI and things immediately go up several gears in terms of accuracy. All of a sudden, your Facebook ads are targeted around an in-depth profile of your ideal customer, not merely a broad brushstroke description of ‘fitness enthusiasts aged 25–45’. 

Here’s how it works.

You introduce Keepme AI to your gym and from your database of existing members, it builds up a picture of your ideal customer: the customer who stays with you the longest, with the highest lifetime value. 

Underpinning this, Keepme will know the precise factors that characterise your ideal customer – everything from their demographics, to the classes they do, to the apparel they buy from you. It can then use this insight to create an avatar of that perfect customer, which forms the basis for your social media targeting. 

Let’s take Facebook ads as an example. You can use Keepme to export a list of every customer who matches your avatar and upload this to Facebook, to create what Facebook calls a Custom Audience. Facebook’s own highly advanced AI – Facebook knows a huge amount about every user based on what they do and the sort of things they interact with – can then generate ‘Lookalike’ audiences that contain Facebook users who fit the bill of your ‘ideal customer’ avatar. So when you target your Facebook ad to a Lookalike audience, you can ensure your ad is served only to those who look very similar to your best, highest LTV (lifetime value) customers. 

Your cost of acquisition will be reduced, too, because you only pay Facebook for a very specific type of person; in our experience, you might get fewer clicks, but your conversion rate will be higher and your conversion cost lower. In other words, you’ll sell more gym memberships per dollar invested – and your members will stick around for longer, too, driving higher LTV.

#4 – You still need to get the creative right

It’s important, in such a targeted campaign, that your ads are pitch perfect for your audience: at a very minimum, you should tailor them by age and gender. 

But you can go much, much further with the help of AI. Troy Morgan, managing director of Willows Health & Lifestyle Centre in Australia, explains: “With Keepme having established avatars of our ideal members, our advertising agency in New York can come to us for each new campaign and request we take specific photos that will resonate with our target audiences. That imagery is then used in our Facebook and Google ads, and the leads that come in are exactly the right demographics – exactly the right profile to give us high lifetime value members.”

Even then, you should regularly A/B test your creative, tweaking spend behind the different ads as needed. Our advice is to always go into your A/B testing with a clear hypothesis. Know exactly what you’re looking to test, and only test one variable at a time: a clear data point that you can learn from and apply to future Facebook marketing for your gym.

Use a large enough sample that the test is statistically significant: it’s easy for small data sets to be skewed by a few anomalous results, leading to conclusions you can’t actually rely on.

Finally, don’t feel you have to stop at one A/B test. Once you’ve determined whether your initial hypothesis is correct (or not), try testing another variable to refine your ads still further. 

#5 – Don’t forget remarketing

Few people convert on the first touchpoint you have with them, so it’s important to build ‘remarketing’ into any social media marketing you do for your fitness center. 

But why, and what even is remarketing?

Remarketing, also known as retargeting, is another tool to ensure your gym’s Facebook ads are served to a relevant, receptive audience – and it uses a tool called a pixel.

Facebook Pixel is a piece of code you install on your own website, where it sits quietly behind the scenes, capturing who has visited which pages in your website and what actions they have completed while there. 

Say, for example, you’re a health club and someone has come to your website and clicked the ‘Join Now’ button – but then they leave before entering their card details and completing the sign-up process. Facebook Pixel can see that. Next time this individual visits Facebook, your ad will be served to them, reminding them to take action on their half-completed sign-up.

Facebook Pixel is free, so it’s a no-brainer to install it on your key web pages – membership prices, for example – to continue to serve your targeted ads to those who have already shown an interest in your club.

Even if you don’t plan to do any paid social media marketing for your fitness center just yet, you should still install Facebook Pixel on your website now because it needs time to collect data. (N.B. it also works when running ads on Facebook’s sister platform, Instagram)

As we always say at Keepme, you’ll never wish you had less data. 

Find out more about using AI to cost-effectively attract more high-value customers. Book a Keepme demo now. 

Want to know more about social media usage around the world? Watch our video blog with Simon Kemp of Kepios and We Are Social, or check out the latest global stats and trends here.

How Social Media Impacts Your Member Retention

How Social Media Impacts Your Member Retention
September 20, 2019 •

The social media efforts of a gym can have a significant impact on customer loyalty, increasing the perception of trustworthiness, creating substantial opportunities for interaction and communication and fostering a sense of belonging and community – all of which have a positive impact on member retention rates.

With 2.45 billion monthly active Facebook users to date, social media has become more influential then ever when it comes to consumer behaviour. With over 60 million active business Pages and 49% of users like a Facebook page to support a brand they like, you cant afford to not be present on social .

However, it is essential for those devising retention and marketing strategies to understand how to use social media to ensure that it delivers the most significant impact, and to avoid common pitfalls that businesses can fall into when using social media that can end up doing more harm than good. 

So what are the kinds of things that gyms should be using social media for?

Competitions

Announcing competitions on social media is a great way to engage your members. Offer a valuable prize such as free personal training sessions or a piece of wearable fitness technology, and consider what would be most helpful to try and capture in return. Competition entries could be made in exchange for liking and sharing the post, for follows on social media accounts, or in exchange for contact information, newsletter signups, completing a survey, and so on.

Photos

Encouraging photo sharing on social media is like free marketing for your gym. It boosts the sense of community and connection between members, encourages members to take pride in their workouts and to reach out and support one another by liking each other’s photos.

Events

If you are holding a special event, advertising the introduction of new classes or gym equipment or hosting a fundraising event, social media can be the ideal place to shout about it. Doing so will show members that you care about them and the local community, thus making them feel valued and reminding them that you are the kind of brand whose way of thinking aligns with their own.

People

Starting Conversations

When it comes to fostering customer loyalty, communication is vital, and excellent communication delivers a more positive customer experience, and an enhanced customer experience translates to higher retention rates. Social media platforms can be an excellent place to start conversations. By asking the right questions, you’ll learn more about your customers, their needs and desires and be able to provide valuable answers or let them know that you are listening and intend to take action.

Utilising groups

Social media groups are also useful for starting conversations, for subtle marketing of your business and for finding out more about members attitudes towards working out in general. You can also use groups to ask pertinent questions and discover what would motivate members to continue to exercise, what kinds of things are important to them, and would make them feel loyalty towards a particular brand. 

The benefits of using social media for member retention

By using social media for the above, gym owners can hope to experience a number of significant benefits, all of which help to keep member retention rates high. Such benefits include:

Increased connection

By creating useful, exciting, engaging social media platforms gyms are encouraging members to become connected to the gym. Emotional connection is vital when trying to develop brand loyalty, and the better connected a member feels to the gym and the more positive their experience of the brand, the less likely they are to be tempted elsewhere. In fact IHRSA research stated that “reaching out to a member—whether by phone, email, text, or social media—more than doubles the likelihood that they will be a “promoter” rather than a “detractor.”

Build relationships

The importance of building customer relationships in any successful businesses cannot be underestimated. Using social media to reach out to customers on a personal level and foster these intimate relationships will again help members to feel valued and respected and strengthen their emotional ties to the gym.

Boosts motivation

By using social media platforms to motivate members, you can encourage them to make the most of their memberships. Data suggests that the more a member attends the gym, the more likely they are to keep doing so, so it is well worth investing some time and resources into inspiring members to continue to workout. 

Inspires healthy competition

By encouraging members to post pictures and videos of their workouts, you can also promote a healthy sense of competition. Post stats about the average length of workouts or frequency of visit, or encourage people to post when they have achieved their fitness goals, or to share them in the first place. This can help to catalyse a sense of competition amongst members, which can help to motivate them to continue using the gym. 

Increases reach

Using social media effectively also opens up a much broader opportunity to reach potential new members. All the most prominent social media platforms give you access to handy tools and statistics which means that gyms can create tailored, targeted marketing campaigns and deliver them to particular audiences to ensure that they make the most impact. In order to remain competitive, gyms must take advantage of these analytics to apply fact-based knowledge to leverage social media outreach for fitness brands.

Can be used for social listening

Social media is also helpful to understand what people are saying about your business. By monitoring comment sentiment and mentions of the brand, owners can get a clearer picture of pain points and positives and will have the ability to react more quickly and respond where necessary to limit any damage to the gym’s reputation. 

Using social media intelligently is an essential way for any gym to build up their fitness brand and by doing so and spending increasing amounts of time devising intelligent strategies to use these platforms to greatest effect, gyms can hope to not only reach new customers but strengthen their relationships with existing ones which should have a hugely positive impact on member retention rates.

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