You might be saying, "Come on now! The only thing social media does is add to my waistline since I spend too much time in front of the computer."
Well I am here to tell you that's only because you are using it wrong.
I'm not making that statement in an accusatory way. I've fallen into the same trap (as evidenced by my increasingly large physique). :)
We've all rushed out to purchase the "at home" exercise equipment which we've creatively figured out how to use as place to hang our clothes, or as a dust collector.
Come on ... you remember. You decided to purchase the equipment for your home so you could eliminate the recurring fee you paid to the health club. The crazy thing is you weren't using the membership anyhow.
If you talk to any health club professional or personal trainer you'll find the most important ingredient to any weight loss program is accountability. We all know it is much more difficult to hold yourself accountable than it is to have other people keeping you in check. The following are seven steps any health club can use to help it's members lose weight using Twitter or any other social media platform.
Step One - Set up a Twitter Account and Start a Group
The first thing you'll need to do is go to Twitter.com and set up an account. This is important for any business since you'll want to control your brand. Remember back when the Internet started becoming more and more prominent and you ignored it and neglected to snag your www.yourcompany.com domain name? Well, don't let that happen again.
Once you've set up your Twitter account you can go to twittgroups.com or twibes.com and set up your group, otherwise known as a "hash tag." You'll simply choose a word or words and have a "#" sign before it. This will help keep all related "tweets" categorized and easy to follow.
Step Two - Establish Ground Rules
Common sense tells us that the trick to losing weight is decreasing your intake and increasing your physical activity. The slightest adjustment in the correct direction for each of these things will result in marked progress if you keep it up for a significant period of time.
It's important to measure the progress so each of the participants should take measurements, weigh themselves, and even take some before photos.
As a health club you should encourage your "Weight Loss Club Members" to sign up for their own individual Twitter accounts and send out "Tweets" that contain your "hash tag" each time they eat something, and each time they exercise. If your participants know there are other people who will be reviewing it, they'll be less apt to fall off the wagon.
Step Three - Give Away a Prize
Although this can definitely be a an ongoing tool that could be used by anyone, set up four 90 day periods and allow a limited number of participants. This alone will drive participation since nobody wants to be locked out of a contest.
Even though losing weight will be a great benefit to the participants, if they know they could potentially win a free membership for a year, they'll find added motivation. I know that may seem like a big prize, but if you limit it to the person who made the best progress throughout the contest period, you'll only be giving away four memberships each year. The PR you'll receive by doing this and the advertising and promotion opportunities will FAR OUTWEIGH this small loss of revenue.
Step Four - Promote the Program
We've all heard of "The Biggest Loser" and there are oodles of people who watch that show. Why not take advantage of the popularity?
Use your online and offline newsletter, your email database, flyers, your personal trainers, and your front desk staff to promote the program. You can even use Twitter and Facebook to do it as well. Talk about it as much as possible. If you do it right you will find people who live beyond your geographic reach may start participating. If you are creative you can potentially uncover additional revenue opportunities that extend beyond geography and membership based revenue.
Step Five - Monitor Participants Progress
Once the program has begun, spend 5-10 minutes a couple times a day reviewing the progress of your participants. Take a peak at what food they are consuming and what activities they are participating in. Compare those actions with the goals they set.
If you happen to find someone who hasn't "tweeted" in awhile, or seems to be making some poor consumption choices, send them a direct message encouraging them. This might just be the reminder they need and you could be making a much bigger impact on their health than you even imagine.
Step Six - Send out Motivational "Tweets" EVERY DAY
Most people have a difficult time with self motivation. Since you know this to be true, take the time every day to send out general motivation "Tweets" to all your participants. These subtle reminders will help keep them on track and when your contest is complete you'll have some incredible case studies to share with the people who didn't decide to participate. You'll also increase the credibility of your personal trainers since they are guiding these participants in the right direction.
Step Seven - Track and Publish the Results
If your health club doesn't have a blog ... get one! You should be tracking the progress of your weight loss club on your blog and showcase the many case studies you create during each of your contests. Of course you'll need to get the permission of the people whose story you use, but I am guessing if they've made the kind of progress that's worth sharing, they'll be more than happy to comply with your request.
Be creative and have fun with this idea. I believe if you consistently follow these steps and enhance them with your own "club personality" you'll see an increase in your membership base and you'll potentially find additional ideas for non-membership revenue generation. Keep me posted on your progress!
Co-Founder Mindscape at Hanon McKendry
Co-Founder Mindscape at Hanon McKendry
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