Monday, 31 January 2011

Social Media for Member Retention - Strategy tip #1, Listening

Thanks for the e-mails, comments and re-tweets on the Social Media for Retention article here and in Workout Magazine. As mentioned, the golden rule of social media engagement is to plan before you start, rather than jumping in and making it up as you go along.

Since planning and strategy is where a lot of clubs struggle, we want to give you a few pointers, firstly with listening, and secondly on how to identify influencers.

Listening is an important starting point, because it will help to define your strategy, and to find out more about the channels you need to be active on. Most of the tools are free, but you will need to make time to listen. Either assign (or employ) someone to do this, or set some time aside in your work week to do this regularly.

Start with a list of key words, phrases, and brands that you want to listen for. Consider information that would be useful to you to share, comment on, or just hear about. Think about your business, your customers, your partners, suppliers and your competitors.

Now check out some of the tools that you can use to listen to the web. It’s no surprise that Google is a good place to start, particularly Google Reader and Google Alerts. Alerts can be sent to your e-mail, but we use Alerts to listen out for key phrases, and then forward to a feed on Reader which can be reviewed when we’re ready.

There is a plethora of other listening tools; we like howsociable, socialmention, and netvibes to name but a few.

Please comment below if you find this article helpful, or if you find other tools or techniques useful.

Friday, 28 January 2011

(How to use) Social Media for Member Retention

Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter are part of many clubs’ marketing strategy. The focus is often on getting more members. However sites like Facebook can also play a big part in member retention, or getting your existing members more active, more often.

The golden rule of social media engagement is to plan before you start. You should educate, encourage and acknowledge your members on the channels that they use.

Educating is relatively simple; let members know about classes, challenges, events and the like. To get the most from social media and extend your reach you need to identify the influencers and amplifiers among your members. These are the ones who forward invites onto their contacts; both existing members and prospects. Then reward these influencers – a thank you is a good start, and for some members will be all the reward they need to continue spreading the word.

Encouraging members towards their goals and congratulating them on reaching a goal is another great use of social media for retention. While all goals are individual, achieving a goal is something every member can do. Whether it’s visiting once a week for 2 months, running 20k a month, or bench pressing 10 x 100kg, a Tweet or Facebook message saying “well done” goes a long way, especially if 10 more of the members friends ‘like’ it.

Publishing members’ photos when they achieve something (as individuals or as a team) can have a really positive effect. This can serve as a reminder of their achievement, particularly with ‘before and after’ photos. When you ask for a testimonial, ask to take a quick video as well. This reminds the member of the value they’re getting, and strengthens their bond with your club.

Location-based services like Foursquare are a great way of identifying and rewarding members who shout about your club. There’s more to it than the Gym Rat badge (awarded if you visit a gym more than 10 times in 30 days). Acknowledge or reward your ‘mayor’ (user who checks-in the most), and give specials to members based on number or frequency of check-ins.

These are just a few ideas of how to use social media for member retention. Many tools are free (check out Socialoomph, Cotweet, Howsociable), but they take time and resource to manage. Find out more, get some examples, or add your own thoughts as comments below. Most importantly, ask your members which channels they use and what interactions they would like.

This is an extract from Workout Magazine - February 2011

Workout Magazine Feb 2011 - Social Media for Retention

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Member Journey - video

a quick 2 minute video in case you don't want to read the 400 word article

Member Journey - how to keep your members on track

A member journey is for life, not just for the induction. Research shows that the induction is a major factor in retention, but the ongoing journey is also critical.

Many consider the journey to be the induction process, or first 6-12 weeks after joining. When considering your member journey, you should start from the day a prospect first makes contact and plan right through to what happens after the member leaves. If you like, split it into stages, but take in the whole membership lifetime.

Have a few standard new member journeys, for example based on previous workout experience; ‘brand new gym user’, ‘new experienced member’, and ‘returning member’. Each journey should have a number of contact points or milestones to check the member’s progress. Check the member is coming as many times a week as they pledged to and support them with their goals. Think from your members’ viewpoint when planning your member journeys.

It’s more important to ask your member what kind of journey they would like as they join or renew their membership. Building a bespoke journey around the member (or adapting one of your standard journeys) will help their buy-in and show your commitment to helping them toward their fitness goals. Some new members won’t know what they want; ask if they want to choose the standard journey, and they will generally be happy.

Your ongoing journey may also differ for different members, based on membership type, for instance. A common milestone for ongoing members is the exercise programme review. The standard 8-12 week programme review does not work for everyone, but is a good contact point, and you should adjust the timeframe for your average member. Rather than an exercise programme review, try a general review, and again, ask each member when they would next like to check their progress, review their goals, and perhaps modify their exercise programme. Getting their buy-in to the process and tailoring it to them will help them agree to the review, and help to motivate them.

Finally, know where members can drop out of the journey, and plan to catch them, or get them back on track. At any point in time you should be able to say where the majority of your members are on the journey; if you can’t, then you need to redefine the journey. Start with your new and returning members, and then move on to those members who are due a review.

This is an extract from Workout Magazine - January 2011