Social media has pervaded our daily lives to the degree that you’ll be hard pressed to find a member of your gym who doesn’t use it at all. Over 90% of young adults (18-29) and 2/3 of all Americans, use social media in some way.
Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provide you with a great opportunity to reach and interact with your gym members and potential visitors, for a relatively small investment of time and effort.
Most gym managers are aware that they can benefit from using social media, though it might not be clear to them what exactly they should be getting out of it. Let’s go over the main reasons you should be using social media for your gym:
1. Acquiring new members
The main business objective for most gyms is getting new members. Members pay the bills and allow a school to grow and prosper. In a previous article in which I’ve written about how people find their martial arts gym, social media ranked pretty low as a method people use to find a new school (4%).
That makes sense, as most people actively search for a place to train, rather than discover it by chance on social media, and the main channels they will use to do so will often be a search engine or asking people who already train.
Having said that, social media can still act in a supporting role for attracting new members. Beginners especially, will often contemplate joining a gym for a while before deciding to actually drop in at the location (the struggle is real). If they scout your Facebook or Instagram page while thinking about visiting, you can tip the scales by posting photos and videos of training, showcasing how the facilities look like and how classes are run.
2. Improving member retention
Member retention is critical for the survival of a martial arts gym. Training is physically demanding and requires discipline and motivation to continue doing over a long period of time.
People who miss some time due to injury or personal reasons are at the highest risk group for quitting. Sometimes, all they need is a little push to remind them how fun and rewarding training can be – and social media is a great way to do so.
A great example of this is the Facebook page of the University of Jiu-Jitsu, the academy I train at currently. They post daily photos and videos of training sessions, belt promotions, special visitors and more, which really makes you wish you were there, training. This kind of constant reminder is very helpful in keeping members engaged and motivated to come train the next day.
3. Communicating with members of the gym
Martial arts gyms have a lot going on at any given time – changes to the schedule, upcoming tournaments, special visitors and seminars, amongst other things.
Making sure everyone knows what’s going on can be a pain – and social media is a huge help in that respect. You can post on your gym page and create events on Facebook to broadcast that information to people who miss the announcements you make at the gym.
The Facebook page of a gym I used to train at, Heroes Martial Arts, is really good with this approach. Notifications about tournaments in the area are always posted, as well as schedule changes for the holidays and other special occasions. Impromptu training sessions are constantly announced there by the gym members themselves.
4. Smells like team spirit
Social media allows gym members to communicate with each other outside of training, and build a stronger sense of team. This is often done using private groups on Facebook, where members can only join by invitation, as it allows people to speak and share much more freely.
Members can share technique videos, discuss training and post memes and other fun stuff that creates a sense of camaraderie and team. Those interactions and relationships act as a support framework and motivation for the members, and increase the chance they will keep coming to train through tough times.
5. Building a brand
Not every martial arts instructor is a world champion or a known innovator of the art. However, you can still build a recognizable brand with a strong social media presence. This requires more effort with creating unique and interesting content – such as instructional or humorous videos, but it can be worth it for building name recognition.
For example, I became familiar with Nick Albin through his Chewjitsu Instagram account, which constantly posts fun and relevant videos which I enjoy watching. Without his online presence on social media and forums, I probably would’ve never heard of him. Another good example is the Youtube account of the BJJ Revolution team in Baton Rouge. The instructor, Josh Mancuso, constantly publishes high quality instructional videos which reach an audience much larger than the gym members and their immediate connections.
Social media can be a powerful tool for supporting and growing your gym members. While it might seem tedious at first, if you make a routine of keeping your gym accounts active you will definitely reap the benefits in the long run.
Do you use social media in a unique way to support your gym? Tell us about it in the comments below!