Show 138 Social Media Marketing Advice for Fitness Professionals with Michael Stelzner
Chantal: Michael, thank you so much for joining us.
Michael : It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Chantal: Now before we even start I have to tell you something. I have become addicted to The Journey.
Michael : Oh my gosh. Thank you. I’m so excited about The Journey. Do you want me to explain what it is for those who are saying, “What the heck is this?”
Chantal: Yeah. Can you tell everyone what it is?
Michael : Yeah. I started this brand new show that people can find at Journey dot Show. It’s an episodic documentary about my business and about the crazy mission that I’m on to try to grow my product 62% year over year and then 100% the year after that. It’s really just a short five to seven minute video documentary every week about the crazy things that I do to try to accomplish the growth of the business.
Chantal: There is just something amazing about watching a behind the scenes. I can’t explain it. It’s like I’m looking into your world.
Michael : It’s not scripted. It’s real.
Chantal: I love that it’s not scripted. It’s just so natural. I can’t stop watching it.
Michael : Then mission accomplished.
Chantal: It’s brilliant. It’s brilliant. Guys, make sure you jump on and not only check out everything else that Michael does but check out The Journey as well because it really is addictive.
Now that’s not what we came to talk about, Michael. We came today to talk about marketing success and how we can improve by refining what works and forgetting the rest. I want to start right from the very beginning because there are so many ways to market a business online and it can be really overwhelming to know where to start. What do you suggest are the first considerations when actually determining your online marketing mix?
Michael : Well, I’m going to make a couple of assumptions here that the people that are listening have some experience with marketing. If you don’t then I’ll just give you a quick little tidbit. If you have no experience with marketing first figure out who in the world you are trying to reach and where they are hanging out online. That’s kind of the starting place.
Assuming you’ve already had a little bit of success, you know who you’re trying to reach, you kind of know where they’re either hanging out in your community physically or where they’re hanging out online, then the next thing to ask yourself is really, “What have I done in the past that works? What have I done in the past that does not work?”
Start there and maybe do a pro/con kind of a chart or success/failure and just write out everything you’ve ever done that’s worked and everything you’ve ever done that has not worked so you can just get it out on the table. So many entrepreneurs and marketers kind of forget that there’s stuff that we’ve done before and we don’t need to keep reinventing ourselves. Instead we just need to go back and think for a little bit about what worked so that we can think about maybe continuing to do it better.
Chantal: That’s a really good suggestion. I think you’re right. I think sometimes we stick to doing the things that we’ve done before because that’s what we know as opposed to really looking at the return on investment and what’s been effective in the past.
Michael : Yeah. I think if I can dig a little deeper into this I find at least in my world and the world of social media we get bright shiny object syndrome. Every time Instagram comes out with a new update or Snapchat or whatever it seems like everybody wants to go all in on this stuff.
What they don’t think about is the consequence of time. We all have a limited amount of it and if we choose to focus on something new that means that we are choosing not to focus on something old that likely works. I see a lot of marketers stuck in this chasing their tail kind of problem where they’re never getting anywhere and it’s because they’ve overlooked the most important part of what their marketing is, which is fundamentals.
Chantal: That’s a really good piece of advice, Michael. Thank you so much. Now when we were talking about this interview the term came up, which was a marketing stopping list. Have I got that right?
Michael : Correct.
Chantal: Can you talk us through that concept?
Michael : Well, let’s think about this from a personal trainer’s perspective. Let’s say I’m a little overweight and I need to lose some weight and I go to the gym and hire a personal trainer. What’s the first piece of advice they’re probably going to ask me? They’re going to ask me, “What are you eating? How active are you?” They’re probably going to come up with a list of things that I ought to stop eating. Am I close to accurate? Or maybe types of behaviours that I ought to stop doing.
If you think about how you normally would work in the health and fitness world and how there are things that we ought to stop doing so that we can accomplish something the same exact thing applies to entrepreneurship and marketing. There are things that we do because we’ve always done it and we always ought to consider calling those things into question.
What I often recommend that people do is … I tell my kids the exact same thing. My kids always want to add a new app to their phone and I say, “Okay, as long as you delete two you can add a new one.” They’re like, “What? I got to delete two? Wait a second. Maybe I ought to think twice before I add in the new one.”
The same thing applies to us. When we’re about to start some new thing. Maybe it’s email marketing, maybe it’s Facebook advertising, maybe it’s Instagram stories, maybe it’s a YouTube channel, maybe it’s a podcast we have to realise that that’s going to take up a limited amount of time that we have every week and therefore to do it right or to do it decently well we must be willing to sacrifice or give something else up so that we can achieve that something new. Does that make sense?
Chantal: It makes total sense. What I’m hearing, Michael, is that more is not necessarily better.
Michael : That’s exactly right. Instead different may be better. That’s the key to everything really. I am constantly stopping things, which is … For example, you talked about The Journey earlier. In order for me to do The Journey I had to take a bunch of stuff off my plate and delegate it to someone else on my team because this journey, this episodic documentary that I’m doing is taking five to six hours a week out of my time to actually just sit with an editor and look over his shoulder and refine this stuff. Not counting the fact that he’s with me filming all the time, which is kind of natural.
That’s five or six hours a week I had to find without giving up on my family life, without giving up on my kids, my health, or anything else. I literally had to cut five or six hours of work off my calendar every day in order to launch The Journey.
Chantal: That’s really interesting you say that because I’m pretty sure I was listening to an episode of your podcast a couple of months ago and didn’t you do the same thing with social media marketing world? You used to have …
Michael : My [inaudible 00:06:38] Adventures Project?
Chantal: Yeah. I vaguely remember you talking about saying you’re having to stop one and then you were starting the other. Is that right?
Michael : I’ve done this so many times. I’ve almost lost count. We have this thing called the Social Media Marketing Society. It was like the iPhone that killed the iPod. If you think about Apple when they came out with the iPhone they knew that it was going to end of life the iPod. Nobody buys iPods anymore because the iPhone does everything the iPod does and more.
The Social Media Marketing Society killed our Society Media Success Summit, which was our online conference. It was intentional and it was by design and we knew that it was going to end of life a different product. It was necessary because the marketing department was getting over-tapped. We had too many products that we were launching at once.
By literally shutting down this significant line of revenue in our business it allowed the entire company to focus on just the core two products that we offer instead of being divided amongst three. The one that was really not being successful anymore that we were seeing declines we just decided to go ahead and just axe it, kill it.
A $700,000 line item we literally said goodbye to. My controller practically had a heart attack. It turned out to be a smart move. As a result, I was able to launch lots of new things. One of them being The Journey.
Chantal: There you go. Well, Michael, I think this is a challenge … It’s an easy thing to talk about but it’s a challenging thing to do because we are constantly being offered up these new platforms to be a part of or new technology that we can take advantage of.
Quite often on our show we talk about how important content creation is and that you’re always putting the message out to the market. This is probably a good reminder to everyone to have a look at, say, the platforms that they utilising at the moment and where they are not. Correct me if I’m wrong, but whether or not it is necessary for them to be on Snapchat and Instagram and LinkedIn and Facebook or if they need to combine and just choose the best ones out of that.
Michael : Yeah, what I tell a lot of people is there’s really two ways to solve this. One way is to stop the things that aren’t working, which is the hardest thing in the world. Nobody wants to stop it. A lot of times when things aren’t working they want to double down on it because they’re convinced they have to make it work. Stop things that you know aren’t working.
We do this all the time. We’re not super active on some social networks and we are very active on other social networks because it just wasn’t accomplishing our mission. Option A is to stop it. Option B is to outsource it. What that means is you can fully delegate it to an agency or an individual or someone inside your company that can do it better than you. Either one of those are fair and adequate.
Most people tend to want to do it all themselves and I think that stopping things is the best thing in the world. It’s the hardest thing to do but the more you embrace your stopping list … Man, I hack things like crazy. I freak out my company because I’m constantly stopping things. We would never be where we are today if we were not doing this pretty religiously at least twice or three times a year.
Chantal: Thank you so much for going into that, Michael. Now quite often for gym owners or fitness professionals, especially those that are just starting out in the first couple years of their business, they don’t necessarily have a huge marketing budget. Can you give us some advice around the best use of social media that they could use to actually market their gym, their products, or their services?
Michael : Yes. First of all, Instagram is the first thing that comes to mind. There is a lot of data that shows that people are consuming Instagram stories at a pretty significant clip. There’s over 500 million active users daily on Instagram and 300 million of them are using or consuming Instagram stories.
Instagram stories, as you probably know, are those little 15 second clips of your day or whatever you want it to be. They’re very simple. I would imagine for a fitness professional or a gym owner showing on Instagram workouts or any kind of progress that you’re making inside your gym on redesigns or any of that kind of stuff would probably work really, really well because it’s super simple. It’s very non-professional. The lighting doesn’t need to be great. You just need to do it.
People are consuming these stories like crazy. Instagram is giving more and more exposure in the Instagram newsfeed to these stories. That’s the setup for another thing, which is generally speaking using video in any kind of capacity. Get comfortable behind the camera. Get comfortable behind raw, true, authentic video.
One really good way to do it is to practise going live. You can practise on Instagram stories. The good news is they disappear after 24 hours. Or you can go ahead and practise on Facebook Live. Those stick around pretty much forever. I’d strongly recommend you get used to interacting with people in a live capacity.
Why? Because it’s okay that it’s not perfect. It’s expected that you’re going to make mistakes. I had a fly in my mouth when I was hiking around [inaudible 00:11:34] once. I just spit it out and everybody laughed and I just kept walking because what are you going to do, right? That’s what people love about it is it’s totally raw, authentic, and real.
Chantal: You know what I love about that, Michael, is that the question that I asked you was about gym owners, fitness professionals, that don’t have a big marketing budget and we’re talking about zero dollars to jump onto Instagram and create videos, which will in turn allow you to really start building your community and building your followers.
Michael : Yeah. There is a huge presence in the fitness world on Instagram. Just look around. You won’t have to look very hard to find people that are doing it well that you can model.
Chantal: Absolutely. Now I could not have Michael Stelzner on the show and not include the words Facebook algorithm somewhere. I think it’s fair to say that the Facebook algorithm feels like it is constantly changing. It’s a big question but are there any strategies or tactics that we can use to keep engaging with our customers and our prospects without having to always use paid advertising?
Michael : Honestly, there are very few. Those few are going to become fewer and fewer in the coming months. Just recently Facebook experimented in five countries with the idea of taking Facebook page content and physically removing it from the newsfeed in totality, moving it to the Explorer tab, which is a tab most people don’t even know exists.
A lot of marketers like myself are saying, “Well, why would Facebook run an experiment if they weren’t seriously considering removing all organic content from the newsfeed?” I think that we have to embrace a future where Facebook advertising may be the only way to get any kind of exposure on Facebook. That leaves us with using Facebook as a customer support vehicle where people are contacting us via Messenger.
It also does currently leave us something to do with live video. Right now Live video is just about the only thing that Facebook gives some pretty substantial newsfeed preference to. We were talking about that on Instagram and we’re talking about it on Facebook. We are seeing declines in live video reach and exposure but it still is pretty powerful.
Now the last thing is the Facebook Watch platform. Facebook Watch is not something you wear on your wrist like the iWatch. Instead it is actually their answer to YouTube or to Netflix. In 2018, they will be rolling out an actual competitive solution to YouTube where you will be able to put episodic shows in what’s called their Watch platform. People can subscribe and every time one of those new episodes come out they’ll get notifications just like you do on YouTube.
If you start thinking about the idea of creating ongoing shows, like I’m doing with The Journey, and start getting your feet wet with working with that it could be an opportunity for you to get some new exposure because the Facebook Watch platform will be integrated into smart televisions and people will start to be watching the content from the living room.
Chantal: Wow. That is absolutely fascinating. At the moment, Michael, for example, I do a fortnightly Facebook Live broadcast for our show. We currently upload that to our YouTube channel. What you’re saying is that what I would do is do that Facebook Live and automatically upload it to Facebook Watch?
Michael : Well, not exactly. Facebook Watch will allow you to create your own show page. That show could be your show or multiple shows that are tied to your page. For example, Mike Rowe, formerly of the TV show Dirty Jobs has a show on Facebook Watch called Returning the Favour. It’s much like a really high production television show.
There are a number of shows right now. I think you can just find it at Facebook dot com slash Watch. They’re mostly high profile individuals that currently have their own shows. These show pages have their own … You follow people there. The episodes are released. They get notifications. It’s already available but it’s really just right now limited content, high production value content.
They will be rolling it out to everyone here in 2018. You would just link … Just like a Facebook groups can be linked to your page you would link this show to your page and people would just follow the show page and get notifications automatically whenever a new show episode comes out.
Chantal: That is huge.
Michael : By the way, you can go Live directly to the show page or you can go Live directly to your Facebook page. Separate entities.
Chantal: Okay. Can you stream to both at the same time?
Michael : Probably with third-party tools but not currently I don’t believe with Facebook.
Chantal: I’m so grateful that you shared that with us, Michael, because I think if you’re talking about this coming to fruition in 2018 then it gives us a really good opportunity to think about what that content might look like. If I’m a gym owner then perhaps it’s about creating a series of exercise technique videos that you can post up there or nutrition-based information, anything like that that’s really good advice tips [crosstalk 00:16:45]
Michael : It needs to be episodic. The idea is it’s got to be consistent, it’s got to be just like television. You know how you said you love The Journey? If people go to Facebook dot com slash SM Examiner and they go under videos they’ll see The Journey but The Journey is the kind of content that Facebook wants in their Watch programme. Does that make sense? It’s kind of an ongoing story every week.
Chantal: Yeah. It’s like a series.
Michael : Exactly. If you think about, “How could I create a TV series that is just going to live on Facebook?” That’s not all that different than what people already do on YouTube channels. The idea is I think the best kind of series are going to be to be continued kind of series.
That’s a little harder to do because you have to be willing to have an X number of episodes and season one and season two and all that kind of stuff but I think that’s where we’re all heading is that we’re going to be creating our own content just like you might find on a cable television channel except people will be watching it on Facebook.
Chantal: Here’s what’s in my mind right now, Michael. That is I’m a gym owner and I’m going to run a 90 day challenge for people to either lose weight or gain muscle. My series could be actually tracking their journey over that period of time. Checking in with them on a regular basis, what are they eating? What are they doing? Similar to your Journey so it’s a behind the scenes of what that person is going through as part of that challenge.
Michael : Yeah. Or pick a person who is on a … Maybe they’ve got a one year goal and maybe their desire is to be in a weight lifting show or a body building show and they’re starting out really in a crazy situation. Just maybe say, “I’m going to produce 15 episodes over the period of six months and we’re going to show the good, the bad, and the ugly and get permission from that person and just take them through the entire journey.”
I think people would love that kind of stuff. We’ve seen that kind of stuff on television. Typically, like condensed down to maybe a one hour or two hour show but this could be split into five or 10 minute episodes over many, many weeks.
Chantal: I am so excited about this. That’s a really exciting concept. Thank you so much for going into that with us today, Michael. I want to say, I said it to you offline when we weren’t recording, but to have you on the Fitness Business podcast is an amazing privilege. You were one of the very first podcasts that I started listening to years ago. Personally, I’m absolutely thrilled and honoured that you would come onto our show.
Thank you so much for joining us, going into that detail, all around teaching us about the marketing stopping list and talking about how we can get onto Instagram stories and start using Facebook Watch. Thank you so much for joining us, Michael.
Michael : It’s been my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Chantal: Okay, everyone, make sure that you do jump on and check out Michael’s podcast, books, definitely check out The Journey because that is sensational. There’s one last thing I want to finish on and that is if anyone wants to dive into more detail around that Facebook algorithm, which we briefly touched on then … Michael, I was listening you did a fantastic show. I’m trying to work out what the show number is. It was called The Facebook Algorithm Explained. That was only recently.
Michael : I can give you a short URL to get to it?
Chantal: That would be brilliant.
Michael : It’s Social Media Examiner dot com slash 274. That will get you directly there.
Chantal: 274. We will of course put that in today’s show notes. Michael Stelzner, thank you so much for joining us on the Fitness Business podcast.
Michael : Thank you so much for having me.
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