If you read our blog on the regular (and you totally should), you’ve probably noticed that member retention is a common theme. We’ve drafted several blog posts about how certain things like customer service and fitness trends can have an impact on member retention. Heck, we even created a popular 8 Step Guide to Member Retention providing simple tips that can help increase loyalty among members at your fitness business. Even though our VP of Marketing wrote a blog just a couple weeks ago about how your gym’s community can impact retention (and she even mentioned how we write a lot of about member retention), it inspired me to share one more story about how the social media efforts of my gym have had a big impact on me continuing to come back.
It’s Not Official Until You’re Facebook Friends
It’s been about two years since I started at my current affiliate gym, and from the very start, I have been very impressed with them. After attending my first free beginners class, the coach called me and invited me back for a one-on-one consultation. During this consultation, we talked about my fitness past and set reasonable goals for myself. This meeting also contained what I thought at the time was a tough baseline workout (I could barely do two pull-ups with assistance from the thickest band). From that moment on, I knew the gym was truly invested in my success.
As I started regularly attending beginner’s classes, I instantly picked up on how friendly and welcoming every single coach was. The coaches did a great job remembering everyone’s name, which isn’t an easy task especially with beginner’s classes that were full of new faces every night. It took about two weeks of attendance before I met the owner of the gym, who also coached many of the classes. Like everyone else, he was super friendly. A couple days after attending his class, I received a friend request from him on Facebook. I really appreciated this effort, as it seemed like a personal invitation to join his community. Sure, some people might not like an instant friend request from someone they just met, but I thought this was a great way to finish out an already extremely warm welcome to the gym.
Post and Tag Bad Ass Photos
CrossFit® is an incredible program that encourages people to do amazing things. One thing that I really liked about my gym was how they would share photos of our members doing these amazing movements on a monthly basis. Throughout the month, our coaches would take tons of pictures during the WODs. At the end of the month, the owner would post a photo album on the gym’s Facebook page and tag members in each individual photo. I have no doubt that this was a time consuming process, but it was great for a number reasons:
• It’s not bragging if you don’t post it: Perhaps I’m too self-conscious, but I’m very particular about what I do and do not post on Facebook. The main reason for this is I never want it to look like I’m bragging to my friends. I love having bad ass pictures of myself squatting heavy weights or doing high box jumps on Facebook, but honestly, I don’t want to post them myself. Having someone else posting these pictures of me was awesome, and took away the guilt that would have been associated with me posting them myself.
• Free marketing for your gym: Posting pictures of your members participating in workouts is one thing, but tagging all of your members is another. With Facebook’s latest algorithm updates, it’s becoming more and more difficult to have your content discovered organically. However, if you post pictures and tag your members, there’s a good chance that people who aren’t members will see photos of their friends in the newsfeed. This will increase your exposure and give potential prospects a good idea of the types of workouts you offer, as well as the type of crowd that attends your gym.
• Get your members talking: My favorite part of viewing these photos every month was reading the supportive comments our athletes would write. People would always cheer on one another, tell each other how strong or fit they’re looking and post a “congrats!” message on photos that captured someone doing something amazing. This definitely helped build a strong community at our gym, as well as friendships outside of the gym.
Share Success Stories
Similar to posting awesome pictures of your athletes being the all-around bad asses that they are, don’t forget to share their individual success stories on Facebook. If someone hits a PR or achieves a goal, a Facebook post is a great way to publicly recognize that person, so your community can congratulate them on their accomplishment as well.
As anyone who has been to a box knows, achieving your first muscle-up is a pretty big freaking deal. My gym does a wonderful job sharing videos of athletes achieving the momentous event that is their first successful muscle-up (note that this is not a video of me, I’m still working towards this big goal). This makes members feel special, and is an easy way to get a ton of engagement from a single post. These muscle-up achievement videos typically get close to 50 likes and receive a ton of comments. If you’ve been managing a Facebook business page for a while, you know that its no easy feat to get numbers like that from a single post.
Posting these pictures and videos is a great way to get your members to know each other better, cheer each other on, and most importantly, really feel like they’re part of something. If you have been posting the successes of your members, and making them feel like they’re really part of a bigger team, there’s a good chance that they’ll want to continue coming back to your gym.
Facebook groups are another great way to get your members to know each other better and to build a stronger community at your gym. At my gym, there’s a women’s-only, invite-only Facebook group that current members manage. I honestly don’t know who started this group, whether it was a member or a coach, but it’s done great things for the business. In this group, people talk about everything from WODs and PR accomplishments, to gardening tips and group get-togethers outside of the gym. This group has been a great platform for us to get to build our strong community, and get to know members that we normally wouldn’t workout with. For example, if you’re an AM WOD-er, you likely wouldn’t know any from the PM crowd. Having a group like this can introduce people outside of their normal class times, as well as new members.
Create Events, Even for Simple Things
Sure it’s easy to write on your whiteboard about an upcoming event, but why not promote it and get your members talking about it through a Facebook event? Whether you’re starting a fitness challenge, or planning a Halloween party, a Facebook event is a great way to spread the word to your community about the event and to build anticipation for it. My gym has done a great job utilizing the events feature on Facebook, from everything to the yearly holiday party to organizing a group outing to watch the premier of Pitch Perfect 2. Again, while this might seem like an insignificant thing, it helps build a stronger community by making people feel like they’re truly part of something.
While these efforts may seem simple enough, I can guarantee you that they’ll have a big impact on your members. Making people feel important, like they’re a key component to your strong community, will encourage them to keep coming back, even when they move a couple blocks further away from the gym, have new hours at work or see a new, fancy gym open up down the street. That feeling of importance, combined with being part of an amazing community, is definitely what has kept me at my gym. So start taking pictures, making friends with your members and sharing their accomplishments on Facebook, and be sure to let us know how these efforts have helped your retention rates.
Looking for additional ways to keep your members coming back? Get your copy of our guide 7 Essential Strategies for Member Retention today!