Fitness Marketing Pilates

Fitness marketing: how to use Instagram for gym promotions

Social MediaCategory
10 min read
Ashley Grant

If you’re like many business owners, you’re constantly trying to figure out how to use social media to get more clients. One of the most popular platforms for fitness marketing is Instagram. Why?

Instagram makes it easy to show — rather than tell — the transformation a person can enjoy using your services.

Want the inside scoop on using Instagram to your advantage? Below I share tips from three Instagram gurus on how you can use the platform to promote your fitness biz and take your internet fame game to the next level.

Warren Carlyle, founder of Octonation

Warren Carlyle is the founder of OctoNation, aka The Largest Octopus Fan Club, on Instagram. Yes, there really is an octopus fan club. Warren has used his tips to help fitness business owners like Jordan Syatt (aka Gary Vaynerchuk's fitness coach) blow up on Instagram.

Fitness Marketing Syatt Fitness
Warren Carlyle advises fitness pros like Jordan Syatt on how to look good on Instagram.

I first met Warren at an event called Sponsorship Boot Camp that teaches people how to get practically anything sponsored. During the event, he held an intensive workshop sharing the very tips he used with Jordan. Below is the gist of what he told us.

1. You need to be focused

This might seem obvious, but far too many people on Instagram are not focused when it comes to what they post on their business profiles. When you are posting about random things with no real theme, it’s easy for your business to get lost in the shuffle.

If your focus is on nutrition for weight loss, you should be posting things like infographics and photos, along with recipes and nutrition tips.

It’s kind of like how if you’re blogging for business, you should actually be posting things related to the business. When you post about the business, you can set yourself up as an expert, rather than a scatter-brained individual.

2. Post two to three times a day

People want you to be consistently posting so they can keep up with all those knowledge bombs. And, they need new stuff daily so they don’t get bored with you. There is a lot of content potential in the fitness industry, so hone in on what your clients need, and you should be able to come up with plenty of post ideas.

Fitness Marketing Ropes
Instagram is all about visuals, so it’s important your photos tell a story or invite a closer look.
Photo: TrendHype

Here are a couple of ideas adapted for fitness marketing from this Sprout Social post:

  • The great story behind that gym photo
  • What a typical work day looks like for you
  • Ways to making routine fitness fun
  • Photos of readers doing your routines
  • Moments in your personal history as a trainer or gym owner
  • The inspirational quotes that get you moving

Pay attention to what your audience likes, and adjust your Instagram fitness marketing strategy as needed.

3. Give them something valuable

Use your Instagram posts to give as much value as possible, and don’t require readers to head to your “link in bio” for the information they’re looking for.

I have to say this tip SHOCKED me! As a professional blogger, I thought the goal was to get people back to your website for the sake of those precious page views.

Warren says this is not the case with Instagram for business. He says that people these days don’t have the time or patience to click away from Instagram, so they want you to give them the goods all in one space.

Whether you’re writing a full post on how to properly do a squat, or how many times per week readers should work out to maintain their current weight, tell the whole story in the photo caption.

By including all these golden nuggets, Warren says you’ll increase engagement and attract followers who are more likely to book you that much faster.

4. Be engaging

Warren’s tips for amping up engagement among those who view your Instagram feed include:

  • Asking questions related to the post
  • Asking readers to tag a friend who could benefit from the post
  • Doing polls/surveys
  • Asking visitors what they want to know from you

The big takeaway for fitness marketing? Ask, ask, ask, and give, give, give!

Giveaways are also a great way to spark engagement, says Warren. You’ve probably seen them on Instagram, too. They say things like, “The rules for entering this giveaway are simple: 1. Follow our page 2. Follow our sponsor’s page 3. In the comments, tag two friends who would love to win this giveaway.” Something as easy as that can get your page flooded with love.

Another fabulous way to encourage engagement is to collaborate with other fitness business owners.

Let’s say your focus is on cardio, and you’re really diggin a new workout a fellow business owner has created. Reach out to them and ask if you can share a post of theirs and tag them in it. Odds are, by sharing their content, you can introduce their audience to your page and garner more likes and interest in your Instagram profile.

Hilary Rushford, founder of Dean Street Society

Hilary Rushford is a dancer-turned-fashion-stylist and founder of DeanStreetSociety, a seven-figure business. Now, you might be wondering what a fashion stylist has to do with fitness, and the truth is probably not much.

Channeled for fitness, Hilary Rushford’s Instagram tips can help you boost your brand.

Fitness Marketing Hilary Rushford
Take a page out of Hilary Rushford’s book for your Instagram gym promotions.

Hilary has more than 100,000 followers on Instagram and offers awesome, free  Instagram training online several times a year (at least at the time of this writing). In this training, she shares a few of these amazing tips:

1. Make it about them

The golden rule of Instagram for fitness marketing is that your profile is about your customers, not you! This is something I’ve personally seen too many businesses get wrong on Instagram. If you’re consistently “showing off” rather than showing your potential fitness clients the transformations they can expect, you’ll have a harder time being successful.

It’s amazing that you have a size two body and look cute in all of your club clothes. But what your potential clients really want to see is how you can give them that sexy body.

Your goal should be to first connect with your ideal fitness clients, then convert them to customers. Show them what’s in it for them and why they need you in their lives.

2. Show, don’t tell

Instagram is a very visual platform. Tell the story of transformation through amazing photos. Your content should be compelling and show your audience what they can expect from working with you.

Do you have any current clients who would be willing to let you show before-and-after photos? Share them! People love transformation photos. You could also share photos of:

  • How to do some of your favorite workouts
  • The best gear to wear while working out
  • Motivational quotes to keep people inspired

Just keep it themed around your fitness niche so you stay consistent.

3. Give something away in your bio

Hilary says to treat your Instagram bio as the first link in the chain of your marketing funnel. You could give away a sample workout plan, first-visit-free gym promotions or healthy recipes complete with grocery shopping lists. This is one time where you are giving your potential client a good reason to visit your site and give you their email address so you can start getting to know them better and begin the process of pitching them your services.

Alex Tooby, founder of Men and Coffee

Fitness Marketing Men and Coffee
A perfect example of the inspirational power of photography. Just wow.

I have personally been on Alex Tooby’s Men and Coffee Instagram profile more times than I’ll admit here. I will admit, though, that Alex knows what it takes to get eyeballs on an Instagram feed — and followers and likes to boot! Here are two of her best tips for growing your Instagram and how you can use them in your gym promotions.

1. Be strategic

You can’t just create an Instagram profile and just expect sales to roll in. As with everything in business, you need to be strategic in how you promote your fitness business on Instagram.

You need a strong foundation for your page.

This means a strong bio with a headline (featuring good keywords) that explains what your business does. You’ve got to be mindful of the fact you only have 150 characters to work with, though! Also, don’t forget to create a link in bio page that contains all your social channels, websites, and contact information. Include this link to your fitness business website in your bio. Alex says she sees far too many businesses that have NOT added a link in their bio. Hello! Free plug!

Alex says your fitness marketing content needs to be strategic as well. Don’t post with a carefree attitude. Consider things like themes that link your content together, using high-quality images related to the main focus of your business.

2. Use hashtags wisely

Yes, you should use hashtags, but don’t go crazy. Your hashtags must be specific and descriptive of your business. In the search area of Instagram, you can type a keyword related to your business, and Instagram will give you related tags to that keyword.

Alex says the more specific your hashtags are the better because they have less competition. But at the same time, you don’t want to use ones that have less than 1,000 public posts.

Again, it’s about focus. The maximum number of hashtags you can use is 30, but you should not always use the full 30. The main point here is to focus on hashtags directly related to your business and not just ones that are popular — people will see right through that.

Avoid banned hashtags. The shadowban is real, and you need to be mindful of which hashtags will cause your post to never be seen. The only real resource I’ve found that seems to have a list of banned hashtags is this Huffington Post list. I’m sure it’s been updated since then, however.

The best way to determine if you’re using a banned hashtag is if you suddenly see a deep drop in engagement.

But even then, you might not know which tag you used that caused the drop. Watch this tutorial from Preview App to learn how to check if a hashtag is banned on Instagram. Perhaps it can help.

Boost your fitness marketing

I hope these tips from Instagram experts can help you strengthen your fitness marketing efforts and bring more clients in your fitness business. With a little effort, and a lot of strategy, your Instagram profile could be the key to setting your gym promotions apart from all the other fitness brands online. May your followers be engaged, and your bookings be full!

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