If you own a gym or are a personal fitness trainer, I have good and bad news for you. The good news is that you will always have a target audience. Until science produces the elusive magic pill that will keep you fit no matter what you do, there will continue to be more than enough out-of-shape folks who need your services.
In fact, the "middle class" of fitness is disappearing as fast as the economic middle classes around the world. What I mean is that there are increasingly more "haves" and "have nots" - those that have too much weight and those who are living a more active lifestyle. The middle ground is disappearing as quickly as the country of Iraq (sorry for the sensitive geopolitical reference).
The bad news is that getting and keeping clients in the fitness industry is as tough as the U.S. real estate market was after the 2008 crash (oops, did I do it again?). Every December a multitude of people make their annual promise to get in shape the following year, and every April or so they cancel their gym memberships. It's a vicious cycle that's waiting for someone to figure out the key to retention. Social media could be that key for you.
Gyms and Fitness Centers
Gyms and fitness centers have a much higher turnover rate than personal trainers. It's much easier for someone to cancel a membership with a faceless entity than it is to tell someone face-to-face that they won't be using their services anymore. The age-old marketing technique for gyms is to get one day or even one month for free. The problem is that this method only helps (somewhat) with new clients, not with retention.
Here's a prime opportunity to use social media for keeping them coming back. Try this: ask your clients to check in every time they visit with Facebook, Foursquare, Google +, or whatever other option you want to include. If they check in two or more times each week for two months, give them a reward incentive (half-off their next month's fees maybe?).
Maker sure that you are updating your Facebook page with the latest classes offered, new equipment you've installed, and any other relevant newsworthy items. A good mix of posts might include personal success stories from members who are willing to share them, daily fitness tips, news articles related to exercise and good eating habits, and motivational quotes or images. Don't clog your feeds with sales pitches.
People want motivation, not constant attempts at their wallets.
Another vital practice for a business is responding to reviews on social sites. Not just bad reviews, but all of them. This is something that most businesses don't ever do, which is insanity since online reviews have a huge influence over most people under the age of 30 or so. You should be monitoring sites like Yelp, Google +, and others for any mention of your business' name and responding (positively and nicely). The best and easiest way to do this is using social media monitoring software.
If you are a self-employed personal trainer - even if you operate out of a gym somewhere - the best thing you can do is establish yourself as an expert in your field. That means that you really need to keep up with new developments in the fitness field, which you can then share with your fans and followers. Don't shy away from controversy either. There's nothing wrong with either agreeing or disagreeing with something, as long as your position doesn't offend people and will incite them to respond.
Keep in mind that fitness is an emotional thing for people. They may have low self-esteem because of their weight, or they might get a rush from getting bulked up. Understanding this will help you to choose your posts carefully to touch on those emotions. Emotional responses are always more passionate than logical information. Using the same mix as listed above is still a good idea- news blurbs, daily fitness tips, motivational posts. Instead of asking for new clients, ask your existing clients to share you with their friends who they think could use your services. Referrals are always the most powerful form of advertising.
Another type of post that can work really well for you is challenges. Social media users love a good challenge. Try a one week challenge instead of month-long, or they might lose interest. Then ask them to share if they are participating and, progress as they go, and their results. You can extend the time as you see certain challenges become successful. Ask for progress reports every day and use the responses to interact with them. Use comments about results to follow up for potential new clients.
All of this social activity on top of your daily client load can be burdensome, but it's absolutely necessary. The best way to lighten your load is by using a social media dashboard like Sendible that will allow you to schedule your posts, monitor the web for mentions, and respond to everyone across different platforms in one place.