How to use Facebook as a business tool

Facebook is a genius marketing tool for personal trainers and fitness businesses that allows you to build your brand, cement client loyalty and attract new clients. For starters, it’s important that you have a fan page (as opposed to a personal page) for your business. “This is a place where you can be an expert and show your credibility, and there’s no limit to how many people can join that page,” notes Richard Toutounji, CEO of Complete Online Marketing. Here are some top dos and don’ts for using Facebook as a business tool.

DON’T post off-topic
“Everything you put on your Facebook fan page has to relate to your business,” says Toutounji. “You can talk about fitness, running or exercise for example but you don’t want to talk about religion or politics because there’s a disconnect and people aren’t coming to your page to learn about that.” Keeping your posts consistent and on-brand will lead to more likes, shares and comments from your followers, which will in turn boost your natural or ‘organic’ SEO (basically your online visibility or ranking). As for how many posts you should do per day? Two to three is great, ideally timed for when your clientele are likely to be on social media (for instance, between 5-7pm for office workers).

DO get savvy about Facebook’s algorithm
Facebook’s mysterious algorithm refers to the complicated and ever-changing set of rules that controls what people see in their news feeds. “What’s happened is that now Facebook has gone public, they need to make money, and they do that through getting businesses to spend money,” notes Toutounji. Whereas in the past, your posts would be seen by many of your followers, now the reach is considerably less. “These days, it comes down to spending money if you want your posts to be seen more,” says Toutounji. Thankfully, you don’t have to invest much (think as little as $5 or $10 to get started), and as mentioned above, creating great, shareable content will also organically boost the visibility of your posts.

DON’T sell to people
“The rule to remember is that people don’t go on Facebook to be sold to, they are there to connect with family and friends and things that are engaging, so you’ve got to play the same game,” advises Toutounji. He suggests focusing on creating great content that’s educational and entertaining. You can still include the odd sales message directly promoting your business services, but stick to a ratio of four education or entertainment posts to one sales-related post. “I’d recommend running sales pieces as ads, with a free or a low-barrier offer and ideally directing people to a specific landing page, then you can target the ad at people in your local area,” notes Toutounji.

DO start Facebook groups
One clever way you can outsmart Facebook’s algorithm and get around having to pay to boost your posts is by starting a Facebook group. “You can invite all past, present and future clients into a closed group, meaning people have to request to join the group,” says Toutounji. “Then what happens is that every time someone posts in the group, all the people in that group will see a notification about the post, which is a really powerful thing.” It basically ensures all posts are included in that person’s feed, sidestepping the regular news feed algorithm. Keep the group sales-free—first and foremost it should be a community where members can chat about relevant information, although Toutounji says it’s fine to invite people to your events, for instance if you’re running a free bootcamp on the weekend.

DON’T get hung up about your numbers
“It’s not about the number of fans you have, it’s about the quality of fans,” says Toutounji. While having a huge following is great for branding and credibility, in reality most personal trainers are local businesses that work in a certain geographical area, so being engaged in your local community is much more valuable (and translates into more sales) than a large following of people around Australia or overseas. As for how to nurture your Facebook community, “Be social on social media,” urges Toutounji. “If someone comments on your photo, comment back, and if they write you a message, message them back.”

 Bill MooreFitness Australia is the peak health and fitness industry association, providing support services and guidance to almost 30,000 registered exercise professionals, fitness service providers and industry suppliers Australia-wide.

Bill Moore is the CEO of Fitness Australia. He has an extensive background in the fitness industry, commencing with the ownership of a strong independent fitness facility in the early 90’s and being involved in the foundation work and establishment of key principals that now underpin Fitness Australia. More recently Bill was responsible for the development and successful running of the Michelle Bridges Group of Companies. Bill has a high level of experience and expertise in business development, operations and brand development. Having been involved at all levels including as an instructor, personal trainer and owner of fitness businesses, his understanding and connection to the industry as a whole allows him to drive the evolution of Fitness Australia.