Building a community between your fitness members is important if you want to grow your business. If you don’t have a central place for your members to communicate with you and each other, they’re less likely to stick around and refer you to their friends and family.
Facebook is one of the most powerful online tools for fitness studios to grow their business. It includes a ton of free features from business pages to ad accounts, but there’s one feature that most fitness studios don’t use enough: Facebook Groups.
If you already use Facebook groups as a way to grow your studio — awesome! And if you don’t (or you want to learn how to use them even better), here are the 4 Facebook groups your fitness business needs to thrive.
1. The Membership Group
A membership group is one of the simplest and most influential Facebook groups for a studio. On the surface, membership groups look fairly similar to your business’s Facebook page, but unlike a standard Facebook page, membership groups help make the entire customer experience more personal.
The point of your membership group is to build community between your paying members — which, as a boutique fitness studio, is what makes you thrive over globo gyms. This gives you a central place to communicate with every single one of your members, which makes it the ideal place for sharing announcements, public congratulations, big wins, upcoming specials, business updates, and more.
The membership group allows your members to connect with each other and form new bonds. It also gives you a place to handle customer service issues in a personal and attentive manner, which makes your members 71% more likely to recommend your gym to family and friends.
So if a longtime member met their weight loss goal and you want to give them a shout out, or if a few members decide to start attending classes as a group, your membership Facebook group is the perfect place to communicate this.
One of the fitness studio owners we work with, Liberty Harper, created a members-only Facebook group for the women at her gym and found that not only did her members stay more engaged, but her studio’s retention rate went up dramatically. Here’s more of the results she’s seen:
2. The Elite Group
Your membership group should have some crossover with your elite group. There should only be members in this group … but only the members who are elite qualify. That means only your ideal customers — loyal, honest, upbeat, and your target demographic — make the cut. These are the best of the best of your studio’s members; the ones who are perfect for your studio in every way.
Think of the elite group as your membership advisory panel that you can use as a sounding board for major decisions about your fitness studio. So if you want to add a weekend class but aren’t sure which time slot would be better, your elite group can tell you which time they find more valuable.
Remember that your goal is to create a fitness business that is better for members who are your ideal customers. So the members of this group should be people whose opinions you respect and admire.
These members are also your ambassadors, or the people who consistently bring in the most business for your company. They’re your gym’s cheerleaders who you can always count on to represent your business in the best way.
If your business has a partner or vendor who always brings in great referrals and talks up your studio, include them here. If you have a staff member who kills it at customer service and always greets members with a smile, they belong in this group. The key of the elite group is to include people who talk positively about your fitness studio actively … not reactively. These people don’t wait for someone to ask if they know of a great fitness studio in the area because they love to tell everyone how awesome your business is.
3. The Challenge Group
This Facebook group may only be for certain gyms. This is the challenge group, and it’s ideal for studios that like to run 6-week promos (boot camps, slim down, etc.), 21-day challenges, etc. This is a great way to bring in even more leads and also upgrade current students.
The challenge group is similar to your membership group, but more exclusive. Once registration for the challenge closes (once people pay to sign up), create a Facebook group for all of the participants. You can use this to share stats and post nutrition tips, and it gives your challenge participants a place to connect and bond outside of the gym.
4. The Staff Group
The last Facebook group that’ll help your studio thrive is a staff group. This is the place where you and your facility’s staff can share funny videos, inside jokes, and internal reminders. This group should be playful and fun, and a way to enjoy each other’s company outside of work.
Here’s a peek into the Loud Rumor staff Facebook group:
Tips for Managing Facebook Groups
Here are a few things to consider when you create these Facebook groups for your fitness studio:
1. Be Consistent
Just like your own social media channels, Facebook groups need regular engagement to stay relevant. That doesn’t mean you have to post multiple times a day — once a week is great — but it does mean that your posting frequency needs to be consistent. People love regularity, and a group that goes 3 weeks without posting and then posts 4 times in one day looks erratic.
Remember Liberty, who we mentioned earlier? She found that when she posted consistently in her member group, so did her members and instructors. And the more they posted, the more invested they became.
2. Encourage and Appreciate Engagement
One of the hardest things about a Facebook group is that it can be difficult to get a response from people, especially in smaller groups. But your elite and challenge groups need responses from members in order to function well. So if you need engagement in a certain post, ask for it. Here’s an example of what you might say:
Once your members respond, be sure to thank them for their participation. It’s important to recognize their effort (this is part of building a community).
3. No Negativity Anywhere
The most important thing to remember when managing your Facebook groups is that they are communities, and as the group moderator, you set the tone for every interaction that happens in that group. Negativity breeds negativity, and if the group sees something posted that’s even slightly pessimistic, they’ll start posting the same type of content — like calling other members out for being late to class or complaining about the bikes in the spin room.
When that happens, the group is no longer a happy place for your members. That’s a negative feeling they’ll bring to your studio as well. So always find the silver lining in what you post in the group. Remember these Facebook groups are intended to help your studio thrive and grow — and you want to do that in a positive direction.
When used correctly, Facebook groups can not only provide a place for your membership to connect and grow … they can also be a valuable asset to your fitness studio’s online presence. Follow these steps, and you’ll be heading in the right direction.
What Facebook groups do you use or plan to use for your fitness business? We’d love to hear in the comments below!
Mike Arce is the CEO and founder of Loud Rumor, a lead generation company for fitness studios and independent gyms that supports their customers with sales training and techniques to grow and scale.
Mike has spoken for companies like Infusionsoft, the Better Business Bureau, ASBA, and Local First – all on the topic of Local Business Internet Marketing. He has a passion for local businesses and helping them grow. You can get fresh, updated tips from Mike here.