Thursday, July 31, 2008

Marketing Fitness with Social Media

I have to admit something … I don’t “get” Twitter.

Twitter (if you’re wondering) is a social networking and micro-blogging site. You write mini-updates about your life, week, day, whatever.

You can update every hour or sooner if you want. Each update has to be 140 characters or less, so Twitter forces you to write concisely. In that way, it helps you improve your writing skills.

Apart from that, though, what's the point?

Do people really care that I visited Multnomah Falls near Portland, OR, or that I chatted with Jim Labadie on the phone (these were two of my recent mini-updates, or “tweets” as they’re called in Twitter-speak).

My friend Biray Alsac first told me about Twitter, and so I joined the site as research for my workshop “Beyond a Website: Virtual Tools for Attracting Real-World Clients” (I’ll be presenting it next at the BCRPA conference in October 08).

Biray is on top of how to use Internet technologies in the fitness industry. And since I trust her opinion and expertise, I’m sticking with Twitter for now. I still have a lot to learn.

In the meantime, I wanted to find out how other fitness pros fare with Twitter, so I turned to personal trainer Scott Tousignant of

Scott’s got his finger on the pulse of how to market fitness using social media (like Twitter, blogging, Facebook). Here’s what he told me:

Amanda Vogel (AV): Has Twitter helped you market your business?

Scott Tousignant (ST): Twitter has been one of my favorite and most effective ways to market my business. The connections that I have made through Twitter have been absolutely priceless.

The biggest advantage of Twitter is being able to connect with some big players in the internet marketing industry immediately. There have been colleagues who I've been trying to connect with through email for a very long time and I have not received a response from. The second I send them a message on Twitter, they respond. I have their attention, and we build a relationship pretty quickly.

Another benefit of Twitter is the search function. I can type in a key word like “workout” and see everyone that has made a “tweet” about working out. If the person looks like someone who I would like to connect with, I offer them a quick tip or congratulations on embarking on the fitness journey.

AV: Who follows your updates on Twitter (is it clients or colleagues)?

ST: It's about a 50/50 split. Ideally, you should create two Twitter accounts. One where you give fitness tips and try to connect with clients, and another Twitter account where you try to connect with colleagues.

AV: What about your Twitter-cise social network at, which shows people how to do brief exercises. Does your Twitter-cise network require a lot of upkeep? Has it been a good marketing venture?

ST: Twitter-cise has been a fun little project for me. It's really not much upkeep. It all depends on how much effort you want to put into it and what your other priorities are.

When my wife Angie and I started the community we would shoot four one-minute videos in one day and upload one at a time over the next four days. Total video shooting, editing, and uploading took about 30 minutes for four videos.

Other than that it really isn't much work and has definitely been worth the effort.

AV: Of all the social media marketing tools you use, which is the most useful to you? Why?

ST: My blog is the most useful social media tool and is the hub of my business. When I engage in communication on Twitter, I send people to my blog. When I post a video on YouTube, I send viewers to my blog. When I post something on Facebook, I link to my blog.

The reason my blog has been the most useful is because it provides the best platform to engage with my audience through a variety of media streams like video, audio, and articles.

Also, blog posts can be submitted to all the other social marketing sites and get bookmarked and indexed. You can place your blog rss feeds in your Facebook profile and other social marketing profiles, as well.