A large following definitely helps. The more people who are listening to you on social media, the easier it’ll be to start and grow a business.
But is it absolutely necessary?
In fact, most of the time people who are focusing on growing their social media following are not focusing on building a good product or service. And that’s completely backward.
When you have a really good product or service, your social media following takes care of itself. It grows on its own.
This is what you see with the best companies. They’re not putting all their time and resources into social media content; they’re putting it into their product or service.
When they do invest in content, it’s to directly support that product or service.
I know people who have 100,000-plus followers on social media who are waiting tables on weekends to make ends meet. I also know people with just 500 Facebook friends and no other social media who are making $50,000-plus per month as online personal trainers.
So does a big social media following help? Like I said, yeah, it can make things easier.
But it is not necessary.
Why you don’t need a large social media following to be an online trainer
Most of the really important work when starting and growing a business happens behind the scenes, not out in public on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok.
Most of the stuff you see on social media is smoke and mirrors. To be completely honest with you, most of the stuff I do on social media is procrastinating from doing my actual work.
My entire business—millions in sales, nearly a dozen years invested, 30-plus staff members—it’s all built on our products and services (and people talking about them because they’re so good).
It’s built on reputation. It’s built on relationships within our industry. And all that is behind-the-scenes work.
If you were to just copy our website and our social media accounts, you would have all the window dressings for our business, but you still would not have a very good business. You would not have that behind-the-scenes stuff, which is so important.
So all that being said, let’s talk about what is important when it comes to social media and how to optimize your following, whether it’s thousands of people or hundreds.
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Three steps to promote online personal training on social media
1. Make your social media accounts personal and appealing
Put a face on your business, not a logo.
Use an appealing photo of yourself in your profile. People don’t interact with brand accounts as much as they do with personal accounts. Brand accounts are much harder to sell from.
I understand you may want to build a big business and brand with multiple products and people working for you, but that’s a long game. When you’re just starting out, build your business around you.
Also, check out the advice in our article on how to promote personal training on Instagram (without getting half-naked).
2. Capture your mission
Underneath that appealing profile photo, have some sort of headline or brief caption that summarizes:
- what you do
- who you target
- why potential clients should care
Put that in your status and across all your social media channels.
3. Include a call for action
In plain view on every social media account, you should have a call for action—a link that people can click on to ask a question, get more information, fill out an application, make a booking, or otherwise connect with you.
And that’s it. It’s literally as simple as 1-2-3.
How to attract social media followers as an online personal trainer
Next step: Engage in communities with your ideal people.
Remember the guy I mentioned earlier—the one with 500 Facebook friends who’s bringing in $50,000+ per month?
Just about all of that is profit. He has very few expenses. He doesn’t advertise, and he doesn’t invest a lot in content. So how does he do it?
The reality is that even just a few hundred followers is a lot of people.
Imagine you were standing on a stage giving a talk to an audience of 250. If you were scared of public speaking, you would be petrified because that’s a lot of people.
The size of some trainers’ social media following can warp our perception of how many people we need to reach to be successful. If you fill your social media accounts with ideal leads and use them effectively, even 250 can be enough.
Here’s another example: Avigayil, who is our lead customer advocate, has a side hustle where she does brand strategy and copywriting for conscious brands.
She’s done an unbelievable job. In a month or two she has 300 Instagram followers. This is a new account that she set up with those three things I mentioned earlier.
All she does—her marketing time—is create one post on Canva. It takes her two minutes.
Then she researches small eco brands that could become her customers one day. Then she goes to their Instagram pages, interacts with them, and follows them.
She reviews their products in her stories. And—this is important—she interacts and engages thoughtfully.
And what do you think happens? These brands follow her back. Then they see what she’s doing and reach out to her about her business because they like her and notice how thoughtful she is.
And that’s how you do social media. It has nothing to do with a lot of people listening to you just blast stuff up into the ether.
What actually matters is that you’re engaging with the right people in small amounts in very thoughtful and purposeful ways every day.
Avigayil has built a really nice business this way, and so can you.
Most of social media is smoke and mirrors. It just is.
It’s the quality of what you’re doing, not the quantity of people you’re reaching that makes the difference.
Learn more: Get answers to more online trainer questions.