Differentiation

Fitness has been a growth industry over the last 20 years. The number of fitness club memberships has grown to over 50 million in 2012, and the demand for clubs is expected to continue growing over the next five years as Americans become more health conscious (IHRSA, 2012, n.p.).

With our increasing emphasis on fitness, let’s examine how two of the leading fitness centers in the USA, LA Fitness and Gold’s Gym use social media to drive business, differentiate their brand, and help us get in shape.

Both Gyms maintain a multi-platform approach and employ best practices in terms of frequent, relevant posts to the target audience, and responding promptly to comments; but LA Fitness takes the lead when it comes to promoting other channels, encouraging sharing, and publishing content.

Gold’s Facebook page has 336,185 likes and 36,032 check ins. Regular posts offer interesting content on fitness tips, inspirational stories and contests that result in a multitude of likes and comments. Some of the posts are more engaging and ask for comments, such as “What Inspires you to get up early and go to the gym?”. The site also features contests, such as the recent Flex Photo Contest where fans submitted pictures of themselves in a Gold’s Gym shirt. Posts about the contest were featured regularly to maintain visibility. Most of Gold’s posts link to articles on external sites. A more effective strategy would be to link back to content on their own website.

GoldsFaceBookPosts1

GoldsPhotoContest2

The LA Fitness Facebook page has 251,913 likes, 4,112,896 check ins, and posts similar content to Gold’s.  What I like about the LA Fitness page is that the posts link back to the LAFitness blog, keeping the reader engaged instead of pointing them to another site. Also, LA Fitness does a good job promoting their other social sites such as Instagram and YouTube, and encourages viewers to like and share posts, a strategy Gold’s doesn’t use.

LAFITNSESS FbPosts

LAFItnessSharing

LAFItNESSYouTube

LA Fitness has a great blog containing posts about fitness, inspirational stories, and features an “Ask our Dietitian” section. Blogging is a great way to engage readers with useful content that they can share with their networks.  This rich content also enhances SEO. There are multiple places to subscribe called out in bold graphics. Readers can follow by email and/or grab an RSS feed. A like button and multiple share buttons are available on all posts, and easy navigation at the top allows readers to go to the website for class schedules and guest passes.

LAFitnessBlogPage2

Gold’s Twitter page has 41,641 followers. Regular tweets mirror those found on Facebook. This site is conversational with Gold’s responding to questions and comments. The photo stream consists mainly of images associated with posts without any links.

LA Fitness, on the other hand, has 54,260 followers and most of their tweets link to content on their website, blog, Youtube videos, or other social channels. The company also uses fun ways to entice readers to retweet. Many of LA Fitness’ Twitter Photos include links to their other social channels like Instagram and YouTube.

LAFitnessTweets

Gold’s YouTube channel offers videos on workout tips, success stories, and event highlights as does the LA Fitness channel. LA Fitness has a feature video in the top position about why viewers should subscribe to the LA Fitness YouTube and Google+ channels, and they offer links to their other social channels, website and blog in the about section. 

LAFitnessYouTubeExample2

On Google+, LA Fitness has 70,837+1s and 64,000+ have them in circles compared to Gold’s 1,728+1s and 844 circles. The posts are similar to the Facebook posts in terms of content. Again, I like LAFitness’ strategy of linking back to their blog or website and promoting other platforms.

Gold’s Pinterest page has 5 boards that touch on subjects like motivation, challenges, and inspiration but most link back to the same general page on Gold’s website, instead of content pertaining to the board. LA Fitness has a more robust pinterest presence with 14 boards that link back to relevant content on the website, blog, or YouTube.

On Instagram, Gold’s has 3,000+ followers and 42 posts on subjects found on the other channels. LA Fitness  has 16,000+ followers and 51 posts. LA Fitness does a good job asking for likes which seems to be working because their posts get hundreds of them.

In sum, LAFitness uses social media more effectively to differentiate the brand and drive business. By linking back to the blog which houses useful content about topics of interest to the target market, LA Fitness stands out as a thought leader and trusted resource. Sharing widgets allow users to pass on content to their networks, extending reach. Subscribe buttons and RSS feed links grow their email database and following. Their strategy of co-promoting social sites, asking for likes and retweets help to further increase their following, reach, and in turn, drive business.

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6 Responses to Differentiation

  1. Sharon VanDell says:

    Good job Judy!  I just tweeted your post on How to Blog and Tweet more effectively.  :  )

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  2. This was a great post! For one it made me think of how these two industry giants use social media and the creative ways they do it. It makes me want to participate in Gold’s Gym ‘Transformation Tuesday.’ It’s just something about that whole concept that is filled with the emotion of engagement. Great work!

  3. Tee Jay says:

    Hi Judy,

    Great choice. I am a Gold’s member and to be honest I don’t follow them on any social site. I just never thought to or even see promotion on it at the gym. The thing is, when you walk into any gym, people are on their phones listening to music, watching video or hooking up the iPod to the elliptical. They are definitely missing a big opportunity. I know that foursquare isn’t one of the biggest tools out there compared to the big three (Fb, Twiiter and IG), but it would be a great tool to monitor their loyal customers and provide an opportunity to reward them or highlight there successes.

    People are always on the internet looking for new exercise ideas and “quick fixes”, why not use YouTube videos and program them to be “channel” on their machines. This would help them obtain more subscribers and encourage members to post their new workout video.

    I recently downloaded their app but honestly have only opened once or twice, just not knowing what to do with it and the only reason I got it was because I heard it in passing at the gym.

    They have lots of potential to enhance their gym brand but by the numbers you mentioned, they have yet to capture all their members attention.

    -TJ

    • JA Silva says:

      TJ, thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I really like your idea of Gold’s promoting their YouTube Channel on the machine monitors. Gold’s is on Foursquare as is LA Fitness but neither is doing much with it in terms of offering specials and promoting it.

  4. I wish local, smaller gyms were as active on social media as these two gyms. They both have mixed social media strategies that engage their users. I’m curious to know how they choose one tactic over another. Do they conduct social media surveys?

    • JA Silva says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I also wish smaller local gyms are more active on social media. I did research smaller gyms as a comparison and they are doing a very poor job with social media. They have a presence, but are by no means employing best practices. As with any marketing activity, understanding the target audience and their needs is key to determining which platforms to create a presence on. Analysis of what competitors are doing is another way to determine which platforms and tactics work. I do not know if these gyms conduct surveys, however, surveys are a great way to gain customer feedback.

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