Strategic social media can drive traffic to your website, create a sense of community, increase engagement with your clients, and help you reach new potential customers. People often talk about and search for information on fitness in social media, including on the social media powerhouse Facebook, so it’s good sense to use social media for your gym.
Do you need to be HIPAA compliant?
Before you start planning a social media strategy for your gym, you need to determine whether you are covered by HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Here are some questions to consider:
- Is there a physical therapist, nutritionist, or other healthcare professional on your team?
- Do you collect medical information from your clients?
- Are you working in partnership with a hospital or other healthcare facility?
- Does your staff have access to patient records at a healthcare facility?
- Are your services covered by health insurance?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, read our post on HIPAA-compliant social media and check with your legal adviser to be sure of your responsibility under HIPAA.
If you need to be HIPAA-compliant, you must be sure not to post photos of your clients, or any personal information. Those “Missy lost 9 inches in one month!” announcements are not going to work for you.
Challenges and contests
30 day challenges, accountability contests, and the like are very popular in social media. Taking a well-defined action for 30 days often seems more manageable than making a permanent commitment, and participants support one another.
Any 30–day challenge can become a contest, too. Ask participants to post their progress at Facebook or Instagram every day for 30 days, and give a discount code or an “I Did It!” T-shirt to everyone who sticks it out for the whole 30 days.
You can simply join in on a 30 day challenge that’s already taking place. Your gym can commit to a popular 30 Day Abs Challenge and field a team on your Facebook page. You could also create your own unique 30 day challenge. If you go this route, keep these points in mind:
- Choose an activity with a clear goal. Giving a prize is a fun touch, but be sure that your participants have something bigger to keep them motivated. Donating something to charity can provide strong motivation. You can also focus on the health benefits of participation.
- Make the rules very clear. If it’s a “Move every day” challenge, does that mean a walk to the mailbox counts? If you’re swearing off sugar as a group, can participants make an exception for birthday cake? It’s important that no one who expects a win finds out at the end that they didn’t do what was expected. It’s also important that people who follow the rules don’t feel that others got away with being less vigilant. People can get surprisingly emotional about these things. You also don’t want people to give up because the rules are too complicated or confusing.
- Provide daily support. Post encouraging words and helpful tips every day. If you’re doing a squat challenge, make sure you have pictures of correct form and plenty of information about how to fit squats into your daily workout. Link to good resources on and off your website.
- Make it fun! If you aren’t limited by HIPAA regulations, you can post photos of participants working out in the gym or showing those post-workout smiles. Make sure you have permission! You can post pictures of your team or your facility even if you can’t post pictures of clients.
Answer members’ questions and concerns
For every one member who shares a hatred of planks or asks what protein sources are best, there are probably another dozen more who didn’t ask. Answer every question and concern on your social media platforms.
Feature one of your weight machines each week, with a clear explanation of how to use it. Create healthy meal plans for “Meatless Monday” or “Taco Tuesday” to capitalize on hashtags and searches. Post about specific classes and focus on the benefits of each.
Certainly, it’s best if these social media posts link to content on your website so that visitors to the social media page will go to your website. Your website is the place where you can most easily control your message and encourage conversions. But knowing that your Facebook page will provide good information on a regular basis will encourage your clients and prospective clients to return more often. Every connection increases the connection members feel, and makes it more likely that they’ll come in and keep coming.