When searching the web for inspiration on how to use Instagram for fitness marketing, there are plenty of articles telling you who to follow—but there aren’t many resources when it comes to marketing best practices. We wanted to change that.
I’m sure most of you fitness professionals out there use Instagram as part of your marketing. And why not? It’s a free tool, and it’s a pretty low barrier to entry for your clients and followers. If your account is public, anyone can follow you with just a click of a button. Plus, there are countless ways you can organically, but quickly, grow your follower base, and even gain some new leads, if you are proving valuable content. So let’s dig in and discover some tips and best practices surrounding Instagram for fitness.
Here is our 15-Step Guide on Instagram Marketing for Fitness Professionals:
1. Fill out your profile!
First things first. If you need help with this, visit Instagram’s Help Center. You’ll want a detailed profile to let people know who you are, a profile photo, and a link to your website. How else are people going to discover that you provide online personal training?
2. Post high-quality photos
This is key. If you’re going to do ONE thing off of this list, make it this. If your feed is just a thrown-together mish-mash of blurry photos, screenshots, and quotes, it’s not going to look aesthetically pleasing to someone just landing on your feed. The more beautifully curated your photos are, the more people are going to want to follow you.
3. Find your style
Do some research first and follow some brands or fitness professionals that you would like to emulate. Some brands tend to choose one filter and stick with it throughout their entire feed. Some stick to a color scheme (maybe take your logo and website branding into account here), and some only post a certain kind of photo. Find what works for you and try to stick to a plan. Instagram Marketing for fitness can be valuable tool if used correctly. (The problem is, too many fitness professionals are not using it correctly.)
4. Find the best apps for editing
If you want some extra ‘zing’ to your photos, some pre-editing before you edit in Instagram goes a long way. Some of our favorite photo-editing apps here at Trainerize are Aviary, VSCO, Snapseed, and PicTapGo. But there are literally thousands to choose from–and most of them are free!
5. Post before and after photos
Before and after photos are your best form of marketing. They are proof that the clients you train are actually seeing progress with your personal coaching. Note: Always, always, always get permission from your client first before posting their photos.
BONUS TIP: Use the new slideshow/carousel feature to display your Before and After photos, so your audience swipes through your photos for more engagement. You could even include a quote or testimonial on one of the slides!
6. Use relevant hashtags
Hashtags are great; they help people discover your content. If you’re not sure which hashtags to use, investigate what your competitors or doing, or what other brands in the fitness space are using. While generic hashtags like #fitness and #personaltrainer are alright, specific hashtags are better–think #hiitworkout, or #miamipersonaltrainer. You can even come up with your own unique hashtag to share on all your posts, and encourage your clients to use it, too. Or use hashtags that are commonly used in your community. This can prove to be a great way to build your brand, and with the right kind of followers you’re looking for. For an exceptional example of this, check out Lululemon’s #thesweatlife hashtag on Instagram.
Also, if you don’t want your entire caption to be filled with hashtags, drop them in the comments section. A handy trick we use at Trainerize, is keeping a copy of our most commonly used hashtags in the notes section of our mobile phone. When the time comes to use them, we just copy and paste them into the photo comments, and edit as needed by adding or removing certain hashtags.
7. Tag people!
If you share a photo of a client, tag them–both in the photo and the caption. If you train influencers, share a photo (with their permission) and tag them! An influencer could be anyone from a celebrity, to the lady that owns the juice shop in your neighbourhood, to your local news anchor. If they have a large number of Instagram followers, it will help to have them featured on your feed. They might even re-share your photo to their followers!
8. Provide value to your followers
You might feel as if you have to start posting something all the time to achieve high engagement. That’s not necessarily the case. If you produce quality content and imagery that people want to consume, the followers will eventually come. (If you think “value” is just sharing gym selfies, then you’re not getting it yet.)
9. Create a schedule, but feel free to mix it up!
You can create a schedule of the different types of posts you would like to share, so you are not always posting the same thing. For example (you can edit this however you please, and you don’t have to post something every day):
- MONDAY: Share a motivational quote using the hashtag: #mondaymotivation.
- TUESDAY: A Before and After photo with a quick quote from one of your satisfied clients. (Make sure you get their permission!) Use the hashtag: #transformationtuesday
- WEDNESDAY: Post a quick workout video or photo of your typical day training clients in the gym to give people an inside look of what it’s like to train with you.
- THURSDAY: Provide a workout tip.
- SATURDAY: Share a healthy meal option (preferably one of your own meals from your meal plan!).
- SUNDAY: Re-share a great post from one of your clients, and celebrate their success.
Or, you create a schedule that includes several different types of posts and repeat it:
- Photo 1: Post a workout photo from the gym.
- Photo 2: Post a healthy meal.
- Photo 3: Share a before and after photo.
- Photo 4: Share a quick teaser workout video.
- Photo 5: Post a motivational quote.
- Photo 6: Share something personal about your day that your audience will resonate with (your first coffee of the day, a meeting with a friend, etc).
- and so on…
You don’t have to post something every day, but these are ideas you can steal from and customize to make your own. If you want to start scheduling your Instagram posts ahead of time, you can sign up for a 3rd-party app, like Hootsuite or Later.
10. Lay out your photos in advance
When people visit your profile, it should be visually appealing. Using an app like Later, or UNUM, helps you visualize what your next few photos will look like in your feed. This way, you avoid placing two very dark photos next to one another, or for example, two motivational quotes only three photos apart (they will stack on top of each other in the feed and look weird).
11. Curate Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories are a great way to keep your brand top of mind, as the story appears right at the top of the main feed! If your followers regularly engage with the photos in your feed, your story will appear near the beginning. It’s the best way to give your clients and other followers a sneak peek into your life as a trainer. So don’t just use it at the gym–share stories from the grocery store, of you working on their training plans, and share some personal stuff, too, like from your home life or while you’re on vacation. It makes your loyal followers relate to you as a person and feel like they are getting to know the real you. People like doing business with people they can relate to.
BONUS TIP: Highlight your key fitness services, show clients having fun and hitting goals, or promote what makes your business awesome by pinning your favorite stories to your profile. They’ll stay available for new visitors to see, and act just like instant marketing videos!
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12. Add a link to your bio
Instagram is one of the least link-friendly social media platforms out there, turning any links added to posts into flat, un-clickable strings of text. But there is one place where you can add a clickable link: your profile bio. To make the most of this precious real estate, use a link tree (kind of like a mini landing page with a list of links, accessed via your main bio link).
13. Host a contest
Partner up with a local business and offer your followers a cool prize for commenting, liking, sharing, or tagging friends on your posts. Or instead, make the prize a free trial of your personal training. You’d be surprised at how many new followers you will get out of this, and you’ll also end up with a bunch of new people that are interested in your training services! Check out this great read on growing your leads by using social media contests.
14. Connect Instagram to your website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
If you want more of your audience to follow you on Instagram, you can install a simple widget on your website displaying your Instagram photos. Once in a while, you can share your photos through Twitter or Facebook, too. This allows your followers on different platforms the ability to find and follow you on Instagram (the more followers the better!).
15. Switch to an Instagram Business Profile
While Instagram is a great place for individuals to share and view amazing visual content, it’s also become a great marketing platform for businesses. Because of this, Instagram has launched business profiles which offers you extra tools and features like profile analytics, which you can use to track and see all the activity happening on your profile. It also helps you gain insight into who your followers are, where they’re from, and other demographic information.
With Business Profile, you can do more marketing-focused things, like promoting posts to increase your profile’s reach and generate new leads. For example, you could promote a post about a new training program you’ve just created and actually target that “ad” to a specific type of Instagram user that you think are most likely to purchase your services.
You can also use your business profile and the data insights it provides to maximize your audience engagement. You can check post insights to analyze which content works best for your audience or to match your post schedule with daily and hourly activity patterns of your page visitors!
We hope this guide helps you step up your game—or get started—with your Instagram marketing for fitness. Just don’t forget to be authentic and let your personal and business values shine through!
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