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Growing Your Fitness Brand with Instagram

Growing your fitness brands’s reach on Instagram (IG) won’t happen quickly. Creating a cult following and increasing engagement takes time and dedication, but as IG is one of the biggest social media platforms on the planet with 1 billion users, it is extremely worth the effort to launch an Instagram growth strategy.

Think of the hashtag #fitness. How many times do you think that hashtag has been posted on Instagram? 50 million? A 100 million? The actual number is over 331 million, a pretty compelling number. We can thank the social media influencers for that!

Fitness influencers are not doubt THE force to be reckoned with on IG. With their millions of cult-like followers and the hype they’ve encapsulated around fitness+wellness they have single handedly transformed Instagram into a paradise for effective fitness brand marketing while getting paid thousands of dollars for sponsored posts.

As I write there are incredible amounts of engagement happening between users and fitness brands on Instagram. According to locowise.com, 75% of users take an action, such as visiting a website, after looking at a business’ Instagram post or account.

There is a huge opportunity for fitness brands and health clubs to organically gain more following and recognition for their brand. Many gyms and fitness studios have already hopped on the Instagram bandwagon. However just because you are on IG, doesn’t mean people are jumping on your profile. With over a billion active users, it’s a seriously saturated platform, but with a well thought out strategy and consistency, you CAN grab the attention of your followers, grow your fitness brand and create social media advocates for your business.

What can you do to GROW and stay relevant on this super popular platform?

Step 0: Your Profile/Account

It all starts with your profile! Post a high-quality profile image that best represents you and your brand and thoughtfully fill out your account profile. Make sure that the description points out exactly what your business does, but remember, less is more! Keep it simple with well-crafted messaging that quickly hits who you are and what you do.

Step 1: Build a Strategy for Your Brand

Instagram is wide and varied and it’s very tempting to start posting like crazy. The days of posting a photo, sprinkling some hashtags and hoping for the best are long gone.

The key is to figure out and choose WHO you want to talk to. When growing your fitness brand reach on Instagram, you need to select a demographic to focus on first. This keeps your ultimate message clear and your audience tuned into that message. Otherwise, you will gain many followers, only to quickly loose them because they weren’t your target audience.

When choosing your demographic, envision who your brand speaks to on a deeper level and who your brand can help, guide or solve their problems.

Demographic Ideas to Think About:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Job
  • Personality
  • Fitness level
  • Goals
  • Interests

Fitness Needs:

  • Nutrition
  • Learning Healthy Habits
  • Lack of time
  • Uninspired
  • No Motivation
  • Fearful of going to the gym  (Gymtimidation)

Step 2. Conduct Instagram Research for Fitness Brands

Now that you know your target market, you can dive deeper into their Instagram world. Based on the list of difficulties your target audience might have, you can start looking at the top hashtags, profiles and posts which get the most engagement when you search for their internal or external problems. For example, if you are targeting young moms looking to lose weight, their main problem might be lack of time, in which case hashtags like; #fitnessmotivation, #healthydietideas, or #homeworkout might be terms you search for on Instagram.

On a higher level, you should search for the top hashtags and fitness influencers. See how they interact with their audiences and what they are posting. Chances are you will discover some inspiration or find some content niches that could help further boost your brand’s recognition.

Step 3. Plan your Instagram Posts…SERIOUSLY

Having a content strategy already in place will keep you accountable and ensure you are consistent with your Instagram posting and engagement. If you don’t put anything out then you won’t get anything back. CONSISTENCY IS KEY.

Just like a diary, your Instagram calendar will organize all of your creative ideas, allocate them to a certain day or time and ensure you don’t accidentally double post something.

Without a calendar, posting on Instagram can get out of hand and quickly start feeling like an unfocused mess. There are several good apps on the market which you can link up to your Instagram account that allow you to schedule posts ahead of time, but to keep it simple, calendar works just fine as long as long as you STICK TO THE PLAN.

Step 4. Make your Fitness Brand Discoverable

Here is where 99.9% of brands get stuck. Instagram’s algorithm wants to give its users relevant content from relevant sources. As a result, the intrusive, promotional business content gets shuffled to the back of people’s news feeds. Instagram’s purpose was never to allow business to advertise on their platform, however there are still ways you can put your content in front of users. The two golden words to remember are relevant and interesting, this is how you can give your club, studio or your own personal brand as a Fit Pro a broader reach.

Use #Hashtags Responsibly (no more than 15 per post)

Hashtags are the way Instagram categorizes your posts so people who search a certain tag will see your content. The more hashtags you use, the more your content will be spread around Instagram and the more people will interact with it, but there is a fine balance to be struck here.

If you aren’t posting anything of value and adding a billion popular hashtags that don’t relate to your content, you will get lost in the noise. Plus, posts like this can look dubious and spammy and you don’t want your brand to appear questionable. The best number of relevant tags to use is 15-30 with 15 being optimal. Placement is also key! Many brands will post their tags on the image description while others place the tags as a comment.

Use Locally Focused Hashtags

Making your fitness brand Insta-famous in Japan when your gym is in Idaho most likely won’t translate into much of a business impact for you. Therefore, use popular local hashtags. You can discover these by doing a simple google search of ‘popular Instagram hashtags for xx city’. This way, you can grow your presence on Instagram by making people in your area more aware of your fitness brand. This is a similar concept as how local SEO works for websites.

Leave Meaningful & Human Comments

When using top fitness hashtags, you should also search those hashtags and see what the top \ posts are in that category. Then go through and leave human comments to really engage and interact with the popular users of that hashtag. By commenting, not just writing a ‘Cool’, or ‘Awesome’ or leaving the infamous fire emoji, I mean comment something you actually think about that post or what I call a “Human Comment”. It can be humorous, motivational or informative, it just needs to be a real reaction. It will make your brand stand out and people will want to engage with you on the same level. If you push quality comments out you will get quality engagement back.

Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm tends to show the two most recent comments from verified accounts directly underneath the post’s caption in the feed. But the algorithm can change that depending on the user’s feed and their interests.

Pro tip: Switch your profile to a business profile if it isn’t already. You will then have access to business insights and ad targeting.

Take Advantage of Location Tags

To boost your brand’s searchability, you should be adding geolocation tags. People frequently check their local area, or areas around them on Instagram to get a bigger picture of what is happening around.

Step 5. Make your Brand Recognizable on Instagram

You can be everywhere on Instagram, but if your brand message isn’t clear or you don’t have consistency with your brand creative, then no one will remember you and steps 1-4 will be a scratch.

Post Consistently

To keep people interested in what your brand is doing on Instagram you need to keep showing up. By posting regularly, you can keep reminding Instagram users of your brand. The consistent exposure will also score you points with Instagram, who will give your profile greater reach, thus helping your gym or brand to gain more followers.

Stay Visually on Brand

Being consistent in your filtering scheme will also boost your recognizability on Instagram. Using the same set of filters and color schemes (one or two) for all of your content will help you create and maintain a clear visual identity on your Instagram profile. This makes your photos instantly recognizable on your followers’ feeds, increasing your gym’s brand awareness and aquiring more consistent likes.

Keep Your Message Clear

If your brand is about non-judgment and helping beginners step into the world of fitness, then your Instagram feed has to reflect that. This should be clear in your bio, your captions, stories, comments, photos and video content. By keeping an aligned branding voice people will figure out what your brand is about quickly and if it resonates, they will follow you and remain loyal. 

Step 6. Implement Unique Content Ideas to Grow your Fitness Brand

Inform and inspire your followers. Valuable fitness content will build trust between Instagram users and your fitness brand, this helps generate followers who will stick around for more of your brand wisdom. With every photo, story, or video you post you should be inviting Instagrammers to have their say, like, tag or follow you. Doing this will heighten your engagement and grow a loyal following in the long-term.

Instagram Stories for Fitness Brands

Instagram stories work very much like a Snapchat story would. Users can piece together a ‘content story’ through using photos, hashtags, location tags, mentions, polls, videos and much more. There is much more room to be creative with an Instagram story than with a static Instagram post. Instagram stories also only last for 24-hours before they are deleted, and they don’t have to compete for attention in a user’s newsfeed. Stories are viewed by tapping icons at the top of the screen. You can use hashtags with stories so take advantage of this as well when posting stories.

In a Nutshell…

Instagram can offer fitness brand owners a platform filled with audiences actively engagement in fitness and wellness. Implementing Instagram marketing for your brand can attract more local followers, create higher online engagement and more opportunities for industry collaborations and growth.

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