How to build a Facebook community that provides serious ROI

Scott Baptie is a physique and sports nutritionist who specialises in helping people lose fat, build muscle and improve their sports performance. In addition to running Food For Fitness, Scott provides nutrition advice to many multinational companies, professional football clubs, presents on the subject of sports nutrition and contributes to a wide range of fitness publications both as a writer and fitness model, such as Men’s Fitness, Men’s Health, Esquire magazine and Maximuscle. He also writes a monthly column for The Press & Journal At the heart of Scott’s strategy has been Facebook, through which he has developed a combined community (through two pages) of over 50,000 highly engaged fans. We spoke with Scott to find out how he’d built this community and the impact it has had on his business.

When did you first start using Facebook as a marketing tool and how has your approach evolved over that time?

“I started out with a Facebook page for my clients where I’d just answer questions and post a bit of information that I thought they’d find useful. It became more sales orientated over time as I realised it could be used as a platform for promoting great products. However, as Facebook updated their algorithm and devalued links to what it perceived as low authority domains, it became really difficult to get any meaningful exposure for that kind of post. Consequently I decided to focus exclusively on providing awesome content from trusted sources that I thought keen gym-goers would find useful.

Shortly after creating my first Facebook fitness page, I also launched a page for my company foodforfitness.co.uk. The target audience for this page is much broader but the basic principle of focusing on great content has absolutely remained the same.”

 

What would you say has been your key to building such a large yet engaged fanbase?

“There has not been one specific tactic. After all, even if you do find something that works, sooner or later Facebook will just update their algorithm and suddenly it won’t have the same impact!

That said, there have always been three consistent themes to my content:

  • – Put yourself in the readers’ shoes – I always try to view the content from the user’s perspective rather than my own. I ask myself the question – “If I were following this page would I engage with this content?” If the answer is “Probably not” then that content doesn’t get posted.
  • – Mix it up – I always vary the style of content, from images, videos, infographics, transformation stories and quotes. You can’t expect people to stay engaged if you always bombard them with the same stuff.
  • – Get personal – a lot of companies communicate in a formal, corporate manner and it just doesn’t work. You’ve got to talk on the same level as the reader, as if they were right there with you”

 

Many fitness pages achieve their engagement through simple imagery with either funny or inspirational messages. You, however, deliver much more detail in your updates. Which path would you advise people in the fitness sector take and why?

“I really wouldn’t recommend relying on the funny meme route. It may get a few likes and shares but you’ve done nothing to build your credibility or trust with that person. It’s quick and easy but in my opinion does very little to build meaningful relationships with your audience. You’re better off concentrating on adding real value.

A lot of it comes down to the nature of your business but for me it’s all about actually helping my clients. This also means avoiding extremism. Making bold (or negative) statements may get a few cheap shares but it does nothing for building your brand. I believe in well substantiated, evidence based and balanced formation. It may not sound exciting but it’s the reason that when I offer my opinion, people listen.”

 

Have you been able to attribute a measurable ROI to your Facebook page?

“We track the source of each new customer and Facebook is consistently a major contributor. It’s not just the direct benefit though, but the impact it has on the conversion rate for other channels. Social proof is a powerful force and if people see that others like them – or ideally their friends – are connected and engaged with my pages then it has a huge impact on their decision making.”

 

Posted in Digital Marketing, Gyms & Clubs, The Fitness Network.
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