Let the stats tell the story…
Facebook currently has 1.26 billion users (Smith, Oct 2013), Twitter has 500 million users (Smith, Oct 2013), YouTube has 1 billion users (Smith, Sept 2013), and the 3-year-old ‘baby’ of social media, Instagram, has 150 million users (Smith, Sept 2013).
With this supporting data, it’s commonplace to see that the majority of the world now communicates, connects, interacts, learns, and participates in regular social media activity – which creates a mysterious question left to be answered about human behavior: Why
do people use social media?
These interesting behaviors, when analyzed and understood, convey to a fitness professional the importance of developing a strategic plan to renew existing client relationships and develop future ones using social media.
- Understand the reasons why people are using social media and how it maps to human needs for social psychological development.
- Gain an understanding of how a fitness professional can use social media and behavioral psychology to market to existing and new clients.
- Learn how to implement a strategy for client prospecting using social media.
The Social Media Breakdown
When navigating the vast array of portals in which a human being can connect to the world through social media, it is without question that there are hundreds if not thousands of ways to interact. Starting with the most popular and the climbing platforms that follow, the usage numbers allow one to get a glimpse of the social media behaviors that take place every single day.
Facebook, although not the first of its kind in the social media world, created a breakthrough in the way one connects with people. There are 699 million daily active Facebook users, who host an average of 36 posts per month and collectively spend 8.3 hours per month browsing its pages. The average visit lasts 20 minutes and 76% of the 1.26 billion registered users log in at least once per day (Smith, Oct 2013).
Facebook’s numbers demonstrate the power that social media has in its ability to attract people from all over the world to share their own personal stories, read about others, while spending as much time surfing the endless line up of connection opportunities as one should dedicate to exercise per day.
YouTube squashes television programs with its commanding presence in the video world. There are 6 billion hours of video watched on YouTube per month, equating to 4 billion views per day (1 billion of which are on a mobile device), all while a staggering 100 hours of video is being uploaded per minute! Keeping up with its powerful punch, for every two people that log on to the Internet at least one of them is on YouTube (Smith, Sept. 2013).
This social media platform showcases the power of communication by any one person’s visual interpretation of life and events through recorded video. Hosting over 1 billion users, YouTube numbers show just how mighty this platform is in connecting and communicating messages across the world.
Twitter started on March 21, 2006, yet still as strong in its ability to reach the masses and deliver messages across the world through tweets. To date there have been 300 billion tweets sent with an average of 500 million tweets out-going per day. In its miraculous way to get people to communicate in fewer than 140 characters, users are spending 170 minutes per month scanning through the feed and connecting to other tweeters (Smith, Oct 2013).
Nowadays, one can’t watch a television program without a designated hashtag (#) designed to start a conversation via Twitter with other fellow watchers around topics within the show. The genius of the hashtag becomes synonymous in its ability to provide a "search engine" for a particular topic exclusively to the Twitter world, making it appear to be an elite group that only those who are members can be a part of the conversation.
Over 10 million apps have been created to function with Facebook (Smith, Oct 2013) and Instragram was one of its kind designed to allow users to share their life in photos through various unique filters. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but with Instagram it's worth way more. The app purchased by Facebook for 715 million dollars holds over 16 billion photos, with an average of 40 million photos posted daily. Instagram outranks Twitter in average time spent by a user per month at 257 minutes, showing just how captivating this app has become (Smith, Sept 2013).
When Instagram launched in October of 2010 it quickly grew to 13 employees working for the company. Shortly after its purchase by Facebook, it joined the ranks with the 4,619 employees already working effortlessly to match the social media behaviors of the world. With its increased workforce, Instagram recently added video capabilities, share features across multiple platforms, and tagging properties; as a result, Instagram created a collision of social media life.
Why Are People Using Social Media?
With the supporting trends to understand why fitness professionals should become a part of such a market, it is paramount to take a deeper look at the reasons these behaviors are happening in the first place.
Social media allows people to connect- and reconnect- sometimes over long distances. It offers opportunities for self-expression that may not always be possible offline, provides opportunities for learning and information sharing that are unprecedented, and supports users’ needs to control their online experiences (Hoffman, 2012).
In a recent study, Hoffman and Novak discovered that what attracts people to use social media is a broad range of goals. Specifically, four higher order goals: connect, create, consume, and control. Social media enables and facilitates interactions that connect people. These social media conversations occur through web- or mobile-based applications that people use to create (e.g., post, upload, blog) and consume (e.g., read, watch, listen to) content. Finally, social media applications give individuals a greater ability to manage their reputations and control the applications (e.g., page layout, tagging, rating). The “4Cs” capabilities of social media undoubtedly explain in part why so many people spend so much of their time using social media and why social media are so popular (Hoffman, 2012).
How Social Media Connects to Human Behavior
Human behavior can be motivated by many things; but the underlying reasons as to why one would be motivated to continue behaviors repetitively are supported by the Self Determination Theory (SDT). The work of Deci & Ryan around Self-Determination Theory (SDT) propositions that when conditions with autonomy, competence, and relatedness support the activity or task at hand; motivation, enhanced performance, creativity, and persistence thrive (Deci, 1985).
In the world of social media, it appears that people are choosing over and over again to spend a great deal of time engaging in online activity where they are driven to connect, create, consume, and control their virtual world. The unique design of social media platforms allow users to experience autonomy through their direct control of what items they consume, how long they consume them, and whether or not they should share that with other users to consume (Hoffman, 2012). Relatedness occurs simply through the ability to connect with others who share similar likes and interests, feeding into our human psychological need to feel as though we are loved and belong. Competence comes when our actions through social media are affirmed. This can come by way of a like, a share, a retweet, and even a comment. This instills the belief that one’s participation in social media is effective (SDT org., 2013).
When these behaviors are self-governed (autonomous), connect to a greater network of people (relatedness), and have an impact on one’s circle of connections (competence), then the undying growth of social media has unfolded.
Communicating within the Virtual World
People will adopt new behaviors or ideas if they feel that something of value is exchanged between him/her and the social marketer. Thus, one of the goals of a social marketer should be to meet consumer needs and wants (Meischeke, 2012).
Understanding that human beings are participating in social media to meet the basic psychological needs to thrive and develop is key in understanding the needs of the consumer. While discovering the wants of the consumer will come by way of engaging the audience.
It is common knowledge that businesses engage in market relations with the aim of creating an opportunity for transaction. Although businesses exist to create value, attract a market who wants the value, and engage the market in transaction, this can all go awry if it doesn’t tackle the key wants and needs of the consumer.
The once predictable "push marketing" is no longer acceptable as many businesses are reverting to "pull marketing" via relevant and relative conversations (Deragon, 2009). It is through these conversations that businesses form relationships leading to relatedness amongst followers and ultimately driving the bottom line.
If a business is to engage the audience, it begins with communication. Communication in the social media world is about reach and relational dynamics between people. Social media provides the means to effectively communicate with the market; however, communicating in human terms, rather than institutional terms, is where the relationships grow (Deragon, 2009).
Interacting with the social media world can seem overwhelming and create an uncertainty of which road to take. The key to creating effective strategies for communicating with the audience is to recognize that all interactions feed into two purposes:
- Primacy Effect
- Building the “Emotional Brand"
First Impressions Are Everything
The Primacy Effect is characterized by a tendency on the part of an observer to be more influenced by items and facts that are presented earlier than others. First impressions are more likely to carry weight that any evidence to the contrary that is presented later (Psych Dictionary, 2013).
Knowing that the first encounter with a brand is pivotal in creating and developing further beliefs and feelings around a brand can help to steer fitness businesses and professionals to an appropriate philosophy in social media posting. Knowing that the opportunity for new connections arises with every post, each post should be viewed as a "first impression" opportunity. These subsequent posts will then build on the quality post that grasped the followers attention the first time around.
When a fitness professional consistently posts information via social media that gives a positive impression; while considering human wants for using social media (the “4Cs”-connect, create, consume, control) and effectively mapping to their needs (autonomy, relatedness, and competence); the purpose and intention of social media can be found in the relationships to come.
The Emotional Brand (AKA- The Emotional Brain)
An emotion is usually transient and arises in response to the thoughts, activities, and social situations of the day. Emotions are unconscious physical reactions to threat or opportunity (Carter, 2009).
As one participates in social media activity, subconscious emotions outpour by way of physical reactions expressed through a click of a finger for a like, a retweet, a share, or even a comment. These are the actions of social media that show the emotional agreement or disagreement with the businesses beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, and thoughts. Once emotionally triggered, an audience subconsciously begins to build their ideals around the brand and therefore relates future interactions to what the brand represents.
Positive emotional responses elicited by a business’s posts create a link to the pleasure centers of the brain, which are influenced by the "reward center" (Carter, 2009). This moment of satisfaction leaves the audience enthralled to stay tuned for more to come.
A Strategy for Prospecting on Social Media
Most fitness professionals have strategies in place to attract, communicate, and interact with existing or potential clients. These same strategies can be used to direct social media interactions. As with any encounter with existing or potential clients there are several key points to make an appropriate connection that is lasting.
Within PTA Global’s Prospecting Solution, the 'Key Points to Connecting' with clients that allow fitness professionals to understand the person’s needs and wants are Empathy, Humility, and Listening. Using these three skills, one can gather all the information necessary to create a relationship of trust and communication.
The 'Critical Factors' are recognizing that all interactions must have an outcome in mind, while no encounter is insignificant because each encounter builds on the first impression.
When taking into consideration the 'Key Points to Connecting' and understanding the 'Critical Factors,' a three-step strategy comes into play: Engage, Service, and Follow-up. Since the interaction in the social media world is typically not taking place face-to-face, one can use these three steps to develop a game plan for interacting in the virtual world where each of the three components to prospecting map to a specific action.
Prospecting on Social Media
A fitness professional can Engage the audience by posting a photo, quote, statement, video, and/or link. The supporting information within the post will provide an experience for the audience; leaving them with an emotional reaction and giving them an impression on the value and credibility of the company. Those autonomous reactions will show up as a like, a positive or negative comment, a share, etc.
Once these reactions take place, relatedness and competence can be supported through the fitness professional’s interaction with the audience’s likes, comments, etc.
One can affirm the audience’s engagement through Service- acknowledgement, conversation, encouragement, and other ideas to support questions that may arise. Responses like these support competence in their reasoning for social media participation and develop relatedness.
In order to guarantee that the fitness professional/business has credibility and value, Follow-up is the key action that will create an interactive audience who is engaged in future conversations and posts. Incorporate posts that are relevant to the audience’s interest and implement the feedback and concerns from previous posts.
With this three-step process there are many interactive ways to engage the audience through a variety of posts, while steering the conversation just enough to build your brand and map to human psychological needs.
Translating time spent on social media into personal training revenue requires understanding the reasons why people participate in these online behaviors and how it maps to the neuropsychological needs of the human being. When considering the drives for human connection and how the vast world of social media meets those needs, it becomes paramount for the fitness professional to develop strategies to engage the online audience. With the key components in play, a fitness professional can develop an online presence that attracts like-minded consumers searching for the ability to create, connect, consume, and control their virtual world.
Cappuccio, R. (2008). PTA Global Online Certification: Client Orientation Modules 1-2. Retrieved from http://www.ptaglobal.com/
Carter, R. (2009). Emotions and feelings, The human brain book. (pp. 124-129) New York, New York: DK Publishing
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.
Deragon, J. (2009) Why use social media? Retrieved October 13, 2013, from http://www.relationship-economy.com/2009/10/why-use-social-media/
Hoffman, D. & Novak, T. (2012). Why Do People Use Social Media? Empirical Findings and a New Theoretical Framework for Social Media Goal Pursuit: National Science Foundation (Grant # IIS-1114828) UC Riverside
Meischeke, H. (2012). Social marketing theory. Retrieved October 13, 2013, from http://www.scribd.com/doc/2600124/Social-Marketing-Theory
Self Determination Theory Organization (2012). Perceived competence scales. Retrieved October 13, 2013, from http://selfdeterminationtheory.org/questionnaires/10-questionnaires/49
Smith, C. (2013, September 3). By the Numbers: A Gigantic List of Google Stats and Facts. Expandedramblings.com. Retrieved from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-a-gigantic-list-of-google-stats-and-facts/2/
Smith, C. (2013, September 8). By The Numbers: 12 Interesting Instagram Stats. Expandedramblings.com. Retrieved from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/important-instagram-stats/
Smith, C. (2013, October 6). By the Numbers: 51 Amazing Facebook Stats. Expandedramblings.com. Retrieved from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-17-amazing-facebook-stats/
Smith, C. (2013, October 3). By The Numbers: 44 Amazing Twitter Stats. Expandedramblings.com. Retrieved from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/march-2013-by-the-numbers-a-few-amazing-twitter-stats/
Smith, C. (2013, October 7). How Many People Use 275 of the Top Social Media, Apps & Services? Expandedramblings.com. Retrieved from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/social-media-user-stat-infographic/