What if there was a way to establish yourself as an expert in your professional fitness field by simply talking about your life? What if this same habit instantly increased the number of hits and search engine rankings of your personal training website, while at the same time attracting clientele and customers in your local community? Furthermore, what if this business and marketing strategy was free?
If you think this sounds like a fantastic deal, then you’re most likely a candidate for launching a social networking campaign. A social networking website is designed to create an online community of individuals who share similar interests and activities and provides a way for those individuals to interact with one another via messaging, video, audio, email or any other online communication media. Popular social networking sites with which you’re most likely familiar include MySpace and Facebook.
So how can social networking help your business and marketing? Imagine that you walked into your local community center and there, gathered into a large room as a captive audience seated at tables, were thousands of fitness enthusiasts waiting to hear your latest story, newest exercise, healthy meal plan, or helpful tidbit. If you play your cards correctly, you’d be the most popular personal trainer in town, with hundreds of clients signing up to hear more of your wisdom! This is the power of utilizing the internet for social networking. The large room is the internet, and the captive audience is the millions of users on their computers searching for fitness advice and exercise experts. Together, they represent the online community or group on any specific member site, forum, discussion group or email list.
When you create your own account on a social site, you will be given the opportunity to customize your profile. Not only can you add professional information about yourself such as certifications and work history, but you can also include exercise photos and videos or links to your website. Most of the sites allow you to search your existing e-mail address book for contacts who might already be part of the social network, thus providing an instant platform to begin establishing friends and contacts. When users find your profile via a search engine or recommendation, they can subscribe to your articles or videos, and choose to become connected to your page.
Let’s take a look at some of the more popular social networking sites, and how you can use them to enhance your personal training business:
Twitter.com. We’ll start small. Twitter is almost like a “mini-blog” social networking site. Each of your posts is limited to 140 characters, and can easily be viewed by a PDA or cell phone. Individuals can sign up to “follow” your posts, which means that anytime you create a message, your followers can instantly be alerted. With as little as 60 seconds per day, you can post a nutrition tip, featured exercise or link to your personal training website and gradually build a solid reputation as a fitness expert.
Linkedin.com. Linkedin is considered to be social networking for business. By uploading your cover letter, resume, profile, picture, work history, testimonials and any other pertinent career information, you can establish a network in the online business community and create business relationships in the fitness field. Think of this as achieving a similar effect as joining your local Chamber of Commerce – it allows you to stand out as a certified and qualified professional in your field. Additionally, anytime you create a page in a social networking site such as this and include a link to your personal training business webpage, you increase your ranking in search engines. This is because one component of search engine optimization is legitimate outside links to your website.
MySpace or Facebook. Both of these websites would be considered more personal than professional, but they both have the advantage of a very high number of active users. Once you’ve established a group of “friends” or individuals to whom you are linked, you are in a perfect situation to launch a “viral video” marketing campaign where you upload your latest exercise video and share it with as many of your friends as possible. Using this method, you can find that your video may saturate thousands and even millions of other MySpace or Facebook user pages, providing you with links, popularity and “clickbacks” to your business website. You can do the same type of marketing with fitness articles, nutrition tips or exercise photos and audio clips.
In addition to the popular social networking websites mentioned above, there are also fitness specific sites. On these sites, people visit with the sole purpose of communicating about health and exercise, searching for the latest fitness news, tips and articles and finding experts to address their health concerns. Let’s look at a few of these niche sites.
iSweat.com. Consider this website “Twitter for fitness.” In addition to posting 140 character mini-messages on exercises, workouts and nutrition, you can also join groups that are focused on different aspects of fitness such as triathlon, mixed martial arts or fat loss. The individuals on iSweat are guaranteed to be passionate about fitness and make great business contacts or potential clients. You can even link your iSweat account with your Twitter account so that you’re not having to post twice.
Bodyspace.com. Hosted by the popular megasite bodybuilding.com, this site tends to be more focused on aesthetic fitness and allows users to create a profile, upload photos and even start a BodyBlog. Like most social networking sites, users can share workout feedback, track progress and communicate about goals, diets and supplements. This site would be perfect for a personal trainer interested in focusing on a bodybuilding specific fitness business.
Fitizens.com and Fitfiend.com. The attractive aspect of both these websites is that Fitizens allows you to set up your profile as either a “Fitness Expert” or “Fitness Enthusiast,” while Fitfiend allows you to be a “Fitpro” or “Fitfiend.” This automatically provides a venue for fitness professionals to connect with individuals who are specifically seeking out fitness advice. You can upload your latest articles, videos or favorite links and attract a community of fans who follow and comment on your posts. Perhaps most importantly, these sites allow you to delineate your geographical location, thus making local clients more likely to find your services.
So won’t it be a hassle to track all your different pages if you’ve launched a profile on each of these separate social networking websites? Not necessarily. One of my favorite online tools is located at www.pageonce.com, which is a site that allows you to track all your social networking, finance, travel and other regularly visited websites from a single location. Another useful tool is located at www.tubemogul.com, where you can submit your exercise videos to multiple social networking accounts with a single click. Finally, mobile applications can allow networking from a phone and include Brightkite for the iPhone (brightkite.com) or Mig33 for any phone able to surf the internet (migg33.com)
There are millions of Internet users, and the world wide web isn’t going away anytime soon. People are growing more accustomed to shopping, communicating and establishing business relationships over the Internet, and the fitness business is no exception. Furthermore, this form of marketing is free and doesn’t take much time. If you’re serious about increasing your business, you need to be serious about networking, and online social networking is an easy and effective way to begin. See you on Twitter!