Carrie Hill, Pilates and Barre instructor, tells us how she is making social media work for her business

One of our Business Development Executives, Carrie Hill, who is also a fully qualified group exercise instructor of Pilates and Barre, was talking so enthusiastically about the new, cool things she was doing with her Instagram business account, that we persuaded her to write a blog and share some of her experience with us –

“Taking your brand online and building your brand awareness online can be intimidating and overwhelming, but there are lots of opportunities to be had and some rewarding connections to be made.

I finally took the plunge and created my  Instagram business account after years of saying I would, but never getting around to it. I am by no means, ‘a social media expert’, but below are some of the cool tips I’ve learned on the journey so far . . .

First things first, make sure you have a consistent brand presence across all social media platforms, maybe starting with Instagram and Facebook.

  • Create an Instagram business account – it looks no different to a personal account; however you have the wonderful ‘insight’ button which will give you a great overview of how many accounts each post reaches, post interactions on a 7-day or 30-day period and lots more valuable insight that you can use to plan future posts. It even tells you how each post reached your audience, whether it was from their home page (as they were scrolling down their feed) or from hashtags or from your profile.
  • Create a Facebook business page and link it to your Instagram account. I would recommend creating stories and posts on Insta first. That way, when you create your fun Insta stories they will be shown on your Facebook story too. You can do way cooler stories on Instagram, so create them in Instagram and share them to Facebook (when your accounts are linked)
  • Make use of Creator Studio to schedule posts, IGTV, stories (FB only with limited functionality). This enables you to also have a record of posts as well as a virtual upcoming content plan without duplicating if you are a small business.
  • Do you need to do the above if you have your own website? In short, yes, but make sure they link together. Make sure you list your website and your Facebook page on your Instagram account and vice versa. If you have a YouTube channel, link that in too. The chances are your audience will view you and your brand on all platforms, so therefore it’s important to be consistent and active on all. They may book your classes via your website or booking platform, message you via Facebook first with a question, and most definitely have checked out your Instagram account or YouTube for more of a visual or even a taster of your class.

Back to the ‘gram . . .

Get social. Get to know the instructor community around you. That might be other local instructors, or it might be the brand of fitness you teach. Not sure where to find that community? Begin by looking for popular hashtags to follow that are relevant to your brand. For example, I teach Pilates, so one of the hashtags I follow is #pilatescommunity which shows me lots of (but not all) posts which include that hashtag. I teach Barre too, so I also follow #barrefitness. By following relevant hashtags, you can quickly begin to find that wider community.

Hashtags are also important to include in your posts. This is worth some research time. Find out what the most popular hashtags are for the types of group exercise you teach. Start to note them down so you can include them on your future posts. Use the notepad app on your phone. Tip: Don’t use the same hashtags on all your posts. Instagram doesn’t like that kind of repetition. Vary your hashtags just like you vary your posts. At the end of the day, variety is the spice of life!

If you see a post that resonates with you and your brand, Like it and comment on it. Commenting on other posts is a great way to build your presence in the online world. Likewise, if someone takes time to comment on your posts (interaction is ultimately is the goal, right?), make sure you acknowledge their comment and hit Reply! You have more chances of other people commenting on your posts if they can see you’ve actively replied to previous comments, and the more comments the more views/impressions your post gets. Plus, it’s polite.

Plan to post consistently, it doesn’t have to be daily but have a plan of when you will post and what content you will include. Your followers don’t want to know the days and times of your classes on every post, so again, back to variety.

Talking of content, be creative with it and make use of all the Instagram tools you have to play with.  Even if you have no idea how to make a reel, experiment with the function, have fun and the chances are you will end up with something creative to share with your followers. My favourite thing about reels is that you can use music! Literally the best thing in the world for a group exercise instructor.

Another good function to show a taster of your class or even just chat to your followers is Instagram live. Maybe you have something exciting launching soon – go live, build the suspense. If you are launching something or going live on Instagram, use the ‘countdown’ function so followers know when you will be live. You could even just use the countdown function as a reminder of when your class is on. Followers have the option to ‘save’ the reminder.

Don’t forget to tag your participants in posts and stories (check they are ok with that first), so they can reshare with their followers. If not, tag your best friend or your mum. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) – it’s real!

Lastly, you know that really cool feedback you received following your class? Ask if you can reshare it, even if you keep it anonymous. It’s important to share those testimonials with your followers and it might just be the reason the next person books onto your class.

So, to summarise the above, my top tips for Instagram:

  • Business accounts all the way
  • Link your social media up (saves time in the long run)
  • Utilise that wonderful ‘insight’ button, it’s your new best friend
  • Plan your posts
  • Get social and connect to the wider community
  • Learn to love hashtags
  • Unleash your creative side
  • Tag your members and share the positive testimonials”

Thank you, Carrie, for these practical tips, and if anyone would like some in depth info on Instagram Likes, there are numerous articles, including this one by Social Media Today .