Engage Your Online Fitness Community in 6 Easy Ways
2018 April 09
The power of an online community and its impact on business is extremely high. Building a solid online community adds to your credibility, while also helping you attract new customers. This is especially true for fitness businesses, which thrives on customer recommendations and online reviews.
Research by Vision Critical shows how customers increase their spending by 19%, after joining an online community. This is why you need to spend the time to create and maintain an online community.
Keep your community happy through focused engagement
Engagement is the key to keeping your community of followers interested and loyal.
Follow these 6 tips and find yourself creating a dedicated and loyal online fitness community for your fitness center:
1. Foster a community culture that’s unique to you
Take the example of the online community built by Nike Running Club. NRC offers an open space for runners at all levels of fitness, to interact with each other, learn from professionals and seek advice from experienced coaches, on the community.
The community is non-judgmental and highly-inclusive, creating a culture that’s based on the belief ‘anyone can start running at any time’. This is what makes NRC tick.
As a fitness center owner, you too need to create a community based on a specific culture. This culture should reflect your beliefs and principles.
Remember, members respond to a community’s integral belief system and the culture you create will be a magnet for attracting and retaining members.
2. Offer personalized support to members
The most successful online communities are those that listen to their member’s problems and offer instantaneous support. A great way to keep your members with you is to offer personalized assistance.
Set up discussion forums and FAQ pages. Allow members to post queries either through direct message or on community boards and spend time answering their questions. Have a conversation with the member and personalize your support to suit their requirements.
Give members access to tools and technology to foster communication. Today, you have many software and tools like GetSatisfaction and UserEcho that you can incorporate to serve your members.
3. Enlist the services of experienced community managers
As a trainer, you may not have the time for the maintenance and upkeep of your online community. In these cases, it’s good to have dedicated community managers, to manage your online community.
The community manager will take care of everything from publishing content to providing backend support to members. He/she will take on the task of interacting with and engaging your members, ensuring that they are kept occupied at all times.
It’s important to choose someone who’s passionate about your business and who can add value to your members.
4. Integrate new members into the community from the get-go
The first experience a new member has with a community will color the relationship between the community and member for the rest of the association. This is why it’s important to engage new members immediately, upon joining.
As good practice, send across a welcome mail or a newsletter, introducing the new member to the culture of the community. Provide tricks on navigating the community and tips to getting the best out of the association.
You can even send across games, surveys and quizzes to understand your new member and then custom-curate content which he/she will enjoy.
If you’re starting a running circle or a fitness class near the new member’s place of residence, send across an e-vite, inviting him/her to the event. Doing so will make the new member feel more involved in the community’s events.
5. Use the help of moderators to involve members
Research by Needle shows 84% of customers feel comfortable asking questions and seeking clarifications from brand advocates on online communities than speaking to customer representatives and salesmen from the company.
This is where community moderators come into play. Moderators are existing community members, who’ve been in the community for long and are extremely knowledgeable about community rules, culture, behavior and more.
They are often brand advocates and can help you find prospects for your business.
They are one of the best ways to engage members, as they can act as buddies and help ease the members into the community. They can show members around your site and help them with any query they have.
They can also help maintain decorum within the community by keeping an eye out for inappropriate posts or community regulation violations.
Using moderators will increase your community’s credibility and image; as it will position your community as a thought-leader, as opposed to a promotional platform.
6. Encourage community members to contribute content and feedback
Whether you’re starting a discussion or creating fitness challenges, it’s important to involve your members every step of the way. One way you could do this is by encouraging members to provide feedback after every challenge or activity you launch on the community.
This way you’ll know whether your members enjoy these activities or not and if they find it difficult or easy to complete.
Another great way to encourage member involvement is to ask them suggestions for content. If your members want to learn about healthy diets, curate content related to nutrition and fitness.
Ask your members to suggest content which can be helpful to other members. Encourage them to introduce new topics of conversation on the community.
You can also help members get in touch with other communities that they’re interested in. Let’s say the Fitbit community has a great article on ‘tricks to improve user experience using the tracker’. Sharing the article on your community is a great way to add value to your members.
Many members on your community may use the Fitbit trackers and may find this article very helpful. Remember, the more useful information your members find on your community, the greater the chances there are of their being highly-engaged.
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Posted In: Social Media and Digital Marketing