Trust the Locals
Tony Saucier is the Director of Social Media at Life Time Fitness. Life Time Fitness currently has 114 health and fitness clubs across the U.S. and Canada. In addition, they offer athletic events, like the Miami Marathon they just hosted, as well as digital online-only products (planning tools, workout videos, connections to personal trainers and registered dietitians, etc.)
Life Time Fitness gyms are quite large, ranging anywhere from 10,000/20,000 to upwards of 200,000 square feet. This bigger space is used not only for exercise equipment, but to include group fitness classes, personal training, a spa, a cafe with a full menu, and an activity center for kids. Because each gym strives to be such an all-inclusive hub, Life Time Fitness has social media channels at the individual club level, as well as at the brand level.
At the brand level, Life Time Fitness has a team of five and is on all of the big social media channels. They chose Facebook to house individual club pages because it had the most robust offering in terms of being able to host video and photo and show nested comments. Each individual club has its own Facebook page.
These “club Facebook pages” increased conversion exponentially when they were introduced. (For Tony, conversion is the number of engagements per thousand impressions.) Tony’s social media team supports one “social media champion” at each club who then creates content for that club’s Facebook page. That’s 114 additional members of the social media team at Life Time Fitness!
These “champions” are not social media experts; they are group fitness instructors, personal trainers, and member service specialists. In other words, they know the market and the members, so they know what’s relevant. On a yearly basis, they create 35,000 to 40,000 pieces of original, customized content.
The team members overseeing the national and local channels communicate with each other content that’s going to pack the most punch. The national team sends things to the local level that they know are doing well from an engagement standpoint. But the editorial control lies with the local team to decide, “Well, I appreciate that you guys at corporate came up with that, but really, the members want to know about squash this week. So I’m going to hold off on talking about that group fitness thing.” The local team members know their member base best, so they are given autonomy to make the final call.
On the flip side, the local pages are Tony’s “petri dishes” for content that’s really going to resonate. When something gets a lot of traction, he picks it up, tweaks as needed, and shares at the national level. Some of the biggest wins come from the unplanned, organic content created by team members or customers and then shared.
Tony doesn’t treat acquiring new members through social media marketing as the bottom line. To him, the purpose of their social media is “to continue reminding members of all the great things that come with their memberships, and help keep them coming back.” For the local pages especially, it’s more about building a community for the existing members.
Leadership at Life Time Fitness trusts Tony and his social media team to discern where to focus energy and what equals success. With such a large social media team and so much content being produced, Tony has whittled down his measures of success to three things:
1. Native Sharing. (Not just liking or commenting, but re-sharing being Priority #1.)
2. Sign-ups/Commitments. (People saying they want to consume Life Time’s content by downloading an eBook, for example.)
3. Addressing Comments. (Making sure anyone who reaches out with customer services issues or questions are answered directly.)