Friday, December 14, 2012

Part 3: Empowering Advocates

Have you seen this picture before? Yes? See? Jiu-Jiteiros
love to share stuff about jiu-jitsu.

For the last two sections, we have been talking about how to use social media to strengthen your community and create a lifestyle that persists outside of your gym. To make this guide more concrete, we have been referencing the social media campaign of Junior Achievement, using their challenges and their successes with online communities as a framework for jiu-jitsu communities.

Once you have created advocates and built an online community that reflects your offline community, the next step is to empower your advocates to spread the word about your gym for you.

When I reached this point with Junior Achievement’s fundraiser, we had built up so much momentum that advocates gladly promoted the fundraiser and relayed events to their friends and followers. Multiple journalists and bloggers wrote about the fundraiser and tweeted about it. Our Facebook and Twitter followers shared and retweeted our updates. And local celebrities plugged Junior Achievement through their websites and social media. On this front, Pittsburgh Dad was the highlight. If you don’t know Pittsburgh Dad, you’re probably not from Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Dad YouTube videos have become a part of the local culture, and his following is enormous. When he posted about the fundraiser, our revenue skyrocketed almost instantly.

Why would Pittsburgh Dad want to tell people about Junior Achievement? Because he found our message to be engaging and worth talking about. Junior Achievement’s work resonated with him, and he cared enough about the cause to help out by talking about it.

Pittsburgh Dad is now regularly broadcast at Heinz Field
and has a huge following on social media.
The parallel with your students should be clear: by creating a worthwhile community that serves your students, you impassion them. They want to tell their friends about their awesome hobby and how much fun they have on the mat. It is known: jiu-jiteiros love to talk about jiu-jitsu, and many of your students have probably already told their friends and family about the gym.

If you reward your students for spreading the word and give them tools to make it easier, you can significantly increase the amount and quality of word of mouth marketing associated with your gym. Some ideas to get you started:
  • Offer rewards for FourSquare and Facebook check-ins.
  • Create a referral program that benefits both the student making the recommendation and the new student being referred.
  • Provide gym themed car decals to your students for free.
  • Highlight individual students for achievements, even if they are minor, via Facebook pictures.
  • Request reviews and testimonials from students.
  • Diversify your curriculum so that it can appeal to children, women, and individuals interested primarily in self-defense and/or fitness. Use your Facebook to talk about why these different groups should train jiu-jitsu and ask your students to share.
  • Encourage blue belts and up to mentor new students.

I recently helped the PA State Grappling Championships use social media
to promote their annual tournament. We set a new record for registration.
Yes, not all of these suggestions are directly tied to social media, but like we talked about before, social media is an extension of your offline community. If your social media presence is active and lively, anything you do to improve your offline community will be reflected in the online community. That should always be your rule: do what is best for your community.

We have covered a lot of material over the course of the article, and I hope that the parallels between Junior Achievement demonstrate just how effective social media can be for your gym. Approach your social media in manageable pieces and nurture it the way you would nurture a sapling. It will grow given enough time, attention, and water. And the fruit will be plentiful.

Best of luck in growing your gym community.

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