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social media

not taking advantage of the greatest shifts of our generation? How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?” He was, of course, referencing the vast momentum behind social media, and certainly many gyms are now starting to explore this arena, with Facebook often chosen as the entry point. But as Simon Bolton pointed out in his recent feature (see HCM June 12, p62), social media can be a double-edged sword – it has to be done correctly, otherwise it can be detrimental to your brand. Having worked in the arena of member

communications for the last decade, we at Retention Management have therefore spent the last year asking: “What do we really know about Facebook from a health club operator’s perspective?” Our conclusions are as follows....

IT DOES COST MONEY… Many clubs are fooled by the fact that it costs nothing to open a social media account, failing to consider the expenses of running that account: staff costs, in terms of time and money, to both start and maintain the campaign. Many clubs go on to employ community managers to answer customer queries and maintain a spam-free environment. Should you


ne of the world’s greatest marketers, Seth Godin, famously asked: “How can you squander even one more day


choose to outsource your social media campaign, do you outsource all of it or a part of it – and what will be the ongoing costs involved in doing so? And if your campaign proves highly successful, how will you fi nd the investment to keep the ball rolling? More in-depth tools for social media, such as tracking, attract a cost that will escalate as your campaign gathers momentum. You must also continually provide

relevant and interesting content: it’s not an overstatement to say that the three most important elements in e-comms are content, content and content (see also HCM March 12, p48). Indeed, in a recent survey by, the top three reasons given for following a Facebook fan page were: special offers or deals (36.9 per cent); being a current customer (32.9 per cent); and to receive interesting or entertaining content (18.2 per cent). A huge myth surrounding social media is that ‘if you build it, they will

Case Study 1: TOPNOTCH

Having worked with Retention Management for three years, reducing attrition by over 6 per cent annually across its estate, UK operator Topnotch then turned to the supplier to review its social media delivery. Topnotch’s numerous Facebook sites

across its estate were disjointed, with varying levels of Facebook management aptitude in evidence, and with different clubs adopting different approaches. Retention Management therefore designed a uniform look for all the clubs’ pages, with tabs providing website

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links for classes, guest passes and personal training. Email communications were synergised with all Facebook and web pages – proven to enhance the overall impact of social media by allowing members to easily jump to content of interest to them.

Topnotch: Regular content updates

come’. If you want followers, you must also add your own advertising to the mix, at a minimum adding ‘follow’ buttons to your e-comms channels and using email advertising.

… BUT THERE CAN BE AN ROI On the upside, major brands that have been using Facebook for more than two years are reporting that fans do indeed spend more and are also more likely to stay using that brand. McDonalds, Coca- Cola, Starbucks, Nokia and Nike all report that the average annual spend by a Facebook fan is more than double that of a non-Facebook fan. Recent research by Syncapse also

reported that a Facebook fan is 28 per cent more likely than a non-fan to continue to use a product or service, and also 41 per cent more likely to recommend a service or product to family and friends. As an industry fi ghting to expand its

market penetration and drive retention, these stats offer the fi tness industry the most tempting hook – fans/followers, it seems, will use us for longer and recommend us more. And yet in spite of this data, relatively few clubs have truly embraced social media to date – and many of those that have are still forming conclusions as to what their pages are actually achieving. We take a look at a selection of case studies from across the fi tness industry – companies that have made a success of social media.

Clubs have since seen a marked

increase in traffi c, and the number of likes/followers has grown. One site had taken a year to gain 100 followers on Facebook; this grew to over 400 after just two months of working with Retention Management. “The content posted by Retention Management on our Facebook pages every week is relevant to our members – and, crucially, educational. The quality of the content we deliver has been vital to our recent social media success,” says Steve Bradley, director at Topnotch. “Secondly, the content is regularly

refreshed. At the moment, we simply don’t have time to consistently monitor walls and post content ourselves.”

july 2012 © cybertrek 2012

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