How Social Media Can Benefit Your Gym

For Gym Operators

How Social Media Can Benefit Your Gym

Social media can be a fun and effective tool for promoting your business, connecting with members, and sharing information.

The major social media platforms are free and simple to use, but that doesn't mean they should be used injudiciously. Before you start posting, beware: a negatively received social media post can haunt a business for a long time. Here's how to avoid missteps and build a social media following that benefits your health club.

The following is a summarization of an education session from the 2013 IHRSA Convention, produced with full permission from IHRSA. The full-length video is available for purchase at ihrsastore.com.

About the speaker

Garrett Felix is the Information Security Officer at MediFit Corporate Services.

Don’t Let a Tweet Make You a Twit

Social Media Platforms

There are many, many social media platforms to choose from, but you will most likely see the largest payoff by using one of the following:

Facebook

Facebook has over 100 million users in the United States alone and continues to grow every day. It offers businesses a lot of reach in terms of their target audience and can be a great platform to generate awareness and interest in your brand and facility.

To avoid missteps, keep track of any changes to Facebook's privacy settings. Sometimes these settings change without notice. Having incorrect privacy settings can expose posts that weren't supposed to be available to everyone.

When using Facebook, keep in mind that you don't necessarily see everything that happens to your posts, such as resharing shares. Be careful about what you post and who it is aimed at.

Twitter

Twitter allows you to "tweet" messages up to 140 characters long. It's a quick and easy way to stay connected with your community. Retweets are quickly seen by followers, so always double-check every message before tweeting. Tweets are not editable and hashtags can greatly increase exposure.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional social media platform. People sometimes tend to post company confidential information on LinkedIn – avoid doing this. Also keep in mind the tone of the content that you post on LinkedIn. As a career networking site, LinkedIn may not be the most appropriate channel for some of your more funny or casual content. Use your best judgment.

Privacy Issues

Some companies demand to see information about employees’ social media accounts. This has brought privacy issues to the forefront. California became the first state to endorse a comprehensive social media privacy law which stipulates that employers cannot force employees to reveal their social media information. Subsequent states have adopted this approach.

How Is Social Media Defined In Privacy Legislation?

This varies by legislation (enacted or proposed). In California, “social media” means an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or internet website profiles or locations.

Some common exceptions to this law include the relevant investigations of wrongdoing and employer-owned equipment monitoring.

Privacy Law Points

The law in California prohibits an employer from requiring or requesting that an employee or applicant for employment do the following:

  • Disclose a username or password for the purpose of accessing personal social media.
  • Access personal social media in the presence of their employer.
  • Divulge any personal social media.

It also prohibits an employer from discharging, disciplining, threatening to discharge or discipline, or otherwise retaliating against an employee or applicant for not complying with a request or demand by a violating employer.

Other states vary significantly but the key point remains that requesting access to social media accounts for employment decisions is a privacy concern.

Federal legislation is pending, but not yet acted upon. Many EU member countries have already implemented laws providing additional privacy protection for employees and applicants. The overall recommendation is to tread carefully when it comes to issues of privacy and social media.

Having a social policy is important but it cannot prohibit protected speech, such as posts about workplace conditions and fear of retaliation.

Nature of the Use of Social Media

Below are some appropriate uses and processes that can be implemented in regards to social media:

  • Informational/marketing distribution
  • Entertainment
  • Recognition - make sure members approve of this recognition first
  • Instructional - how has the content been vetted? Is it original or linking to another source with credit?
  • Have an approval process for posts
  • Hijacked social media accounts can have a significant impact on your business. It puts your brand at risk. If you have a device that you use to update a social media account that is comprised, change passwords and unauthorize these devices immediately.

Promotions via Social Media

All promotions must be managed through a third-party app. You must not use Facebook features or functionality (likes, comments, shares) as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. Facebook features and functionalities such as the “like” button can’t be used as a voting tool in a promotion. Understand the laws regarding contests, sweepstakes, and social media.

Guidance for Social Media for Both Employees and Employers

Make use of privacy settings in Facebook. Decide who you want to see your posts. Review tagged posts so you can monitor what's being said about you. Limit past posts and use secure browsing. Require a security code for new connections. Screen your pages for terms and words that you don't want to appear on your page.

Employees should not use their personal accounts for business purposes with or without your permission. Good intentions can have really bad results. Their information can appear publicly and damage the brand or associate things with your brand that you may not necessary want associated.

With some planning and careful implementation, social media can be a powerful tool and a boon to your business. 

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