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Sukanya Kakoty

Guide to Instagram Marketing for Fitness Professionals

If you still think that Instagram is just a photo-sharing app, hold on! This wonder of an app could be like your wingman in a club and capture the right kind of attention for you. With a solid strategy in place, you can be sure to build your following into a true asset. In the world of social media, one might as well say Instagram is big cheese!

Today, Instagram has an advertising audience of more than 1.16 billion people offering you a platform with exponential reach. Around 90% of Instagram users follow at least 1 business, creating immense marketing opportunities.

Professionals in the fitness business often pursue diverse marketing strategies to drive their growth. Instagram provides this visually appealing social media platform with options to upload photos, short videos, reels, polls, and live interactions to keep its audience engaged and attract leads. Instagram has over 500 million active users and is the fourth most downloaded app in the world. Nearly 140 million people use Instagram in the US itself.

How to Optimize an Instagram Profile for your Fitness Business?

As you establish your Instagram presence, there are a few things you need to get right if you hope to attract a more extensive following and build their relationships with your fitness  brand.

  1. Set up your profile
  2. Upload brand-specific images
  3. Engage your followers
  4. Post Instagram Stories
  5. Create Instagram Story Highlights
  6. Use smart and catchy hashtags
  7. Tag relevant people in your photos
  8. Schedule posts wisely
  9. Increase your following
  10. Switch to a business profile
Instagram marketing strategies for fitness studios

1. Set up your profile

First off, your Instagram bio sets the foundation for your fitness business. This space gives your audience a brief, yet extremely valuable glimpse into what your studio is all about. Remember to keep it straight, welcoming, exciting, and one that highlights your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). The ‘name’ field in the bio is searchable and different from your Instagram handle. Names can't be longer than 30 characters and can only contain letters, numbers, periods, and underscores. Adding keywords in your name field within that limit will increase your visibility on search engines and help your website appear higher up the results page.

Let’s take the case of a growing, hypothetical studio named FitLyf Studio. You could name the profile something like FitLyf Studio | Arizona’ or FitLyf Personal Training’. For your profile picture, it is ideal to use your brand’s logo either as the whole image or feature in an image that best represents your studio. Make sure you optimize your bio by adding a link to your brand’s website, updating any upcoming event details, creating promotions, sharing new posts, and adding shoppable tags. Mention your collaborations (if any).

2. Upload brand-specific images

The name, Instagram, is a portmanteau of 'instant camera' and 'telegram.' So the first thing to watch out for is the kind and quality of your images. Your feed should be both visually appealing and serve as a message to your followers. High-quality images not only look and feel good but convey a very strong message about your brand. It shows that you are professional and serious about your fitness business and so will take good care in serving your clients.

If you are running a business, always put your best foot forward and keep your feed alive by posting only good-quality photos.  There are many ways to enhance photo quality, such as using photo-editing software, adjusting the resolution and brightness, and applying filters. Upload high-resolution photos of your gym/studio, of people working out, fitness mantras and quotes, upcoming event information with a relatable photo, gym trainer's picture, and anything that comes to your mind to make your business look polished.With the help of tools like Picsart, you can quickly enhance these images by using features like background removal in a flash to make your brand stand out even more.

Instagram provides several filters that fitness influencers could use to give photos the right impact. Use popular filters or one that matches your image content. For instance, to provide depth to your photos, you could try Hefe, Lo-Fi, or X-Pro II. The right impact is necessary to drive proper engagement.

How different instagram filters changes the impact of your fitness studio marketing

Another interesting and engaging form of content on Instagram is carousel posts. A carousel post is one that allows multiple photos or videos (up to 10) to be shared on a single feed. Multiple images or videos in one post will help you share more information around a specific topic that could be used to keep a user intrigued longer.

According to a study, out of over 22 million Instagram posts, carousels were found to be the most engaging. Yet only 19% of Instagram content consists of carousels. Carousels are still underused, but they can be used a lot more to drive engagement. For fitness professionals, this would be an effective way to channel their Instagram marketing strategy and build an online presence.

Fig. Carousel Posts driving maximum engagement among all content types in Instagram. 

Carousel Posts driving maximum engagement among all content types in Instagram

Source: Socialinsider data (January 2017-July 2020) 

3. Engage your Followers

Everyone loves their 15 mins of fame. Give your followers the spotlight they deserve through user-generated content (UGC). Teach your users an exercise or a pose via video/photo/contest alerts. Ask them to participate and share a similar photo or video with your brand’s hashtag. Give your participants a shout-out through your stories. In this way, you increase follower engagement and help your brand name reach a wider audience.

Attracting a bigger audience and a few potential customers would probably be impossible to achieve without user-generated posts. Never underestimate the power of a customer review. They can be one of the most significant factors that drive sales for your business. People like knowing about a product or service from real people who have tried it. Moreover, if you give your customers a platform and a voice, you also instantly create an opportunity to build customer loyalty.

Engage instagram followers with variety of content

Other ways of engaging Instagram followers are through interesting polls, online contests, and Instagram Lives to connect to your followers directly, Ask Me Anything (AMA), Tag Your Friends, Question and Answer rounds, educational tutorials, etc. Follow these exercises with a Product Giveaway. There must be an extra something- like a gift or a surprise that excites your users and encourages them to repost their achievements in their stories or feed.

4. Post Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are another powerful way to keep your audience constantly engaged and connected with your brand. Stories were launched in 2016 and since then, it has gained incredible popularity. Of 500 million people using Instagram, 58% of users that were on the lookout for a new trend or brand actually visited a website to buy a product or service after viewing it in Stories. In fact, Instagram Stories are posted more often than feed posts by influencers since they were introduced. And about 4 million businesses promote their brands on Instagram Stories every month.

Instagram stories help in interactive and engaging with fitness brands

Stories appear right on top of the main feed on the Instagram page and have a lifespan of 24 hours. This creates a fear of missing out, or FOMO, and makes sure viewers check out your story for the day! Additionally, there are many interesting tools and stickers to customize a story like custom filter sliders, stickers, emojis, GIFs, texts, text formats, polls, adding a piece of background music, boomerangs, AMAs (Ask Me Anything), and tons of other cool effects to promote your business creatively while also making it more interactive.

Instagram stories can be used to allow a sneak peek into a photo/video to be posted, behind the scenes pictures and videos, personal stuff, upcoming events, product launches, exclusive discounts, redirect to new feed with ‘new post’ stickers and other content that excites and engages your audience.

Fitness studios and personal trainers can try these ideas with teachable moments, success stories of body transitions, and more by being a little more imaginative to attract more eyeballs.

5.  Create Instagram Story Highlights

A more recent feature that also draws close attention while someone’s going through your profile bio is your story highlights. They appear just underneath the profile bio section and over the regular feed. These are a collection of photos, videos, and other posts that you posted to your Instagram story in the past. But, unlike Stories that stay for a duration of 24 hours, Highlights stay on your profile, unless you want to remove them. This curated collection works as albums depicting different categories or topics. Using this section of highlights wisely by mentioning the ‘highlights’ of your fitness business is a good opportunity to encourage follower engagement.

Make separate highlights to showcase different aspects and highpoints of your fitness business. This way, whoever visits your profile might get a glimpse of your business even if they do not scroll through your entire feed.

What should you put on Instagram highlights for fitness?

  • Studio insights
  • Classes
  • Workout videos
  • Your community
  • Nutrition
  • Events
  • Challenges
  • Transformations
  • Announcements
Ideas for Instagram story highlights for fitness professionals

Using Instagram story highlights effectively will add a whole new dimension to your fitness business profile and bio. With limited content, you can display tons of information about your business or studio and guide your target audience to get glued to your Instagram account!

6. Use smart and catchy hashtags

If uploading photos on Instagram is one side of the coin, then adding hashtags to the posts is the other side. It is a unique way of reaching your target customers and the potential customers finding you. Hashtags also help in sorting and categorizing photos according to content to make them more discoverable.

For someone in a fitness business, most of your images would be of people getting in shape, yoga postures, trainers instructing clients, etc. Try using smart hashtags along with your photos, like #fitness #yoga #getfit #youcandoit #healthybody, etc. Simultaneously, using a few popular hashtags of ongoing trends, using uppercase and lowercase in hashtags, etc., could help your post gain maximum traction.

Instagram hashtags make your fitness brand more discoverable

Here are a few popular Instagram hashtags of 2020

1. #love (1.824B posts)

2. #instagood (1.143B posts)

3. #fashion (807.1M posts)

4. #photooftheday (792.4M posts)

5. #beautiful (657.4M posts)

6. #art (643.6M posts)

7. #happy (576.9M posts)

8. #photography (575.9M posts)

9. #picoftheday (569.4M posts)

10. #cute (564.9M posts)

11. #follow (557.8M posts)

12. #tbt (534.5M posts)

13. #followme (526.4M posts)

14. #nature (520.7M posts)

15. #like4like (515.0M posts)

16. #travel (494.6M posts)

17. #Instagram (475.6M posts)

18. #repost (469.1M posts)

19. #style (469.0M posts)

20. #summer (452.4M posts)

Please do not limit your hashtags to photos alone; use them on videos, stories, boomerangs, etc. Instagram also provides sticker hashtags and a few trending sticker hashtags to paste into a story. Use this '24 hour story spotlight' wisely because the stories appear right on top of your page, and people like to check out 'what's going on?' You could give a short teaser of an upcoming event.

Also, remember, popular hashtags keep changing with time. So keep track of the latest trending ones while you upload an image and edit newer hashtags into your older uploads to stay in context!

All the while keeping an eye out for banned hashtags. If banned hashtags are used, then the content you share would not show up on users’ feeds. This typically happens when Instagram bans certain hashtags because the posts that have used them go against Instagram’s guidelines - either it’s because people are posting inappropriate content, or the posts could be from fake accounts or bots, etc. So when you’re using popular hashtags and your content is still not getting the kind of organic reach that you would want, check if you might have used shadow-banned hashtags.

7. Tag relevant people in your photos

Apart from using hashtags, you can also use the tagging option to gain more mileage on your fitness posts. Tag people, organizations, and places that are relevant to your business and brand. Location tags or geo-tags are essential for people to discover you or feel attached to your brand. If you start a fitness event and use a location tag, it is more accessible to your target customers to find you and relate to the place with their personal experiences. Use tags on your photos and videos and also on your stories.

Another vital aspect to adding tags on images is “image alt text”. In simple words, alt text or alternative text is the description of the image and displays when an image fails to load on a webpage. Using alt text on Instagram helps users with visual impairment to use the platform with a screen reader, hence making the platform accessible to all. However, adding image alt text has more benefits than one. It helps in content optimization and SEO giving your website more viewer traffic. So, when someone searches for posts in Instagram’s ‘Explore’ section related to your niche or subject of fitness, for instance, there are higher chances that your posts reach the right audience.

8. Schedule Posts wisely

Schedule your Instagram posts with a scheduler to save time and optimize content delivery

After you put a hundred percent effort into taking a picture, editing it, using relevant hashtags, and posting it, you would want your post to get maximum traction. For that to happen, you need to thoroughly analyze the timings of your posts.

Apart from freeing up your daily work routine, scheduling your social media posts in advance and keeping in mind the timezones of your fitness audience help in increasing engagement. So, scheduling your posts according to the times when your target audience is most likely to be active helps in optimizing posting times. Use a social media scheduling tool like Buffer or others to filter out the best times of the day to post.

9. Increase your following

There are multiple ways of increasing your followers. Some come to you organically. For others, you have to create conditions to reach you. For a start, post consistently. Go after your potential customers and make them feel your presence. Go to their profiles - follow, like, and share their posts, probably drop in a comment appreciating their posts. You might yet get a follow back.

To make the Instagram account of your fitness studio or business, make sure you connect Instagram with your website or any social media accounts that you are active on. This allows your followers from other platforms to find you with ease and follow your Instagram content.

Other options are using influencer marketing, which is in popular demand now. But indeed, it comes with a price. Choose your fitness bloggers and influencers with high engagement value to get the right response for your brand.

In the context of building a large following, also be wary of some deceitful accounts that offer paid followers. It might look boastful to have a million followers on your Instagram account, but these shortcuts won’t take you too far. Even if you pay for the numbers, you certainly can’t buy active engagement. Worse, Instagram might flag or ban your profile.

That’s definitely not the kind of social media popularity any business would want, not to mention losing one’s credibility.

10. Switch to a Business Profile

Switching to an Instagram business profile open many opportunities

To further your ambition for an active presence on Instagram, you might as well switch your fitness studio account to a business profile. Not only is it free to get an Instagram business account but there are loads of other features to skyrocket your fitness studio growth. Business profiles get upgraded access to data and analytics, information about the business’s reach, impressions, and activity. Business accounts also have deeper access to Instagram ads, add links, and also post shoppable content, and more.

Social media can work wonders for your fitness business if used creatively. Instagram is one platform that largely provides the space for humanizing content during an increasingly AI-centric time. Whether you are a new fitness studio or want to revamp your brand, you can quickly drive massive engagement through Instagram and get organic traffic to your website, absolutely free. It is all about strategizing - be it a new user or a seasoned pro! Build a loyal community of followers who also transform into your customers in time by delivering the right blend of video content on fitness and your brand.

If you’d like to grow your fitness or wellness studio but find yourself swamped with your operations, we’re here to help! Find out how Omnify can help you automate and streamline your workflow and allow you to focus on growing your business today. Start your FREE TRIAL today!

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Related Readings:


Build a strong online presence for your fitness studio with this comprehensive guide to Instagram marketing with simple, yet time-tested tips!

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