Every man and his dog seems to be espousing the virtues of social media for marketing a fitness business nowadays.
They tell you that social media is the next ‘big thing’ and that if you’re not updating, tweeting or sharing something with the world about yourself or your fitness business in at least one of the many social media networks, then you’re missing out big style.
They tell you that social media is THE absolute best way to connect with the largest number of people who may be interested in taking you up on one or more of your fitness business services.
And, you know, I’m not going to disagree with them. Not one little bit.
Social media definitely isn’t the next big thing though. There’s nothing ‘next’ about it.
It’s THE big thing, right here, right now.
It’s important to every element of developing a know, like and trust strategy that, ultimately, guarantees and assures the success of your fitness business over time and yes, failing to utilise social media is like taking on Tim Goodwin in the World archery championships with a blindfold on and one arm tied behind your back.
Not much chance of beating Tim anyway as he’s world ranked but with those extra handicaps you’re completely out of the game, right?
Same if you don’t get social media savvy.
You need to use it. Period.
But HOW you use it, well that’s the thing isn’t it?
I know that many people love the old Tweeting and that many others absolutely love their facebook status updates and even their group pages but I’ve gotta tell you, to me both those platforms are merely message portals to do something far, far more important (and lucrative) than most fitness professionals are doing.
Let me explain.
If you’ve been online for a while you’ll know that one of the buzzwords in marketing is ‘Tribe’. Everyone’s always talking about ‘building your tribe’, aren’t they?
But what do they really mean?
Seems to me like most people are just using new language to talk about old stuff. When they say tribe, they’re really talking about ‘list building’ most of the time and think only about adding numbers to lists.
I’m not knocking that, list building is a vital part of growing your business, especially online, but if that’s what people are talking about, then why use the word tribe?
Well, if you’ve been around me very much, you’ll know that I’m very interested in etymology, the study of words and their meanings, so when someone starts randomly using a word around me, I like to understand what they really mean so, even though it’s kind of obvious, I looked up the word ‘tribe’ to see what the dictionary had to say about it.
a class or set of persons, esp. one with strong commontraits or interests.
a group of people, often of related families, who live together, sharing the same language, culture and history, especially those who do not live in towns or cities
any aggregate of people united by ties of descent from a common ancestor, community of customs and traditions,adherence to the same leaders, etc.
When looked at it from definitions of what a tribe really is, very little of what goes on in most of the popular social media platforms is truly tribal, is it?
Few people are collected together for a common cause, adhering to similar traditions or sharing similar language are they?
And the more I thought about it, the more sites like facebook and Twitter seemed to me to be a kind of ‘cyber city’ with people to-ing and fro-ing, taking a few minutes here and there for small talk and (mostly) meaningless banter before moving on to their next visit with someone else.
Nothing wrong with that, of course, but, to me at least, it seemed to be the complete antithesis of what a tribe was supposed to be about.
I mean, be honest, when YOU think of a tribe, what do you think of? A group of closely connected people usually living in isolation or semi isolation in their own little village, right?
They have their own language, customs, rituals and they have very rich social connections that our modern social media can’t even begin to touch on.
That’s why I’m not huge on Facebook, it de-personalises and distracts members of the tribe I’m trying to build.
I mean, think on it, when you’re in FB and you see those little red flags come up saying that you someone wrote on your wall or inboxed you or tagged you in a picture, you can’t help but stop what you’re reading or popping out of the thread you’re responding to to find out who it was and what they had to say, can you?
It’s just like a city! Full of noise, distractions, sights, sounds and… crap!
And just like in a city, people don’t connect. Not REALLY.
Oh, they may nod, smile, observe the common courtesies but there’s no connection, is there? There’s not much in most social media either.
People are proud of the number of ‘friends’ they have following them but they’re not really friends are they? Not most of them, at least. If you’re at all unsure about that then send out a status update and ask to borrow £5 and see how many of your friends will pop that into paypal for you…
So, where am I heading with my mad ramble?
Well, it’s simple and obvious really.
If FB and Twitter are ‘cities’ and cities are not conducive to building a truly connected tribe then the only thing that makes sense is to give your tribe a community of its own. A place where they all share a common aim, where they all speak the same language, where they’re all connected by a feeling of belonging to something bigger than themselves.
They need a VILLAGE!
PTSA is a village. it’s only small with some 600 members from the fitness profession and actually, only about 50 are true regular contributors but there’s a connection, a common aim (to be great coaches) a common language (KCA, IPC etc) and definitely a feeling of connectedness.
Do you think this would have happened with FB or Twitter?
My other ‘village’ has almost 5200 members right now, most of whom are connected through my Elimination diet, Magic Hundred Program or one of my online challenges that I run regularly throughout the year.
They communicate with each other frequently (hundreds of posts a day), they support each other, speak the same language and share a common aim and they LOVE being part of something bigger than themselves.
Do you think you that you can get 5200 people supporting each other in this way on FB and Twitter?
Maybe you can, but I haven’t seen much evidence of this.
And you know, as well as creating these tribes of incredible people, I’ve also managed to monetise both villages to the tune of well over 6-figures a year.
My point is (and i’m sure that there are many people who may argue) that the BIG social media platforms are great for general socialising, chit-chatting, shooting the breeze, making announcements, advertising and pointing people to other things that you may want them to see but in terms of building, growing and supporting your tribe it leaves a lot to be desired.
That why you MUST have a village (community site). Your tribe needs a place to live and YOU owe it to them to build it for them.
There are plenty of great platforms for building your village (I choose Ning because it’s easy) so there’s no excuse not to get building.
Build your village, invite your tribe, keep them connected and a funny thing happens.
You make money, almost without trying.
Build your village!