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The Leisure sector is growing and it's competitive. With more gyms, sport and leisure centres operating in the market in all parts of the UK, social media helps leisure operators stand out from the very large crowd and engage the right audience!

Statistics show that membership of UK gyms increased to 9.7m last year, and that the number of facilities also increased to over than 6,500. With one in seven of us Brits already a member of a gym, social media is not only a channel for recruiting new members, but importantly it provides a channel to help retain existing members.

Related content: How GLL Deliver A Better Customer Experience On Social Media (Live webinar)

Here we take a look at three key benefits of social media for leisure brands:

1) Brand awareness

One of the main reasons leisure and hospitality organisations use social media is to achieve brand awareness. Getting the brand in front of potential customers is critical for growth and to fix the leaky bucket when it comes to churn which is considerable across leisure chains. Social media helps brands to communicate their brand promise and position that brand to deliver on that promise through the look and feel of the brand identity conveyed through the social channels - the content and messaging to support brand awareness will all work towards creating that positioning - e.g. budget, luxury, clinical, specialist etc.

One organisation who do this well is The Bannatyne Group (@Bannatyne), operating a chain of Luxury Health Clubs across the UK. Whilst they use social to achieve a number of objectives, brand awareness is key! Their twitter page alone shows all the different services they can provide, from gym memberships to food to spa days, all falling under the Bannatyne group. Not only this, but by using images and videos from current members as ambassadors, it gives a more realistic expectation to potential customers. As such, social helps to provide a better understanding of what people are buying into, driving better customer satisfaction.

2) New revenue

With just over 2 billion Facebook users and 328 million monthly Twitter users, social media is the place to be advertising. These sites enable you to set up ads, to target specific locations, ages, genders and demographics, to help find the right customer. With so many potential leads on social media, it is important that organisations are showcasing their ‘best bits’. Whether that be a new offer of ‘no joining fees’ or a new set of classes launching at gym.

Every brands needs to offer value to their customers and sell the reasons as to why a brand is different and why they should sign up to them?

This gives brands the opportunity to promote all the wonderful things about their facilities that stand out from the crowd such the location, free parking offers and guest passes! Ensuring that followers are aware of all the perks provided also works as a tactic for motivating ambassadors to share and promote the brand on social media.

Goals (@goals_soccer) do a great job in promoting reasons why people should go along and play football at their centres, highlighting benefits such as health and ability to socialise with friends. By doing this they are actively involving the customers and as such, customer will then tweet and get involved in the social conversation, helping to add buzz to the online community.

3) Revenue retention

Connecting with the audience on social media is a great advantage for the leisure industry. At a simple level it enables health club brands to send out appropriate content targeted at key audiences to ‘add value’ to their membership. One of the greatest triggers for cancelling memberships is the lack of utilisation of membership, and social media provides a great tool for helping members to understand how to get the most value out of their membership.

Screenshot 2018-03-05 16.23.26.pngWith this in mind it is essential to ensure that images used are representative of the target audience (promoting the power of ‘people like me’). This will additionally encourage people to renew their subscriptions for another month or year, as by seeing ‘people like me’ they will know that your facility is the place for them.

Not only this, but by creating communities and starting discussions online it will help to build a better sense of community inside the facility. Likewise, by having a voice on social and by keeping up with social media, it demonstrates to audiences that a brand is up to date with technology and from this, they will convey the same sentiment to their view of the gym equipment located in the gym or health club. Once a community is created, it creates an even more compelling sense of belonging. If a customer feels that they belong to a community, they are then more likely to renew their memberships and attend regularly.

It is important for leisure facilities to signpost customers to their social channels - physically in terms of signage and compelling call to action incentives (competitions and loyalty rewards) as well as in-person through the instructors, coaches and employees located on site, directing people at the end of their session or exit of the facility to share their view online.

Interested to hear more? Join our live webinar to discover how GLL, one of the UK's largest leisure operators, deliver a better customer experience on social media across their 250 sport and leisure facilities.

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