Guest Blog Post Written by Sam Ratcliffe, Social Media Manager at Bigwave media.
About Sam: Sam specialises in delivering social media management strategies which maximise engagement and grow audiences for health and fitness clubs, leisure centres and gyms.
According to Statista, 65% of Instagram’s total users are aged between 18 and 34, so the chances are a considerable percentage of your members are on Instagram. And if you, like everyone else in the industry, are trying to improve your member retention by engaging with your members, Instagram might not be a bad addition to your arsenal. And hey, if an egg can make it work, so can you.
Like Facebook, Instagram uses an algorithm that will populate the user’s feed based on what it thinks they want to see. However, unlike the highly monetised world of Facebook marketing, Instagram (while it is owned by Facebook and already offers paid solutions) isn’t yet imposing the same, rather punishing, algorithms on business profiles. In theory, if you’re savvy with your strategy, you can grow an interactive following, strengthen your engagement and build a community around your business, on your terms.
Therein lies my main point and if you stop reading here, while I will be offended, you will have at least learned one very important lesson: Think of social media as a room full of people; who wants to talk to the person who only talks about themselves? No one. Who wants to talk to the funny, interesting person who asks you questions and makes you feel part of the conversation? Everyone. Apply this philosophy to your Instagram, nay your entire social media strategy, and you’ll do alright.
Here are a few examples of how to engage with your members on Instagram:
1. TELL STORIES AND GO LIVE
Stories is one of Instagram’s newer features which is seeing more and more traction. While the content may come with a timer, Instagram stories are very much here to stay. In layman’s terms, a story is a photo or video which is visible on your profile but only stays there for 24 hours. You can also go live on Instagram stories. Going live on your stories is great for two reasons:
- People get a notification to say you’re live, increasing your chances of getting them to tune in.
- It offers great insight into who you are, what you do and doesn’t need to be too polished! Your members can ask questions and you can answer them in real time.
2. DOUBLE TAP
Fantastic advice for life in general, that you should 100% include in your Instagram strategy: treat others as you’d like to be treated. It’s called social media for a reason… be social. Like and comment on your members’ posts and give them a follow to make sure you’re seeing their content. Who knows, they may throw a like, a comment or a follow-back your way.
3. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
Don’t just use the search bar to find pictures of food, your ex and funny memes, search instead for the location of your business to unlock a huge bank of images which use your location tag. Chances are some of them will be relevant to you so get stuck in with the advice from point 2; which brings us nicely onto point 4.
4. USER GENERATED CONTENT
Good content is like gold dust and a great way to find mountains of free content is to reuse your members’ posts! Make sure you ask for permission first and credit them in the caption, but chances are they’ll love a bit of limelight. Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom you’ve got a great photo or video which perfectly advertises your business – everyone’s a winner! Check out apps for “regramming” which make things easier or go manual: screenshot, crop, post. This is a helpful article on the subject.
They say a picture says a thousand words, so how many does a vid… sorry, I can’t bring myself to commit to that clichéd sentence but in fairness, it makes a good point and video really doesn’t need to be too polished on Instagram. Something like ‘top tips’ from one of your PTs will make for great content and you can encourage your members to pose their own questions in response. Next thing you know, you have yourself a recurring feature which your members will love.
6. TAG PEOPLE – if it’s relevant
Instagram allows you to tag up to 10 people in a post so utilise that functionality! It’s obviously worth doing if one of your members is in the picture (and has OK’d you using it) but you could also try tagging other accounts like the equipment provider or general fitness-focused accounts, they are looking for content too!
This is a bit of a buzz word at the moment and if you’ve seen the Fyre Festival documentary on Netflix, you’ll have seen the extreme end of the scale. But, when you think about it, anyone is an influencer. If you post about a brand on social media, you’re one too; you’re just not getting paid to do so. Your members are technically influencers if they’re posting about your business and there’s a good chance that one or two of them could have a decent following on Instagram – reach out to them and offer them a freebie in exchange for advertising your business in a post. That’s literally influencer marketing in a nutshell. Instagram require that sponsored influencer/brand ambassador content is specified as such. Using #ad or #spon is sufficient for this but here’s a really helpful article for more information.
Hashtags are an incredibly effective way of getting your content seen, but also finding content. People are likely to be hashtagging your business already so dive into the hashtag and start engaging with their posts. I’m talking likes and comments (see step 2), I’m talking regramming (see step 4). Basically, ENGAGE! Also, make sure you create your own hashtag and encourage members to use it, and soon enough you’ll see a community of people forming.