Do You Need a Large Social Media Following to Be a Successful Trainer?

By Kiera Carter​, Special FBA Contributor

Sponsored by Wix Fit

I speak to a lot of trainers who feel pressure to be everywhere and do everything. Everyone is strapped for time, and perhaps more importantly, low on energy.

Social media is the biggest example—or cause—of this problem. Trainers see other trainers with six-figure Instagram followings and think they need to build the same to be successful. So they hire professional photographers. They become one-person production crews. They spend hours writing clever captions.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of this. Social media is a highly effective marketing strategy. It helps you connect with clients, learn from your peers, and stay on top of fitness trends. But if you’re exhausted and burnt out, it may be time to look a little deeper at your goals and how social media helps, or doesn’t help, you meet them.

Think of it this way: If a client’s #1 goal was to build muscle, you’d develop a weight-training program, right? If another client wanted to run a marathon, you’d put together a marathon-training plan. You wouldn’t tell either of these clients to dedicate 90 percent of their energy to yoga, would you? Of course not. Yoga is amazing, but it’s not the #1 thing you’d do to hit either of those goals.

I think of social media the same way. It’s great! Just like yoga! But too many professionals are dedicating a large portion of their time to audience-building without considering what they want to get out of it. More followers isn’t a good enough answer. More followers…for what?

Building a following is important if you want to get sponsored by brands or become an online personal trainer with a global audience, both admirable goals. But if you want to recruit more members in your local gym, building a massive social media following may not be the best use of your time. (Read my interview with coach Jonathan Goodman for more on this topic.)

This doesn’t mean you should spend zero effort on social media. For example, targeted ads can help you meet new clients in your demographic, and you can use Wix’s AI to optimize these campaigns automatically. (More here)

A few more things to keep in mind if you’re reconsidering your relationship with social media:

Personalize your social media strategy

You can (and should) have social media accounts that represent your brand—with photos of your facility and captions that express your fitness philosophy. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you need a ton of followers. Write down what a successful social media strategy looks like for you and how it serves your larger business goals.

Encourage your clients to post on their own accounts

Client testimonials are king, and that’s true whether they’re expressed in person, in your fitness newsletter, on social media, or on Mars if we ever start training there. But since we’re talking about social media, that means you want your clients to post about their workouts on their own accounts. Read more here: 7 creative ways to get your clients to share their workouts on social media.

Optimize for engagement

An engaged audience is better than a large audience. Create a fitness challenge gym members can follow along with and ask them to post their progress using a branded hashtag. Note: You can build fitness challenges using Wix’s Online Programs app, and when clients complete a challenge, they receive a badge they can share on their accounts.

Set boundaries

Some people get a lot of joy out of connecting on social media. But if it feels like work to you, then treat it like work. Do you work on weekends? Do you work during dinner with your family? Do you work on vacation? If not, then set the same boundaries for social media, even if it means waiting to post that vacation pic until after vacation.

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Kiera is a certified personal trainer and the editor of Wix Fit. In a past life, she was the executive digital editor of Shape magazine and has held editorial positions at Women’s Health, Fitness, Prevention, and Men’s Health. She’s been reporting on health and fitness topics for over a decade. She lives, runs, boxes, and hikes in New York.

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