Practical Tips to Help You Use Social Media as a Personal Trainer
It’s 1 p.m. on a Monday and I’ve just posted on Instagram. I’ve closed the app on my phone and started to get into creating a training programme for a new client.
Except, there’s this pull towards checking back into Instagram to see how many likes I’ve got.
“Ah it won’t hurt to check it for 30 seconds”
I check it and get my dopamine fix, but like most people, I get consumed by Instagram’s ability to pull me into its newsfeed.
15 minutes later I snap myself out of a mindless scroll. I’m not even enjoying it, and it takes me some time to get into the right headspace so I can get back to the work I had planned to do.
Social media can be an excellent tool in the personal trainer’s toolbox. Never has it been as easier to put your knowledge out there and market to people in both your local area and worldwide.
But, it can also quickly become something that hinders rather than helps.
Can you honestly say your use of social media is always productive?
If you’re anything like me, I’d say 10% of the time I use it, it helps LTB. The other 90% is wasted time. Time that could be spent on being fully present when I’m with my son and wife, time that could be used to write more blog posts like these that actually help other trainers, time that could be used to develop myself, exercise or just chill out.
I also know that when my consumption is higher than I want it to be, my anxiety, sleep and general well being are negatively affected. Sometimes I need to spend more time on it to do work specific things, but I never need to be on it for more than an hour per day.
Is it Really That Much of an Issue?
I’m a big advocate for using social media to grow your brand and business. It’s been a huge help to me in both my career as a full-time personal trainer and as someone who now helps other trainers.
I’ve gained clients from it, I’ve made friends and I’ve gotten opportunities I wouldn’t have had without it.
I’m also well aware of how much time I waste on it.
Maybe it’s not that much of an issue to you. If you feel like you’re progressing forward at a speed you’re happy with and your time on social media is justified, don’t make any changes. But if you’re anything like the 50+ trainers I’ve spoken to in the last year who are finding it a space that easily eats into time that could be better spent, it might be time to make a change.
Start by calculating (through an app like screentime) how much time you do use on it and questioning if this is too much for your business goals. Maybe you do spend upwards of an hour a day on it, but most of that is spent messaging leads and posting new content. But maybe you spend most of that time scrolling and moving no closer to your goals.
The big question to ask yourself is “is the time I’ve spent on it time well spent?”. If it’s not, aim to make a change. If it is, keep at it!
There Are Other Ways to Market What You do
Social media is one of many methods that can be used to market what you do. If done correctly, it’s an effective one, but it is not the only one.
The principle of marketing is to get more people to know about you and how you can help them. That can be done by standing on a street corner, saying hello to everyone who passes by and handing out a flyer or by hosting a seminar in a local community centre. It can also be done by texting/emailing every single one of your contacts and telling them about a reduced price trial you’re offering.
There are many, many methods available to market what you do. Remember that social media is only one of those.
Learn More: Take a look at our 31 lesson marketing course
Effective Social Media Use
Effective social media use very much depends on what it is you’re using it for. Like any tool, there must be a goal to its use.
Are you posting for the sake of posting? Does each post have some kind of goal behind it? Is there a theme behind what you post? Have you thought through what it is you’re trying to achieve by posting on social media?
Your reason doesn’t need to be super complex, but it does need to be thought through. If your goal is lead generation, but you spend upwards of 60 minutes per day scrolling without ever putting up a post or messaging anyone who engages with your content, is it really serving its purpose? Or is it just distracting and stopping you doing the real work of getting more clients?
Here are some tips to use social media effectively:
Post about your clients
If your clients transform their lives, achieve a cool goal, hit a weight loss target or hit a nice milestone (1 year with you/ 100 PT sessions etc), get their permission to post something about them.
You can also tell stories about their journeys. If you have a client tomorrow and one of your clients tells you a suggestion you made to slow down during meal times has helped them manage their hunger, there is a story in there that could easily be turned into a post.
Talk about what you do, how you do it and how it helps people
If you want more clients and you’ve got a social media platform, your goal should be to raise awareness of your services. Talk about your sessions with your current clients, new materials you’re creating, how your service works and education your taking to up your knowledge and service standards.
Aim to highlight your personal training service, how it works and how it helps people.
Show your human side
Don’t be afraid of sharing your vulnerable human side. If you used to struggle with body image, that could make a great series of posts. If you miss a workout or overeat, telling your followers about that can help with making you more relatable.
There are a million and one topics your followers could benefit from gaining education on. From why exercise isn’t an effective fat loss tool to why the keto diet is no more effective than calorie counting, there’s plenty of potential posts that could be created with education in mind.
Message your followers and say hi
If someone new follows your page, reach out and introduce yourself. Offer to help if they need it. The best way to take someone from a follower to someone who pays you money is to build a relationship. Spending time getting to know them and offering your help is one to do this.
It could be a competition for a month of personal training, a free copy of your ‘10 steps to a better body’ e-book you’ve created or a year in your subscription service. Giveaways can be useful ways to get loads of people commenting and engaging with your stuff.
Start a group for your local area
This is a slow burner of an idea, but one that can work well if you’re willing to put in the time. Start a local Facebook for your area. It could be called “[Your Town] Fat Loss and Exercise”. Post regularly, do it consistently over a long period, run live Q&A’s and make your group a friendly and helpful place people from your area can go to get advice on fitness and health!
Gain inspiration from others who are doing it well
Find other trainers or educators on social media platforms and see what they are doing. There’s nothing wrong with taking inspiration from the work that someone you enjoy following. When I started posting on Facebook 8 years ago, my first 3 posts were set up in a similar fashion to Scott Baptie from Food For Fitness. At the time, Scott was doing superb things on social media and he gave me a starting point similar to what I wanted to write about.
Just make sure that who you’re getting inspiration from applies to your audience and not just other trainers.
Practical Usage Tips For Social Media
As I’ve made the case for above, social media is something that can be useful for the personal trainer, but it can easily become something that steals time. It’s for this reason that it’s important to put some safeguards in place. Here are some ideas:
Delete it from your phone and only use it on your laptop –
Is there a need to have it on your phone? Is there really an emergent need to have access to it wherever you go? If you do need to use it to post (like for Instagram), download the app, post, then delete it straight off.
Use a newsfeed eradicator –
The newsfeed is where Instagram/ Facebook get you because they learn what you like and then show you more of that content. Consider downloading an extension into your browser so you cannot see your newsfeed. Trust me, you’ll miss very little. You can still get access to your favourite groups (hint: the LTB one) but you’ll miss all the news your cousin’s friend posts about conspiracy theories.
Plan in time to waste/ scroll through certain accounts –
I use social media as a research tool for new podcast guests. I have a big list of people who I want to see what they post every week. On a Friday for 30 minutes, I schedule time to search for those accounts and look at what they’ve posted. Maybe for you, it’s a daily thing where you give yourself 20 minutes at lunch to just scroll mindlessly. Whatever it is, try to make it something mindful instead of mindless. The author Cal Newport likens it to planning in time to watch your favourite TV show that’s on every week. If it’s something you enjoy, schedule in the time to do it.
Website blockers –
Consider an app like Freedom that you can install into your browser to block you from certain websites at certain times. It works well and is not a cop-out. It’s like advising your client not to buy a food they know they can’t control themselves with.
Use the time you create to do things you enjoy –
I enjoyed hearing Chris Burgess’ talk about using social media on his recent Personal Trainer Daily podcast. Chris mentioned that he’s created a better relationship with social media by spending less time on it AND ensuring he’s spending that time doing things that give his life meaning. He walks more, listens to albums and cooks dinner for his family. Consider what you’ll do with the time you gain by reducing your social media usage. Maybe it’s to read more books, do more steps or spend more quality time with your family.
Learn More About LTB
If you enjoyed this blog post, you may want to check out our 30-day social media challenge we’re running on November the 2nd. We’ll be giving you daily accountability to develop consistency with your posting as well as examples of posts that work well for personal trainers. Alongside this, you’ll be given opportunities to receive feedback on what you post and access to a content calendar so you can take the stress out of posting!