Ben Coomber is a qualified Nutritionist and the owner of online nutrition and education company Body Type Nutrition. He also owns and operates a number of other businesses including a transdermal technology business, a weight loss coaching programme for women called Ditch the Diet, and a strength and performance facility called Suffolk Strength Academy. Ben hosts the UK’s leading health & fitness podcast, ‘Ben Coomber Radio’, which is downloaded over 100,000 times per month. He has been featured in a number of high profile publications including Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness and Muscle & Fitness.
What tips would you have for up and coming nutritionists and PT’s that want to a strong presence on platforms like Facebook and Twitter?
Have Personality and Be Yourself
Be interesting, be consistent, be real, be honest, be yourself. Where you can, and if you’re confident to, put yourself out there on video or audio, because that allows you to connect with people in a much better way than the written word. If people can see your face, your gestures, and how you act, they can resonate with you a lot quicker.
Follow The Trends
To a degree you’ve got to follow the trends. What’s hot in social media is often hot because people are paying attention to it, so you should be using platforms like Snapchat and Instagram.
Use Facebook Video
I would argue that the most powerful media for a marketer is currently Facebook Video, and Facebook has geared its algorithm to really promote that. If I look through my news feed right now, all I see is video.
Facebook is still the most interactive and engaging platform, and people are still very engaged in using it. They’re skipping through ads to see content from people they follow. If such a powerful platform is putting more emphasis on video, you need to do more video.
Twitter is no longer very effective
These days I’d probably argue that you won’t get anywhere on Twitter because it’s not really a native platform, and its kind of dying because of how people are using it. Business owners are just going on and posting links rather than using it as a short communication tool. Plus, the sheer volume of users has made it harder to get noticed.
But lots of journalists are still on Twitter
However, one big advantage of Twitter is that journalists still hang out on there. At the time when I was growing my business I was quite active on Twitter and found that lots of journalists used to hang out there. They were looking for contributors and constantly on the lookout for great information. Journalists aren’t on Facebook because it’s a personal place, whereas they can easily dip in and out of Twitter.
Reassess your Strategy Every 3 Months
Social media changes every 3-6 months, so you should reassess your strategy every 3 months. If you see a decline in one channel you can act appropriately. Everyone in the self-employed space can’t just be a practitioner of their trade, they have to be a practitioner of business.
How would you describe your own online presence and approach to social media?
I kind of have a personal mission statement: “To be the voice of reason in health and fitness and inspire people with their own journey.” There’s an awful lot of BS in the fitness world, and people are being bombarded by conflicting information. I pride myself on being the middle ground in fitness and not preaching any extremes. You have to get the basics right to be healthy. We do all this health and fitness stuff not just to look good, but also to feel good. We engage in fitness to enhance our lives, whilst still incorporating this into being sociable and enjoying everything else in life.
In terms of my approach, I aim to be real, humble and approachable. I believe that the people who follow my work need to see my true character. This means that you need to be vulnerable. Most of the content on social is very glorified rather than being real. No one is getting to the bottom of problems. I try to speak to the people rather than use my ego to project a message.
On a separate note, how do you feel about the explosive growth of the budget gym sector?
I think the budget gym sector will force the middle ground to be perceived to have more value. Some budget gyms are run very well – they are what they are. Quite often gyms in the middle ground have better facilities and customer service, and people will start to realise where the value actually lies.
I go to a ‘middle ground’ gym, and don’t believe I would get the same level of facilities or service in a budget gym. Gyms are like any business; if it’s run badly and customers aren’t engaged, they will lose customers.
Most gyms have a massive problem retaining both customers and Personal Trainers, because the management doesn’t do enough to retain them and just focuses on the numbers. When I was a PT in a gym, I was just another number. They didn’t care about the quality of the PT sessions or educating the PT’s. I stayed in that gym for 5 weeks. However, when a gym gets this right, its golden. I would happily sit down and discuss this with managers in gyms, because I don’t think they’re doing enough to look at what’s happening on the ground.
If you could see one change in the health and fitness market over the next five years, what would it be?
I’d like to think that the fitness industry as a whole becomes a bit less extreme and that we stop selling things on broken promises and dreams of abs.
There needs to be much more of a health component. Everyone is selling a quick fix, a shortcut, they are giving in to what the consumer wants. This is great for short term business, but bad for long term business. You need to educate consumers over time, doing the right thing by your values and turning them into life long customers, not 1 month customers. Be the change you yourself want to see in the world and your industry.