A decade ago people who lacked motivation or community decided to take on a challenge and to participate in events joined a local running club and/or gym. In today's virtual age many online communities are being created via social media to keep each other motivated, share training tips and encourage physical activity.
Most big sports brands have already built massive virtual following and have an overwhelming amount of warm leads when it comes to their marketing strategy.
If you are a personal trainer trying to venture into online or hybrid coaching and aim to move most or all of your personal training business online, building a strong online community is a must and will be a good way to market your products and services in future. Here are top 10 ways to build an online community via your blog.
1. Create and Curate Implementable Content
Content that is relevant to the target audience is the very first requirement to successfully building an online community. However, apart from being relevant, the content should also be implementable in reality.
For example, a post entitled ‘Ways to stay hydrated to aid fat loss and recovery’ should not only give readers tips on staying hydrated; it should also provide easy-to-implement solutions. Readers should be given alternative options which they can use if one tip doesn’t work for them.
2. Always Reply to Comments
Reader engagement is the best way to build an online community; especially so, when your readers are people who actively seek advice and tips from you.
If you’ve posted a video or a blog post on a topic your audience is keen on learning more about, chances are you’ll have at least a handful of questions or comments regarding the content. Be sure to reply to every single person who’s commented on your post.
Not doing so leaves a sour taste in their mouth and makes you look ignorant.
3. Network with Industry Veterans
Seek connection with experts who have been working your niche for far longer than you and have a reputation in the field.
Is there an experienced athlete in your circle, who you think can add value to your community? Do you know of a nutritionist who can help your members stick to a diet? Then why not network with them and have them guest post on your blog?
Or create a blog about their "Top 10 Tips" and mention them in your social media marketing. You've provided something useful to your readers and summed up some great tips from an experienced athlete and they'll be more likely to share your work among their own followers.
You can then share this in your Facebook community and get tonnes of traffic to your website.
When you offer your readers valuable and relevant information, they are more likely to continue supporting you and they will also recommend you to friends.
I created a load of PT Distinction Stock images for PT Distinction users and shared it in our Facebook Group.
This was useful for Tim, useful for our audience and we got an influx of new community members from it.
4. Organize Challenges
People want to connect with like-minded people to help them through the times when their motivation is not on point. By organising interesting and engaging challenges like 5K Sunday runs, a 21-day online transformation challenge or even as simple as a burpee or press-up challenge, you are encouraging your readers to stay committed to their fitness goals.
5. Link to Relevant Websites and Blogs
If you have a favourite vlogger who posts about fitness, ideally in your niche, then back-linking their videos in your blog posts is a great way to offer your community members entertaining tidbits of information.
Be sure to inform the v/blogger that you are back-linking their content to yours. This will encourage them to promote your material for you, thereby giving you access to a wider population which you otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to interact with.
6. Include Polls and Contests
Your online community will love being asked for their opinion and will love taking part in fun activities and contests.
‘What type of a gym goer are you?’, ‘How much do you know about weight lifting?’ –are some examples of the type of quizzes you can create to make your fitness blog fun and engaging.
You can also include contest like ‘Best workout selfie’ and encourage your readers to post their best and sweatiest picture.
Aidan from D'Arcy Health Coaching regularly runs polls to find out what his members want to see more of.
7. Host Interviews with Experts
In 2015, in preparation for the New York City Marathon, Adidas had sporty social media influencers the likes of coach Robin Arzon and Ally Love hit the streets to pump-up the crowd.
The stars posted funny videos, motivational talks and gave runners some really cool tips to stay focused during the gruelling run on various Adidas running online communities.
You too can mimic Adidas by including interviews, write-ups, and videos by expert coaches, athletes or celebrities who can have something valuable to tell to your ideal clients.
8. Set-Up a Live Discussion Stream
Communities thrive on constant discussion and engagement. When people join an online community they want to learn more and keep progressing with your help and the social support. By setting up a live discussion stream on your blog, social media or Instant Messaging (WhatsApp), you allow readers and members to interact with you and each other.
Chat rooms and discussion streams are great sources of information and entertainment. This infotainment will certainly encourage your members to recommend your community to other serious fitness geeks who aren’t a part of your group yet.
9. Highlight Reader Contributions on the Blog
Has your reader shared a link to an amazing article by an Olympian athlete? Do you have one or more community members that are seasoned gym geeks or fitness enthusiasts?
Show your community that you appreciate when a member shares valuable information. Further, feel free to ask those you know have something to say to the newcomers to get involved and give them credit for it in your blogs.
Including your readers in your posts is a great way to make them feel appreciated, and this will certainly boost both your engagement levels and community following.
10. Allow Social Media Sharing
Finally, after you’ve implemented all the above tips, you have one more task – allow your members to share your community details and your posts on social media. Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook are great places for online communities to get new members and followers.
By including the right plugins and sharing links, you can get your posts and community across multiple platforms and to millions of fitness enthusiasts.
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