Stop using social media for sales and start using it to enhance customer engagement

James Brant is the Social Media Manager for David Lloyd Leisure. James oversees the strategy and implementation for each of their social media platforms as well as the new David Lloyd blog. We met with James to discover how David Lloyd are using social media and how’s been impacting their relationships with clients.


How long have David Lloyd Leisure been using social media as a key part of their customer engagement strategy?

Like many brands we saw the potential benefits of social media and launched our own presence with clear goals for each channel. However, as our target demographic has traditionally been quite mature, we weren’t prepared for the sheer number of people that would want to interact. We soon found ourselves with a significant new audience and realised it would require far more resource and attention than we had anticipated.

It was clear that these emerging channels offered a huge opportunity, so over the last three years we’ve increased our investment in social media significantly. Our audience has broadened and we need to be catering to all aspects of it. Yes, the traditional face to face experience is as important as ever, but social media is now a fundamental part of people’s lives. In short, we need to be doing both brilliantly.

What is David Lloyd Leisure currently using social media for?

The list is pretty big but day to day we use our social platforms for three things; education, motivation and engagement. The David Lloyd Leisure brand is all about developing a healthy and active lifestyle for the entire family – not quick fix solutions with no lasting results – and the content is shaped accordingly.

What’s your strategy for ensuring your content is engaged?

It’s about keeping it relevant and being part of the conversation – not trying to control it. Our regular content reflects what our members are be talking about on specific days of the week, whereas for longer pieces we’ll take a very seasonal approach. We ask what’s going on that our audience will already be engaging with – perhaps it’s the Tour de France, Wimbledon, or the marathon. Whatever it is, we create educational and motivational content around that subject and then ask our audience to share their experiences with the rest of the community. We also try to celebrate our members’ successes; not only does this deliver great engagement but highlights the impact that the clubs have on their lives.

That approach also complements our brand objectives as when people take part in an event such as a marathon we find they’re far more likely to make a permanent adjustment to their lifestyle, and that’s what David Lloyd Leisure is all about.

And what about from a business point of view? Does the blog and social media content really enhance customer retention rates?

Absolutely! We need to be seen as the experts at what we do and this content is critical to that. It also builds a sense of community. Our customers feel like they belong to something bigger than the four walls of their gym and that fosters a great sense of loyalty.

The information also flows the other way too. By asking our customers to share their experience within the gym, it enables David Lloyd Leisure to constantly evolve its offering. If the customers aren’t happy about something then we know about it much faster than we ever did before, and our response needs to be equally quick. The transparency and accountability of social media has forced us to really up our game!

What three pieces of advice would you give to social media managers in the fitness sector?

First of all, get the strategy in place. Identify what platforms you want to be on and for what reasons. There’s lots of information available in terms of what type of person uses each platform and what for, so if these align with your goals then you should start there. If you’re only just considering how to utilise social media, remember your customers have been using these platforms for some time, so take a look at where you and your competitors are receiving the most mentions. That way you know that there’s an audience ready and waiting that have an existing interest in your business.

Secondly, stop thinking that it’s all about generating exposure for the brand among a new audience. This isn’t so much about generating new customers – that will come as users speak more fondly of your brand. Your job is about enhancing the experience of your existing customers so that they become your advocates.

And finally, take the time needed to create great content. Being part of the conversation is better than being absent, but to really deliver high engagement rates you’ll need to provide your audience with a reason to listen. Communicating complicated advice in short pieces of content is an art form, so be prepared to invest the necessary time and effort.


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