• Social Media 101 For Personal Trainers: How to Grow Your Business Online

    14th April 2021


    Follow these social media tips to boost your followers, build a community and increase your sales in your personal training business.


    With 4.2 billion social media users worldwide spending 2.5 hours on social channels every day, it’s a no-brainer to take advantage of social media marketing to grow your personal training business online and beyond.


    Know your audience


    Get to know your audience inside out. Think of your ‘audience’ as your ideal client.


    Get specific with who they are. Get inside their heads. Are they men or women? How old are they? How much do they earn? How much are they willing to spend on improving their health and fitness? What are their goals and values? Their challenges and pain points? Where do they get their information from? What brands do they like? Where do they shop? Are they on social media? Where and at what times?


    Whatever it is, get as specific as possible, and create a customer avatar or buyer persona (There’s lots of free templates online.) What do they do on the weekends? When do they workout? What’s their favourite way to relax? What’s their lifestyle like? How do they think?


    All of these nitty-gritty details will help you to shape your content to appeal to your target market on your social media profiles. Finally, give your customer avatar a name, and have them in mind whenever you’re tackling your social media strategy.


    Choose the right social media platforms


    Now you know your audience, you should know where they hang out online. With so many social media platforms out there, how do you know which one is right for you? Answer: Go where your audience is.


    Trying to tap into every social media platform out there will do more harm than good. It’s better to have one or two strong social media profiles and engaged audiences than five or six half-hearted ones.


    Have a plan: set goals, research the competition, do a social media audit


    Set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goals. That means instead of a goal to ‘attract new clients’, your goal could be to ‘attain three new clients by the end of the month.’


    Research what your competition is doing and take inspiration. What makes their content successful? Is there a gap you could take advantage of?


    Take an audit of your existing social media profiles. What’s working? What could be better? Are your branding and message clear? Your bio and highlights are great places to start.


    Promote your unique selling point (USP)


    What makes you different? What makes you stand out in your industry? It could be anything from your tone of voice to the specific training you provide or the people you help.


    Are your transformations what make you stand out? Is it your bubbly personality? Your technique-led approach to fitness? Maybe you’re the master at bootcamps, boxing, rehabilitation after injury, gymnastics, or ideal for supporting athletes because of a previous career or training?


    Take PT, James Smith, for example. His no-BS, myth-busting approach is what makes him unique and memorable.


    What will you become known for? What are you known for already? How can you ramp it up to promote this to your audience? Maybe you can put it in your bio, start a regular post each week, or add a section to your highlights that focuses on this aspect of your business.


    Use content pillars and a variety of posts


    It’s good practice to have 3 to 5 content pillars – these are topics or categories you always cover so your audience knows what to expect when they come to you. It helps to drive your USP, solidify brand identity and makes planning your content much simpler.


    For example, as a personal trainer, your social media content pillars could be home workouts, technique advice, and fitness industry myth-busting. Or, they could be healthy meal ideas, stretch sequences and funny gifs and memes.


    Videos receive twice the engagement as photo posts on Instagram (according to a Hubspot and Mention study). Use a variety of posts (video, photo, carousel posts, Reels, Lives, IGTV) covering your content pillars to appeal to different sectors of your audience.


    Create savable, shareable content


    Social media algorithms work by rewarding valuable content and creators by showing their posts to more users. Valuable content is ‘scored’ on engagement rates.


    ‘Saved’ and ‘shared’ content is worth more than ‘liked’ content. Just think how easy it is to dish out a ‘like’. We do it all the time. But if a user takes the time to comment genuinely, engage in conversation, or shares or saves a post, this is a sure sign (to the algorithm) that the content is especially valuable.


    Be consistent


    Creating unique, relevant content for your audience consistently helps your audience (and potential clients) to get to know you, like you and trust you. 


    You could even create a regular feature post each week or month. Some consistent social media post ideas for personal trainers are:


    • Tip Tuesday: Share a useful health, fitness or wellness tip with your followers.

    • Workout Wednesday: Provide your followers with a free pre-recorded, Live or Reels workout. Over the lockdown period, some of the biggest fitness influencers turned their daily free live workouts on social media into private paid monthly subscriptions. Just check out Ciara London, Courtney Black, XTinaoKenla, and Joe Wicks.

    • Form Friday: Where you give a tutorial on the correct form for a particular exercise.


    While the content of the post matters much more than the visuals, some consistent brand identity through design, colours and fonts can go a long way. Always consider clarity, and make sure it’s readable on a mobile phone screen (where 83% of digital users access social media, according to Smart Insights.) Canva is a free, easy-to-use design tool for creating some fail-safe social media templates.


    Collaborate with others


    Using hashtags and tagging other users, brands and influencers can also help you to get noticed by brands and collaborators who might want to work with you. Collaboration can diversify your thinking and approach, and improve the reach of your content to whole new audiences.




    According to Later, “a post with at least one Instagram hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag.” Using hashtags on platforms like Instagram, Twitter and TikTok can increase your chance of getting found by more people online.


    When utilising hashtags, don’t use the ‘top’ generic hashtags with the most amount of posts, e.g. #workout – you don’t want to be competing with 179 million other posts (as of April 2021). Instead, try more niche hashtags like #beginnersyoga (122k) or #lowimpactworkout (65.3k) or #workoutmode (362k).


    Use a range of hashtags to tap into different audiences:


    1. Include what the actual post covers (#kettlebellworkoutideas)

    2. Location details IF your audience are local (#birminghamlife)

    3. Common sayings, phrases or community hashtags (#FitFam)

    4. Daily, trend-led or seasonal hashtags (#humpdayworkout)

    5. Brand names and communities (#gymshark66)


    Creating your own branded or campaign hashtag can encourage user-generated content to increase visibility, credibility and social proof of your new product or brand, e.g. Lululemon’s #thesweatlife


    Tip: On Instagram, you can use 30 hashtags on grid posts, and 10 on Stories.


    Community engagement


    Build your community online to attract new clients and increase engagement rates. This means engaging genuinely (through comments, tags and mentions, DMs and Story interactions) consistently and building relationships in the same way you build them in real life.


    Top tips:

    • Always reply to comments and tags.

    • Keep it professional, not creepy! You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger in the street and shout, “BUY MY SUMMER BODY PLAN FOR £9.99!” so don’t do it online either.

    • Spend at least thirty minutes per day replying to comments and DMs and interacting with potential clients and collaborators.


    Focus on engagement, not followers


    Are you wondering, “How do I gain more followers on social media?”


    Growing on Instagram is harder than ever with paid advertising and brands dominating the space, but with consistent community building and valuable content, it is possible.


    Rather than focusing on followers, you should focus on increasing your engagement (through receiving genuine likes, comments, shares, saves, story interactions and DMs).


    High engagement rates = algorithm “rewards” you for good content = you get shown on more people’s feeds = you gain more followers.


    FOLLOWERS DO NOT EQUAL SALES, CLIENTS OR SIGN-UPS. Followers and likes are vanity metrics.


    Gaining followers for the sake of it won’t increase your sales. This is why followers should never be bought and why follow/engagement ‘groups’ and ‘pods’ aren’t effective. If they’re not your ideal client, or they’re not engaging, they could affect your engagement rates negatively.


    Use call-to-actions (CTAs)


    Tell your audience what to do next with a strong action word. This shouldn’t always be sales-led to your product or service. It should be about engagement and getting them to interact with you further. You could use, “Click the link in my bio for a free workout.”


    Batch your content creation process


    Planning all of your posts for the month or week ahead in one go is 'batch' or 'bulk'-creating. Using one or two days a month to plan all of your social media content, blogs, newsletters, etc. can focus your creative energy and ensure your content remains cohesive. No more anxiety-fuelled panic-posting!


    You can still jump on social media each day to spend time engaging with your community but it takes away the pressure of thinking of a post each day.


    Later and Hootsuite are effective social media schedulers to help with this, while Planoly and Unum can help you visually plan your feed before you post.


    Content ideas


    If you’re stuck on content ideas, take it back to your audience, and consider your goals. 


    • What does your audience need help with?

    • What are your most commonly asked questions?

    • Overcome barriers to potential clients signing up with you.

    • Do some myth-busting.

    • Teach them something they don’t know.

    • Use your testimonials to inject the WOW-factor, showing them real results (not just telling them).

    • Post free workouts.

    • Teach correct form and technique.

    • Tap into trends.


    Post when your audience is online


    What time should you post? You want to post when your audience is online; catch them when they’re scrolling. Consider their lifestyle. If they work weekends, are they likely to be on their phone? Do they do the school run? Check your social media reporting and analytics for insights too.


    Measure your progress


    Finally, work out what’s working and what isn’t. Social media is often a game of trial and error. What works for the PT down the road might not work for you.


    Which posts do better than others and why? Is it the time you posted? The type of content it was? Do more of what’s working well, and less of what isn’t.


    Once you get to know your audience better (and you will if you’re engaging and tracking progress regularly), the content ideas will come to you.


    Be patient


    It takes time to build an audience, but rest assured if you consistently create unique, valuable content for your audience and build your community with a solid social media strategy behind you, you’ll have a loyal audience online that will convert into paid clients.


    Stay up to date with trends and features


    Social media is constantly changing. New features and apps are released daily and so it’s handy to keep up with all the latest in the industry by checking in on news and trends sites, signing up to newsletters and following your favourite social media creators online.


    Outsource it


    Social media is a job in and of itself, which is why it’s sometimes a good idea to outsource the work so you can focus on the bits of your business that light you up. If you need help thinking of content ideas, writing captions and finding hashtags, it might be time to hire a copywriter.


    How will you implement these tips into your marketing strategy for social media success in your personal training business?


    Sophie Hipgrave

    Instagram: @tweakcopywriting


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