You have to look past the pretty pictures. And the goofy memes. And the funny clips.
Picture someone thumbing through IG. They might smile, they might chuckle. They might stretch that thumb across to “like” something.
But they don’t really respond. You don’t see them bringing their other hand up to start typing. Not frequently enough, anyway.
Too often we view Instagram passively. And we post passively.
What we should be doing is using it as a tool to interact, to communicate—and to land clients.
How do you turn Instagram followers into online personal training clients?
Let me ask you a question. What would you rather have:
- 10,000 followers who have no idea who you are
- 200 followers who may want to buy your services
You don’t need a lot of followers. You do need the right kind of followers.
It’s not about numbers. It’s about potential clients. This is a business, remember—not a popularity contest.
So let’s start with the basics …
Make sure your account is set up the right way.
It’s not complicated.
For your photo:
- Show your face.
- Look energetic.
You want to look good, sure, but it’s more important to look like someone a potential client would want to interact with.
Next, your description:
- Show what you do for a living.
- Say why you chose this mission.
- Include a link to learn more or sign up.
Basics, right? You’d be surprised how many people leave some of this out.
Switch from passive to active.
One of our students recently commented in a group that he’d been posting relevant content to his niche for a month, with carefully selected hashtags, but it wasn’t leading to clients.
Okay—besides hashtags, what else had he been doing to bring people to his content? Not much.
This is where we start using Instagram as a tool.
Switch from passive to active.
Stop waiting for them to find you.
Figure out your target audience—the types of clients that you want. Find their groups, find their companies.
And every day (or at least every few days) actually go and interact with those people.
I don’t just mean a quick little post. I mean a thoughtful response.
It amazes me how many Instagram posts have basically no comments.
Fill that empty space!
When you start leaving actual thoughtful comments on accounts—particularly some business accounts—you’re going to stand out.
You know how it feels when someone responds to one of your posts? You get a little jolt of pride or even dopamine—someone cares! And I’ll bet you might follow them back, right?
So starting today, do unto others, okay? If you start leaving comments, trying to engage with others, some of those people are going to follow you back.
Over time, that builds, that compounds. And a following of 200 of potentially perfect clients is way more valuable than the 10,000 you thought you wanted—or your ego wanted, anyway.
When these potential clients start following you—and they will—it’s time to start some dialogues, some back-and-forth.
When this occurs, keep some principles in mind:
- Show some personality.
- Make jokes.
- Show that you’re open for business.
- Engage via DMs to clinch sales.
Here’s a useless comment on someone’s feed: “Totally agree.”
That’s it? C’mon, show some personality. Make jokes.
Share personal stuff—whatever you’re comfortable with—to help them picture you.
Flash some humor. When I make a little joke about pineapple on pizza, suddenly 20 people are arguing about it (which is weird because there’s nothing to argue about: Pineapple on pizza is gross and anybody who thinks otherwise is wrong).
Put some thought and humor into a comment and this potential client will take notice.
Show you’re open for business.
Don’t forget you’re running a business. What good is a sandwich shop with no sign, the blinds drawn, and the door locked?
Likewise, you must let people know that you’re accepting clients. This could come at the end of your content—“Like what you see? Let me train you.”
Or it could be right there in your bio—“Online personal trainer, currently looking for four more clients.”
Or try the “spear” tactic: Announce you’re looking for three new clients to test a new upper-body program, and tell them to DM you if interested.
In other words: Put up your sign, open the blinds so they can see what you’re offering, and unlock that door.
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Engage people in your DMs.
When individuals start responding, engage them via DMs. I think that’s the best way to engage a potential client. And when that exchange starts, remember this:
You have to be interested to be interesting.
This is conversation 101, right? It works in DMs too.
Good engagement means asking a ton of questions. Show you’re interested in them as a person.
Oh, you have a bad knee? How’d that happen? Oh, you’re a skier? Where’ve you been lately? Oh, what’s Whistler like? I’ve always wanted to go.
Soon enough, this person will consider you the most interesting trainer they’ve ever met!
This isn’t cynical. This is business.
You’ll want to figure out what they’ve done before, fitness-wise, or why they contacted you and not somebody else.
All of this occurs before you even pitch your program. In fact, you’ll find that the better you connect, the details of your program become almost irrelevant.
You’re selling yourself, not your program. They buy the trainer, not the training.
So don’t worry about your number of followers. Engage thoughtfully with people in your market.
A lot of them will follow you back, you’ll start building a reputation with them. Initiate relationships using relevant content but also with personality.
People will connect with you based on the uncommon commonalities that you share.
Yes, Instagram is mostly pictures. But its real potential is in the words.