Gym Chains Use Facebook to Capitalize on New Year’s Resolutions

As 2010 gets underway, so does the pursuit of perhaps the most popular New Year’s resolution of all: to get in shape. Consequently, several major gym chains have seen an uptick in traffic to their Facebook pages this month, so we figured it would be a good time to look at a few of them and see the strategies they’re employing to capitalize on that traffic.

The four gym pages reviewed — Gold’s Gym, Bally Total Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and Life Time Fitness — are U.S. chains with locations across the country.

Pages generally conveyed the same message but the specific differences in how each used Facebook to engage users was important, especially when it came to the apps they promoted. These pages emphasized special deals, highlighted how their gym fit a user’s needs and pushed users towards their primary pages in fun and interesting ways and the apps gave users a measurable feel for how much the gyms would care about their fitness.

Gold’s and Bally prominently promoted Facebook on their main sites and 24 Hour Fitness promoted Facebook at the bottom of the page; Facebook was difficult to find on Life Time Fitness’ page. For reference, the number of fans, approximately: 24 Hour Fitness 41,100, Gold’s Gym 32,800, Life Time Fitness 14,800 and Bally Total Fitness 9,300.

Each page had the same basic info: membership, events, locator, a Wall where fans shared info, Photos including tours of some facilities, member success stories, including a place to upload your own story on Bally’s page.

Apps

Several of the gyms featured workout-related apps on their Facebook pages on tabs and boxes that performed an array of functions; Life Time Fitness did not offer an app, but did stress the use of Foursquare for its members when they’re at the gym.

Bally’s “What Gym Personality Are You?” quizzes the user with fun questions about food, music and workout preferences, suggesting inviting friends to the quiz and then requesting you to publish the results on your wall — potentially moving some traffic to the Facebook page if quiz results are published to the stream, or the user adds a Bally badge or becomes a fan. But, the app doesn’t retain the user’s interest after the quiz and likely wouldn’t continue to generate traffic.

Gold’s Gym and 24 Hour Fitness invested much more in their apps.

Gold’s “My Strength” is a fairly basic app that helps you create a fitness goal with specific numbers (e.g. minutes, pounds), share that goal with your Facebook friends and log your progress by uploading a photo, friending users with similar goals and recruiting “supporters” for your fitness goal. Gold’s Gym also offers “Tough Love,” an app similar to “Super Poke,” in which the user selects different types icons, such as a six pack or pep talk, to send to their friends’ Walls, an app that could likely be used repeatedly and continue to create traffic.

However, the most comprehensive and engaging app was 24 Hour Fitness’ “Get Fit Motivator.”

The app allows users to choose general goals such as, “Get Bikini Ready” or “Tighter Abs,” select a target date, set up goal reminders, commit to the goal by sharing with friends, find a mentor from among 24 Hour Fitness’ trainers on Facebook and create a step-by-step plan of your own, or select one already created.

Get Fit Motivator also includes a journal, allows you to post photos of your progress and includes a graph representing the user’s progress. One may also have more than one goal at a time that you can share with your friends by placing a box on your profile page.

In other words, it’s an application that reminds you and your friends it’s there, encourages journaling, gives you a visual reminder of your progress and fosters community involvement, all things that contribute to one user coming back to the app, if not anyone in the user’s network.

Free Passes and Specials

All four gyms had a free 7-day pass deal for people to try out their facility and by and large this feature was included as a tab on each page, with the exception of Bally, which hid this feature as a box at the bottom of its profile page. Facebook users go to the gym’s primary page after clicking on the offer and are prompted for personal information to obtain the free pass. Such offers are a good way to build up traffic on the main site, as well as get people in the door to sign them up for service contracts.

24 Hour Fitness takes this to the next level, explicitly stating on their Facebook page that members who become fans of the page are eligible for “exclusive content and cool offers,” for example recently holding a contest for nine fans on January 13 for ten free personal training sessions with the winners selected at random from the Wall. In that contest, though, it required users to post to the Page’s wall, which appears to be a violation of Facebook’s guidelines.

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3 Responses to “Gym Chains Use Facebook to Capitalize on New Year’s Resolutions”

  1. The Best Medical Plan « Reynolds Performance says:

    [...] Gym Chains Use Facebook to Capitalize on New Year’s Resolutions (insidefacebook.com) [...]

  2. Jeremy Bronson says:

    Thank you for pointing out the promotions that violate Facebook’s guidelines. Too often, the quick and clever Facebook promos that get attention turn out to be violations that never should’ve happened or at least shouldn’t be praised. It’s good to at least point out the violations even if Facebook lacks the resources to police them.

  3. AmandaD says:

    Why, oh why, oh why…. Does everyone seem to miss the benefits of the online gyms (at least the good ones!) that beat the benefits of the Wii Fit AND the household chores into a cocked hat?!

    The best of them is VirtualGym TV (www.virtualgym.tv), which incidentally was also the first to receive the Change4Life honors some considerable time BEFORE Wii Fit.

    Worth a look if you really don’t like the traditional gyms…

interested in advertising with inside facebook?

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