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The fitness professional’s guide to using TikTok as a marketing tool

The fitness professional's guide to using TikTok as a marketing tool

At first, TikTok was mostly a platform teens used to post dancing videos. But log onto the short-form video-sharing app today, and you’ll see much, much more.

Unlike Instagram, where users are almost exclusively served content by people they follow, TikTok populates the home feed with videos from users all across the globe based on an individual’s personal location and interests.

In other words, fitness TikTok has a lot of growth potential, which could be a game-changer for personal trainers and fitness businesses. (You can also grow your fitness business using digital marketing tools from Wix Fit.)

“TikTok is a chance to expand upon your personal brand and get people into your classes and gym,” says Jera Foster-Fell, a social media coach and former SoulCycle instructor with more than 1.4 million TikTok followers.

TikTok can be a solid marketing tool even if you train clients in person, as opposed to being an online personal trainer. That's because TikTok often promotes content from users in your region, so trainers can use TikTok to secure local in-person clients. (Related reading: How to get your clients to post their workouts on social media.)

But Foster-Fell says TikTok is more than that. “Through TikTok, you can engage an audience, build a community and make a huge impact with your wisdom and advice,” she says. “And in the business world, this platform can also lead to opportunities like working with brands, being flown out to host an event or lead a fitness workshop.” (Check out Foster-Fell's TikTok here.)

Still, learning the ins and outs of a new platform can be stressful. We’ve got the tips and tricks you need to get in on the ground floor, without feeling overwhelmed.

Should all fitness professionals be on TikTok?

TikTok can bring about great opportunities for connection. Even if you’re not looking to use the social platform to expand upon your current fitness business, engaging on TikTok is an opportunity to connect and learn. Whether it’s exposing yourself to new fitness trends or connecting with other professionals, fitness TikTok is a resource for everyone—regardless of whether or not you go viral or build a massive following.

“For so long, we’ve been conditioned to use Instagram, an app that’s a highlight reel,” says Foster-Fell. “TikTok is more raw and gritty, and quality doesn’t necessarily matter. With it, you can share quick thoughts and musings, reaching loads of people to have important discussions.”

With raw and gritty also comes the hurdle of unsolicited (and difficult) feedback. For Alyssa Pannozzi, a Boston-based trainer and creator with over 200K TikTok followers, focusing on her mission to empower others on their own fitness journeys is what helps her overlook the naysayers. “I’ve learned to put feedback aside. I’ve had people comment on my appearance. Critique my form and my size,” she says. “But I’m in a group chat with about 100 other creators, and it helps me keep my eye on the prize. I know what I’m doing for a reason, and there are always going to be people who find a problem with what you do.”

Types of TikTok content

According to Foster-Fell, there are three main types of content on TikTok:

01. Trending content

When it comes to social media and fitness marketing strategies, pay attention to things that are trending or viral. And on TikTok? Well, there’s a new trend every day, like the wildly popular GRWM franchise (which stands for “get ready with me”) and cultural moments. See: the viral plankchallenge, for starters.

Hopping on trends is only going to get you so far, says Foster-Fell. “It could go viral, sure, but you also need to bring your own unique point of view and carve your own corner out of the internet. That won't happen if you’re only doing trends.”

02. Original content

Exactly what it sounds like, original content can be educational, inspirational/motivational or entertaining. This content should be unique to you, and offer your followers a service that they look directly to you for.

Pannozzi landed most of her TikTok followers using an original content series. “I started in May 2020 during the pandemic, and there was definitely a learning curve,” she tells Wix. “Someone challenged me to create a 30-day fitness challenge complete with one fitness move a day to add to your routine in less than 5 minutes, and things just kind of took off from there. Loads and loads of people starting to ask me for fitness content.” (FYI: You can use TikTok to promote the fitness challenges hosted on your website.)

03. Interactive content

The great thing about TikTok is the opportunity to interact with other users’ content, beyond just commenting and providing feedback. For instance, using the “duet” tool, you can create a video alongside another user’s video, making one piece of content. Using the “stitch” tool, users can clip and use scenes from other videos on their own (while retaining credit per video creator). Lastly, you can respond to comments with new videos, too.

What performs well on fitness TikTok

While there isn’t a singular yellow brick road to millions of TikTok followers, there are a few proven strategies that can help boost engagement and get your content noticed.

01. Have a clear point of view

“You are not for everyone, and that's okay,” says Foster-Fell. She offers a Social Media Saloon, a twelve-week coaching program that breaks down the mysteries of social media, and she always tells her students to avoid lukewarm positions. "I would prefer them to be red hot. You want people to say ‘yes, this is for me.’ Those are the people who will stay and engage.” Speak to the topics that are within your expertise, and be passionate about them.

02. Think short

Try to keep your content as short and succinct as possible. Watch time and retention are important. Foster-Fell recommends keeping videos 30-seconds or shorter.

03. Focus on the hook

The first three to five seconds of your video are imperative, especially because users are always one swipe away from the next piece of content. Rather than starting a story like, “So I was at the gym today…” say something that will really catch someone’s attention, like “these are three guaranteed moves to grow your biceps.”

04. Use text to your advantage

Layering text over your video is another easy way to engage your audience. Make sure the text is within the boundaries of your screen, is easy to read and stands out against the video background. Good news: There are loads of different fonts in the TikTok app.

05. Don’t worry about when you post, just post

“The amazing thing about TikTok is the potential lifespan of a video can be something like 90 days,” says Foster-Fell, comparing it to the 24-hour-or-so lifespan of Instagram content. That means that regardless of when you post, your video can grow legs.

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