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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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