9 Steps to Creating a Killer Instagram Strategy for Your Fitness Business

Eamonn Curley
26 March 19
13 min read

Instagram is one of the biggest players in social media marketing and can be vital to boosting your fitness business. As recently as this year, the platform reported more than one billion monthly active users each month, half of whom are active daily.

In addition to its enormous user base, it also boasts an extremely targeted and visual marketing platform, perfect for assembling a faithful, and more importantly, engaged audience. Not only that, statistics show that 80% of Instagram users follow a business account.

So…what does this mean for you?

It means you need to get on Instagram instantly!

In this article, we will guide you through the best tactics for developing your businesses Instagram strategy. We will cover things like identifying your target audience, creating a meaningful plan plus some additional promotional tactics.

Instagram is an essential piece of your marketing strategy, regardless of whether you are a small gym or a large chain of gyms. Word of mouth used to be a sufficient tactic for new member acquisition; unfortunately, in more competitive markets, it may no longer be enough. Instagram is an extremely cost-effective platform that will allow you to not only gain new members but also to keep existing members engaged.

To help you out we have put together 9 top tips for #Instagram #Success!

#1 Switch to a Business Profile

In 2016 Instagram introduced a new feature: the business profile. This gives you access to further tools and features such as Instagram insights, contact information, Instagram adverts and more. Setting up a business profile is super easy if you need any help click here.

  • Instagram Insights: This gives a business all the essential data regarding their account and how their posts perform. This allows users to see which content works best; it also offers a clearer picture of what content is most successful. Insights provide access to your weekly performance statistics – followers, impressions, reach, website clicks, etc. Finally, it offers comprehensive demographics of your followers – down to finer details such as location and times when they are most active.
  • Contact Button: An indispensable element of having a business account is the contact button which allows users to contact you more easily. You can set the button so that they can email you, call you, or you can provide a map with your location.
  • Ability to Advertise:  A business profile will allow you to promote your posts and advertise on the platform, giving you access to amazing means to grow both your reach and your engagement. We will discuss this in more detail further down the article

#2 Identifying Goals & Objectives

The first step in setting your intentions on Instagram is to define what success means to you. Answer these key questions:

  • What are you hoping to achieve through  Instagram marketing?
  • Do you want to build your brand awareness and reach your target customer base?
  • Do you want to display your products and services?
  • Are you trying to create an engaged community?
  • Will you use Instagram to educate your followers about your business, or are you using it as a tool for acquiring new clients?

Instagram can be used in many ways to help you meet your goals which is why it is essential to set clear objectives. Your strategies can then match these objectives. For example, if the aim is to promote a new instructor, then you must target the right audience, and use Instagram to generate buzz and excitement in the lead up to the new instructor coming on. You can use Instagram insights to find your target audience and even promote some posts.

#3 Reach Your Target Audience with Ads

Like most major social platforms, Instagram has a powerful ads platform that allows you to target customer. The platform is driven by Facebooks powerful targeting options, and you can send the same ad across both Facebook and Instagram. The advantage of the Instagram Ad is the stunning visual layout that makes it easy to create ads that pop.

With Instagrams popularity growing and growing, it is becoming an integral part of the overall marketing strategy for any business. American investment bank Jefferies estimates that Instagram will generate $14 billion in 2019 and that while Facebook’s growth rate will dip below 20% for the first time, Instagrams will hit 60%. Other financial experts are predicting that Instagram will contribute at least $20 billion to Facebook’s revenue by 2020. 

Facebook and Instagram statistics chart 2017 to 2020

In our extensive marking guide, The Fitness Marketing Guide for the Modern Fitness Founder, we touched on the powerful capabilities of these powerful platforms. As well as that we advised following these top tips to give you the best chance of success with both Facebook and Instagram Ads.

  • A/B Test your ads until you figure out what combination of copy and creative gets the best results. You can do this with Facebook’s Ad Manager, and they provide an easy to follow guide to help you.
  • Create a promotion for your ad campaign that gives value. An example of this includes Sign Up By 5 pm on Wednesday To Get 2 Free Introductory classes
  • Use good quality images and video. Video is predicted to make up 80% of web traffic by 2021, so it is essential you start implementing it into your ads strategy.
  • And finally, the most critical part of running social media ads is having somewhere the person can go once they have clicked through the ad. Have a dedicated landing page on your website with a clear Call To Action(CTA) where the person can sign up for the promotion in your ad.


#4 Provide Value to Your Followers

Now that you have found your target audience it’s time to engage them! But do you know what kind of content they would like to see? Start by doing some research, what kind of content are your competitors posting? Which posts get the most likes or comments? Start getting a feel for the market and what people want from it. Try several topics/ ideas and see what gets the most clicks and adjust your posting strategy accordingly.

Provide your customers with some value, beautiful pictures are wonderful, inspirational messages are captivating, but do they tell your users the real value of your product? Will consumers know who you are or what you have to offer?

How do you do that?

In the fitness industry, a great tool you can use is sharing before and after photos of your clients who have benefited from your services. Take a look at fitness expert Kayla Itsines’ Instagram account; she habitually shares her client’s success stories on her page. By doing this, she engages her audience, lets them know her product works and creates a real community. Take a look at this example below

Kayla Itsines Instagram showing a clients transformation

Source: @kayla_itsines

Gary Vaynerchuk provides a clear and straightforward strategy for growing your Instagram following in his $1.80 strategy.

This strategy uses a pretty clear concept.

Be social!

So how does it work?

  • Search for the top 10 hashtags in the fitness space
  • Choose the top 9 posts for that hashtag.
  • Leave your two cents, i.e., say something meaningful about the post
  • Do this every day (or as regularly as you can)

This is a fantastic way of building your following in a progressive and genuine way, bringing on long-term followers. Giving your ‘two cents’ means more than asking for a follow/ like or posting a simple emoji, engage with people, say something meaningful about their content and in turn, encourage them to look at your page.

#5 Make a Content Calendar

To maximize reach and to ensure variety, create a content calendar where you schedule the different types of posts you want to share.

For example (this is just an idea, you don’t have to post every day, and of course, it can be mixed up!):

  • Monday: Motivational Quote with the hashtag #mondaymotivation. This can be a quote or even a client story. Remember to align these motivations with your target audiences fears or obstacles. Inspire them to follow you.
  • Tuesday: The fitness industry loves #transformationtuesday and gives you an ideal day to post a customer before and after photo. You could also opt for Tips and Tricks on Tuesdays and offer your clients a good drill, or just a little hack!
  • Wednesday: Share a workout or a workout tip. Post a video from inside the gym and show potential customers what it looks like or gives them an idea of what they will be doing. #workoutwednesday #workouttips
  • Thursday: can be your networking day! Pick a company to cross-promote once a week. This opens the door to potential collaborations and allows you to push existing partnerships. #jointheffort
  • Friday: share a healthy meal option or even a recipe. #healthyrecipeideas
  • Saturday: Interact – perhaps share a customer’s post or ask a question that encourages clients to interact with you. You can simply ask about weekend plans!
  • Sunday: time for a slightly sillier and more light-hearted post. Share a funny Gif or meme related to health and fitness.

#6 Choose Your Hashtags

Fitness trends, workout videos, transformation pictures, meal prep ideas and exercise ideas dominate a large chunk of the content on Instagram. Instagram is a fantastic space to record your fitness journey, to get tips, hints, gain inspiration. To honestly get the most out of it you MUST USE HASHTAGS! This applies to both posts and stories.

Rather than keywords, Instagram uses hashtags. If you want your posts to show up in Instagram’s search, you need to use the relevant hashtags. It is a rapid way to boost your visibility and reach new customers. It’s important to use the correct hashtags for your brand. Instagram recently launched a new feature allowing users to follow hashtags, so make use of this!

You can use up to 30 hashtags on each post, make the most of this number and research the relevant hashtags for your brand. Using numerous hashtags will allow you to reach new customers within your target audience. Search for trending tags in the fitness industry, check competitors hashtags, think of what it is that you are trying to promote. What keywords would people use to find you? Check this list of 51 fitness hashtags to get started.

#7 Build a Community

A key part of your gym marketing plan should be to build a community, and Instagram is the perfect space for this. Interact with people, use call-to-actions to keep followers engaged, host competitions, repost customers photos.

  • Tag people: If you post a photo of a client be sure to get their Instagram user name and tag them. If you work with influencers, tag them, share their posts – but be sure to ask their permission first. You can even post a ‘member of the month.’
  • Engage with other accounts: comment on photos, ask questions, suggest tips. Think of it as virtual networking.
  • Regram!: Share other people’s content. This will help you to create further connections.
  • Utilize call-to-actions: This means asking users to take a specific action, that might be trying a new workout, trying a new class, recipe, etc. Ask for feedback or suggestions find partners, local businesses, friends and offer your followers a reward. This can be done in many ways; you can ask for an answer to a question, or a suggestion for something and pick a winner. Ask people to follow you and your partner and to comment/like/share your post to be entered into the competition. Give away a free class, or a trial week. You will be surprised at how many new followers you will obtain from this.

All of this will not only help to grow your brand, but it will help you to gain loyal followers who will be willing to offer your company continual support.

#8 Use Stories

Profiled as a key marketing strategy in The Fitness Marketing Guide for the Modern Fitness Founder, there is no doubt of  Instagram Stories importance to modern fitness marketing. Since it was launched in 2016 and has taken over Snapchat as the dominant temporary content sharing platform. Every major influencer and brand is sharing an extensive Instagram story nearly every day. At least 2 million brands are using Stories, and a third of Stories viewed are from businesses.

Instagram Stories allows users to post videos and images that last for a 24-hour window. Instagram has cleverly placed stories at the very top of the Instagram feed, giving businesses the chance to get their brand immediately in front of followers. Stories are a fantastic way to create excitement and hype up an upcoming event, a new class, or simply to give them a sneak peak of daily life.

There are endless options with stories like geographic location tagging, hashtags, polls, gifs, stickers, and more, which enables companies to organically boost their followers and simplifies brand engagement.

Instagram Stories allow brands to show themselves off in a more exciting and amusing light. This also makes it easier to humanize your brand.

#9 Create Quality Content

If you are using Instagram to expand your brand or business, building an engaged audience is vital. The most crucial element lies in three simple words: QUALITY INSTAGRAM CONTENT. Take a look below at this example from Glofox customer Fit 7/8.

woman in workout gear jumping in the air

  • Post high-quality photos. This is the most important thing on this list, so if you choose to follow only one rule, follow this. If your feed is an incoherent mishmash of slightly fuzzy photos, it will not draw attention. If you think of every post as a part of a bigger puzzle that teaches followers who you are and what you do, people want to see beautifully curated, thought out content.
  • Research-ready to use templates. There are many tools available to help you create beautiful Instagram posts and stories and don’t require you to be a top-notch graphic designer. Online design tools such as Canva and Spark Post from Adobe are amazingly useful in fashioning engaging content for your feed.
  • Vary your posts by using different formats. Instagram provides a wide variety of different formats, so be sure to mix it up! Create a ‘photo album’ feel with the carousel post that allows you to share up to 10 photos at a time, use video to provide tutorials or demonstrations, and play around with different photo formats and even inspirational quotes. Get creative!
  • This also applies to your text. Some images may need a genuine explanation. Remember the age-old adage: Keep it simple!