Promoting Your Health Club on the New Facebook

December 15, 2011
While more health clubs are investing in health club management software to improve operations and connect better with customers and prospects, few have mastered the use of social media as an effective way to reach out to new audiences.It isn’t a matter of when but how health clubs should use sites like Facebook, and while businesses everywhere are trying to keep up with all the latest changes on the social channel, the most successful health club marketers will be those that not only learn to navigate, but master the site.

If you’re not sure how to use the new Facebook to promote your health club, follow these 5 tips:

1. Think Like Mark Zuckerberg
At the 2011 f8 conference, Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook team emphasized once again the overriding theme of the site — engagement. However, many businesses don’t keep engagement at the top of their social networking strategies. There are countless business pages with profiles and pictures and like buttons, but they aren’t updated regularly and they don’t invite followers into any sort of conversation.

In fact, David Fischer, VP of advertising and global operations for Facebook says that 9.2 million businesses have Facebook pages, but only 3.2 million maintain regular engagement.

Just getting people to your page isn’t enough. Entice them into a relationship with competitions, special offers and gifts. Encourage sharing, and above all else, provide fresh, relevant content to show visitors that you understand what they are looking for in a health club.

2. Get To Know Your Audiences
Facebook is encouraging users to share more information about themselves than ever before. The new Timeline feature culls out the important activities and updates from the mundane by separating types of posts. (Daily and ordinary updates are now relegated to the Ticker while only the important updates make the Timeline).

You can use this feature to your advantage by staying on track of audience behavior and interests and then creating content that you know will appeal to them more specifically.

3. Listen And Respond
Create a dialog with your audience by asking questions and/or creating contests (i.e. “What’s your favorite workout?” or “Rate our trainers.”). You’ll get a window into how your prospects think.

However, don’t stop there. When people give you feedback, let them know you appreciate their thoughts and comments. You can even incorporate those comments into your club promotional materials and email marketing.

4. Conduct a Poll or Survey
Now you can easily create and add polls and surveys to your Facebook Fan page. Using free tools like Polldaddy, health club marketers can easily engage their fans on Facebook and generate interesting information at the same time.

The other nice feature of a poll or survey is that they have a longer shelve life than other types of content. If your club decides to run a poll such as “What is your favorite part about your health club?” you can republish this poll on a weekly basis until the poll ends or you get a sizable number of respondents.

Finally, everybody loves to see survey and poll results, so after you close the poll, you can write a summary post about it on your health club’s Facebook page, and drive even more engagement and discussion.

5. Take Facebook’s Help
In September Facebook announced a program to help small businesses use the site more effectively. The channel will provide educational programs in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and National Federation of Independent Business to conduct outreach to businesses nationwide.

By January 2012, Facebook will even give a $50 ad credit to 200,000 businesses to jumpstart their advertising on the site ($10 million in free advertising).

Fischer says Facebook is dedicated to helping stimulate businesses. “We spend a lot of time thinking about how we can work with small businesses, and we know we have tools to help them effectively.”

The evidence behind being a savvy web-based business is clear. Facebook has found that businesses that use web technology grow two times faster, bring in twice the revenue, and double their job creation compared to those who don’t.

Facebook like the Internet will continue to grow and change, and while the digital landscape morphs, health clubs should stay on top of the new advances and directions in order to reach their prospects where they are, online.