By Kirryn Zerna.
Ambitious small business owner Matt Grant faced the chilling problem of a decline in attendees for his outdoor fitness training program over winter.
Matt knew most people think winter is the most demotivating time of year, and was ashamed to say he believed them.
“Once I changed my perception,” Grant says, “MG Fitness changed forever from a fitness business to a fitness community.”
“I set a goal to create one of the most exciting fitness programs out there and prove to people that you can, and should, train through winter. I set about extending that energy and buzz through my marketing, of which social media became a brilliant, low-cost, real time tool to connect with my community. It also invited others to share the experience – and will, hopefully, mean more people sign up for my future programs.”
Aussie businesses shy on social
While Grant focuses on social media as a key aspect of his strategy, Australian businesses plan to spend less on social media in the next 12 months, according to a recent Sensis survey.
Reasons for this, according to the survey of 1,100 Australian companies, were a lack of time (to manage the accounts and create new content on a regular basis); and failure to see the return on investment from the dollars put in.
It’s true that it’s difficult to measure the value of your efforts on social media, just as it is infinitely difficult to measure trust or goodwill in your organisation: But is that a worthy reason to avoid it completely?
In my opinion, no. Revenue generation is one aspect, but not the single most important reason for using social media. Its primary business value is to deepen relationships with your customers building community, attract new clients and to help you “own your space” so you can get known as the expert brand in your field.
Making the most of time and money
Matt Grant is a one man band in his fitness business, and like most business owners has a to-do list longer then most days can handle. So he’s wise with the investment of his time and cash.
Here is a snapshot of how he focused his efforts to get the best return on his investment through social media:
1. Telling the story with video
Grant believed in his product, and yet was struggling to get the message out. “My Facebook posts with images weren’t bringing in the registrations or reaching enough people,” he says. “Through investing in a couple of high quality videos, it really made this program stand out, and importantly got people signing up.”
Not only that, it told the Winter Warrior story. The camaraderie of the tribe as they sweat it out together, suggests a welcoming and encouraging place to not just train, but to belong.
Grant had to overcome his natural aversion to turn the camera on himself, to be disciplined and pull out the camera to capture the crew, behind-the-scenes actions or piece to camera stuff narrating the journey as they go. Mobile phones were used for the candid, live action work.
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What you can do: How can you incorporate video in telling your brand story? Could you give a tour of your office and show the people or processes behind your brand? Could you show customers experiencing your product? Could you record an interview with a client? Videos give an edge to the social content, and can attract greater likes and shares then photos or posts. A good tip is to add captions to your videos, so users can watch them without sound.
2. Focus on one social platform
The main game was to focus on Facebook.
It’s where his crew gather, and where his future clients hang out.
While he posted a few Instagram stories, he saved time by zoning his energies in 1 direction.
Grant also uses a Facebook Group to gather his “warriors” and regularly jumps on to ask them questions, give encouraging videos and training updates.
“Seeing as the group is private, members are able to share more personal things about themselves and their feelings, which brings the community even closer together,” said Matt. “This has really reinforced the ‘tribe’ culture. We cheer each other on, and it helps to keep everyone going to the end.”
What you can do: Focus your efforts on one social media platform will help save time and energy. Yet the decision of which one, should be made depending on where your audience gathers. Given Matt’s tribe are building up their personal life – it makes sense that their engagement is on a social platform they use personally, like Facebook. If your business is working with professionals, it may have a more natural fit in LinkedIn. I use a scheduling tool, so it’s not much more effort for me to post on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Have you tried a scheduling tool before? (check out a previous blog post on scheduling content to save time). It can help you to easily post your content to multiple platforms at the same time.
3. Extend the experience from real world to social and back
The brands that really stand out on social media will extend a brilliant experience from real life into the social world, and then back again.
The effect of social media then, becomes an amplifier to let more people know about the great experience. And the cycle continues.
What made this campaign remarkable, was Grant’s creative out of the box ideas that he weaved through the program that had that amplification effect through social media.
From an impressive promotional video packed with drone footage, slow motion and beautiful light of a real-life training session — attracting over 5,000 views (enough to persuade the most couch bound winter warmer to consider hauling their butt to training). Through to fun left-field ideas, like arranging a band to play “Eye of the Tiger” while the bootcampers “push-upped and pumped” through their circuit rounds on the grass. Or even a special guest trainer, Chad Mackay, who worked one on one with boot campers; while the experience was shared online with another 1000+ viewers.
What you can do: Do you have raving fans for your product or service? How could you create an experience that people want to talk and share about?
Don’t miss your moment
“Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait to long, you miss them.” – William Arthur Ward
Businesses not spending on social media could be missing opportunities, Sensi spokesperson Rob Tolliday believes: “There is a real opportunity for businesses to capture their customer’s attention on social, as we have seen the consumer response become more receptive towards engaging with advertising. The survey found 56% of consumers now pay attention to ads on social media.”
Even aside from advertising, there’s real value from this good old fashioned content marketing, like Grant has been doing. It takes creativity, upfront work and systems to make it sustainable. And yet as his sold out Winter Warrior program can attest – it’s not easy, but the winner will take all in the end.
Kirryn Zerna is a speaker, writer and consultant who helps brands create remarkable brand communications that will last through changing times.
Follow Kirryn Zerna on @kirrynzerna or contact her on [email protected]