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Entries in Bob Shoulders (2)


Communicate, don't sell, with social media

Christine Thalwitz, Bob Shoulders, Karen Jashinsky and Josh Gerber all weigh in on a timely question in the latest Best Practices: how to best use social media to a club's advantage.

Question: "How can I better use social media to my advantage so that we post better content and initiate good conversations rather than simply re-posting content from our existing website and e-mail marketing? The goal is to use social media as an outlet to communicate better with our members and get members more engaged in our brand."

A: The first thing you should realize when using social media platforms for your club is that you are NOT SELLING. Your goal should be to post content that is relevant to your business and shows that you care about your members and potential member’s health and well-being. 

Here are a few options that you can use to initiate some good conversation.

1. Use Video. Any fit tips from trainers or experts at your clubs, member testimonial, how-to-use equipment, group x classes and personal training classes. All of this can be done with an iPhone.      

2. Take photos of members in your clubs, staff, any new equipment or new renovations, create contests that encourage your members to upload photos of themselves, even better if they are wearing your attire, pretty much anything photo’s always create the most buzz.    

3. Ask questions and poll your members. What is your favorite workout? What are you goals for the next month? How are you enjoying the new group exercise schedules? Etc. 

4. Share relevant topics about the time of year or what is going on in the news. Tomorrow is daylights savings time make sure you turn your clocks ahead an hour, Who was your favorite Oscar winner from last night’s award ceremony, etc.       

5. Post information that is of interest If you eat ¼ pound cheese burger you need to take this class or do these exercise to burn those calories.

6. Post information about where you will be in the community. If you have people off site have them take pictures about where they are and what they are doing and tag your club in their posts. 

7. Put out corny jokes, funny sayings, recipes, motivational sayings/photos. 

When posting any content that I have mentioned above don’t be afraid to link to another website. If you only link to yours they will think you just want to sell them something. Use the 80-20 rule: 80% of what you post should be content that does not initiate the member or potential member to make a purchasing decision, 20% can be sales-based content. When posting photos and videos make sure your members sign release forms. 

Josh Gerber
Marketing Director
Brick Bodies Fitness Services, Inc.


A: High quality content is a form of currency. The more valuable your audience finds your exchange of information, the stronger your relationship becomes. Here are 10 quick tips for maximizing your social media efforts:

1. Begin with the end in mind. What are your company’s social media objectives? Understanding your “big picture” goals will help you determine the types of activities and content that will be most beneficial. Knowing how you can best measure their impact is an important part of your plan.

2. Mix it up. Content comes in many forms: educational articles, how-to videos, contests, fun photos, an opportunity to give feedback, or a friendly chat. It is not necessary (or even desirable) for you to create all your own content. Share items of interest from other credible sources, being sure to give proper credit and link to the original source.

3. Strike an emotional chord. Be a human being, not a faceless corporate entity. Respond to all feedback personally and promptly. Engage your audience with humor, inspirational messages and moving testimonials.

4. Make it short, sweet and easy to find. Catchy headlines, appealing visuals and strong keywords will increase the likelihood that your posts will capture attention. Optimize content for quick consumption and have a call to action that will encourage audience participation.

5. Be in the right place at the right time. Tailor content and delivery to each unique social media platform rather than saturating all your streams at once with a mass “copy and paste”. Think of ways your activities on each site can supplement, rather than simply repeat, the others.

6. Keep tabs on trending topics. Tracking relevant trends in our industry and beyond will help you create buzzworthy content and guide your participation on other channels so that you can amplify your reach.

7. Think “we” not “me”.  In addition to cultivating your own platforms, be active on other networks where members and prospects are likely to be. While you don’t want to dominate the discussion on someone else’s turf, be part of the community and further the conversation by commenting thoughtfully, asking questions and sharing useful information.

8. Capitalize on your current audience. Your existing followers are a great referral source. If you are providing value in your forums, they will share your content with others. Remember to recruit fans and followers offline, too. Place the familiar social media icons at the bottom of your club’s promotional and advertising materials to let people know where they can find you online.

9. One size does not fit all. Develop a strategy that makes sense for your company. While many best practices have emerged in the world of social media, there are few absolutes. Tools and trends continue to evolve, so stay abreast of the ever-changing landscape.

10. Stick with it. In many ways, social media is like exercise. Regular, varied activity over a sustained period of time will yield the best results!

Christine Thalwitz
Director of Communications & Research
ACAC Fitness & Wellness Centers

A. Members and potential members are constantly bombarded by information; most of it coming in the form of sales pitches in a very one dimensional platform. With the advent of Social Media, our members now have the opportunity to become part of the conversation. It is our task to create an open, transparent forum through which they can become a part of this collaborative consumerism. Whether it is Facebook posts, tweets or blogs, the content must be engaging enough to garner the attention of a comment, like or share

Tactically, the single best way to get your posts noticed is to upload images as part of your content. Pictures are far more likely to engage your fans than lengthy text, “Ask a Question” polls, news links or videos. Images are also less likely to be filtered by Facebook’s “Edgerank”. The content should ask for comments while being concise enough to retain your audience’s short attention span.

Your goal should be to engage your audience, not sell them something. By engaging them via likes, shares, comments and re-tweets, clubs are able to leverage the multiplier effect of social media. If your fan page has 500 fans and each of these fans has 200 friends, you have the ability to reach 100,000 potential members.

However, success in social media marketing and community creation is not simply a matter of utilizing certain channels, or even maintaining a high level of engagement; but of providing a club and staff that your members deem worthy of talking about.

If you provide world class service, great facilities and phenomenal classes, your customers will talk about it. The Word of Mouth equity you accrue as a result will work in your favor at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising and will carry a great deal more clout. 

Bob Shoulders
Director of Social Media Services
Retention Management


A. Content marketing is all the talk these days. Social media has gone from what many considered to be a distraction to an all-encompassing and unavoidable part of communicating and conducting business. It is vital to learn how to communicate using some of these tools. The key in content marketing is to really understand what consumers truly want and need and to provide it to them in the method, time and place of their choice. To effectively do this it is critical to understand how your customer prefers to communicate. For example, O2 MAX targets teens and college students but we also communicate with parents and adults. We have learned that each demographic has a preferred method of communication and if we really want to ensure a response it is vital to communicate the way they like to communicate.

Social media has become an enabling framework for brands and educators to create an interactive environment filled with expression and sharing capabilities. Mobile devices represent a major impetus behind the social media movement, driving part of the 250% audience increase for the year ending February 2009.

With so many social media platforms to chose from these days it might be daunting to even know where to begin. A great option for clubs might be to conduct an incentivized survey. For example, as summer gets underway clubs might want to consider offering a free perk to customers that take the time to fill out a survey. Send your customers a link to share with their friends via e-mail. Monitor which social networks they chose to share the link with their friends on. This could result in generating new leads while getting the information you need to more effectively communicate with your existing customers. 

Karen Jashinsky
Founder & Chief Fitness Officer
O2 MAX Fitness



This post is a part of our weekly Best Practices series. We post a new question and answer every Monday. If you have a question you'd like our Industry Leaders to answer, submit your question today.

For past Best Practices questions, go



Ideal Temperature for Water Aerobics

Q: "What is ideal temperature for water aerobics?"

A: That’s a tough one. Water temperature is a lot like music, everyone has their personal preferences.

It is hard to please both the hardcore lap swimmer who would prefer the water temp was 78-79 degrees and the senior member with arthritis who would like to get into 86-88 degree water.

Unless you have the luxury of a dedicated warm water therapy pool, you would normally split the difference and keep the temp as close to 81 degrees as possible. Water aerobics participants can generally begin moving quickly enough to overcome the initial jolt to their system and get their heart rate pumping sufficiently to adjust to 81 degree water.

Bob Shoulders, Owner
Fayetteville Athletic Club

A: According to the American College of Sports Medicine - “Health / Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines” (second edition), the appropriate temperature for fitness facility pools is between 78 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Experience suggest that most “lap swimmers” prefer 78 – 80 degrees, most “aqua aerobics participants” prefer 81 – 83 degrees, and most “aqua therapy / rehabilitation clients” prefer 84 – 86 degrees. These ranges work great of course if you have specific pools for each purpose. If not, as is the case with most health clubs, a compromise of 80 – 82 seems to work best.

Brent Darden, Owner
TELOS Fitness Center