Anytime Fitness may be the largest, fastest-growing health and fitness franchise in the world, with gyms in all 50 states and Canada (including 24 other countries), but it has an awareness problem with consumers in North America. There are simply so many studios, clubs, and big box fitness options for people to choose from, so how do you rise to the top when people are choosing to join a gym—or considering leaving? We decided to harness on our unique reach by building a Facebook publishing plan that creates a consistent brand message across the entire network (over 2.4 million people), while freeing up each individual location to engage their own community—in addition to our efforts—on a more personal local level. To do this we needed to devise a measurable, consistent, and research-based content marketing plan that produced regular weekly content that meets our goals of acquiring new members, retaining existing ones, and creating a community that everyone would want to join. Ultimately, the social & business impact in one year has been immense!
By leveraging member data, feedback from personal trainers and franchisees, along with search research and health and fitness trends, we developed four Anytime Fitness content pillars within our content marketing strategy that would drive reach, engagement, and our overall business goals of leads and awareness (free trials & Web traffic): Fitness (practical post-weekend or holiday guidance to facilitate action and gym or free trial usage), Coaching (expertise-driven advice to get people on the right track and optimizing their workouts), Connect (playful content to drive emotional connections and fight the mid-week slump, boosting brand loyalty), Community (showcasing successful members, coaches, and communities uniting for good) and Nutrition (small, attainable food tips to encourage healthy habits).
We created a year-long editorial calendar based on seasonal trends and needs, as well as larger brand initiatives, so that all content created for these five pillars would meet our members' and the public's needs at the right times in their health and fitness journey.
We also implemented a new social publishing tool (MomentFeed) to facilitate publishing and account management at the franchise-wide level, and new processes throughout our internal marketing and creative staff to brainstorm, create, publish, and track content with enough notice so that we can adjust if needed and our franchisees can preview the content and remove it from publishing on their Facebook page if it conflicts with something happening at their local level.
Facebook's algorithm was also considered. Quick-hitting, shareable humor content is planned to combat Facebook's tightening algorithm; it fuels the reach of our more hard-hitting brand content.
This has all necessitated a lot of internal collaboration, as well as continual coaching and communication with our franchisees so they could learn the new process and tools, weave aspects of mass publishing into their gym (via live engagement campaigns), and truly capitalize on the mass publishing plan by incorporating their own supplemental local content.
Five pieces of strategic content are now being published every week across all USA and Canada Anytime Fitness Facebook pages.
There's no question that our content marketing strategy and Facebook mass publishing plan is working! Anytime Fitness earned a franchise-wide 489% increase in non-paid Facebook Post Reach in 2016 (versus 2015). Total Page Reach increased 43%, un-paid page reach 223%, and engaged users 9%.
Facebook was also our largest driver, by far, to AnytimeFitness.com in 2016, and contributed to total leads (free trial, membership inquiry, and campaign leads) increasing YOY by 56%. Referral traffic from social was up 47% this year, with Facebook being the key driver to our blog as well (which experienced a 22% increase in total sessions this year, despite publishing less than half the quantity of usual monthly posts due to our content strategy shift toward more Facebook graphics and video).
This strategy has produced growth across all measurements for the corporate Facebook page as well—including total page reach (+60%), non-paid reach (+46%), non-paid post reach (+55%) and engaged users (+35%)—despite sharing content with the local pages.
We are also happy to see that those gyms who are adding in their own local content to this mass publishing plan are the best performers on Facebook and within our franchise (across all KPIs), further supporting our emphasis on balanced corporate-created and local content.
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