LESS SOCIAL MEDIA. MORE TRAINING PEOPLE.
Social media hit us hard, fast and literally in the face.
There’s much to love about these platforms.
My top 3 Social Media uses are:
Connecting with friends.
Our private Fury Crew group for the mighty people that train with me.
Collecting groups. How else am I going to find these Godzilla and Gi Joe toys?
For a long time, Marketing would have been in the runner up spot. Social Media marketing has become a huge part of the fitness industry. People showing their workouts, their clients training, movement demos, handheld motivational chats and the like fill most of our feeds now.
I have been a part of it too. Though I always enjoy the sillier aspect of some my social media marketing (Godzilla, Star Wars and GI Joe images), the demo or workout side stresses me out.
I can’t figure how this pressure came to be. Why or when did it become a standard job requirement?
Let’s go with the obvious…
IT WAS NEW. IT WAS FREE. IT WAS FUN… at first.
As social media outlets became more financially minded with paid ads and an ever shifting algorithm, the pressure to produce started to achieve less of a payout. Back in 2011, I could post about a workshop at the gym and it would fill rapidly. The glory days of the easy wildly seen post ended quickly.
What many (including myself) missed the mark on, is the fact that the majority of the people I was attracting with those posts were folks I met face to face at another course first. They would then vouch for me or the gym to others. It was never a pure social media spread. There was always human interaction.
As social media become a job standard and “Brand Fury” began to slowly gain some traction, it started to have a negative impact on my own training. Instead of working out, I would think “this would make a great video” and stop, set up the camera and shoot. I always felt I delivered solid information, but it took away from a higher priority fitness requirement…. my actual fitness.
More and more Trainers and gyms fell into the trap of content generation. Generating posts for the sake of feed visibility. Master PCC Instructor and close friend Danny Kavadlo made a great point during his episode of the Coach Fury Podcast. To paraphrase Danny, “Fuck generating content, create art.”
As a Film Major that used to write and direct, that slapped me across the Facebook.
You don’t generate art, music or babies. You create.
Danny’s comment immediately changed my approach on creating fitness related posts.
Without fully realizing it, the Coach Fury Podcast was driven by my desire to create a place for real conversations. To dig beneath the surface of fitness… and movies… and music…. and toys with my friends and mentors. You don’t generate a conversation.
As I struggled greater than expected with the growth of Fury Industries, I started not only to see where social media wasn’t serving the purpose I had hoped, I saw how it was the wrong focus to begin with. On another episode of the podcast with Becky Codi, I realized my approach and mission statement were off.
I don’t want Fury Industries to be a big gym. I want what we do to be the best local spot to train. Everyone in a neighborhood knows which bodega has the best bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. I want to be the best neighborhood spot for fitness. Those bodega’s aren’t wasting time with social media. They deliver in their service.
When I asked a group of Strength Faction Vets why we post and give away so much free information, the concept of establishing expertise was the most popular answer. Yet, how does a potential client/consumer differentiate between good and bad info if everyone is posting? Are we even showing up in their feed?
More likely than not, we are inadvertently trying to prove our worth to our peers. That type of merit is only genuinely valuable if you plan to teach courses or sell programs. Otherwise, focus on selling sessions in your neighborhood.
My dream has to be built the same way. Do I still post on social media? Fuck yeah, I do. But it’s low on the priority now. The stress is off.
It took me several months to process that conversation with Becky (and several guests after). What I ended up with was this:
January 1st, 2019 I deleted Facebook and LinkedIn from my phone.
I only check Facebook 2-3 times a day.
I no longer shoot pictures of my Crew while they train. That is their time.
The camera only comes out when I train to check my own form. If there’s progress in the technique I may share it. That is my time.
I don’t hashtag personal posts. Those are for my friends.
My priority for creating videos, blogs and articles will be for the systems and groups I teach for.
My wife made sweet postcards to hand out. I always have them in my jacket pocket. I’ll hand them to anyone I feel would be a great fit for the Fury Crew as a whole. I don’t view them as a personal income source. The Fury Crew must thrive as a community. Handing out postcards also allows me to introduce myself and establish a small connection.
I reach out to local businesses and offer them group discounts. *I need to do this more.
I’ve begun to draw clearer distinctions between my personal and business Facebook accounts. I will stop posting fitness related items on my personal page in the near future.
Here are some interesting changes I’ve experienced since reducing my social media time and marketing.
Overall, I am more productive and focused.
While I’m still managing the balancing act, I have a clearer delineation of work and family time.
The biggest surprise is that I have been dramatically more passionate about my videos and articles since the switch. I shot more video when the pressure was on. Now that it’s off I find myself writing more. It’s been neat organically tapping back into that.
I’ve gained 6 new Fury Crew members in 3 weeks. As an Independently run business. that’s unprecedented for me.
Look, I may be wrong and committing career seppuku. There’s only one way to find out. This may be risky business (but I don’t think so). Right or wrong, I’m focused, lesser stressed and happier trying.
I have to stress that my intention is not to pass judgement, or look down upon anyone in the fitness family that enjoys the social media side of life. My goal is to perhaps shine some light and break some chains to those that feel burdened by the potentially misleading demands of social media in our field.
Live long. Be strong. Die Mighty!
* I realize that by writing and sharing this some may say I’m contradicting myself. Here’s the thing, I do believe some social media for marketing is a good thing. I also think there’s a distinct line between brick and mortar/trainer use and workshop purposes.
If you own a shop, or train people, your best marketing practice is going to be direct person to person, business to business outreach. Referrals based on quality work or service will always have a greater return on investment than having 10,000 Instagram followers.
For workshops, and those that travel to teach, you do need to build a broader awareness to your program or system. Even so, you need to get out in front of people and meet them face to face to get the final buy in.
Steve “Coach Fury” Holiner is an Original Strength Master Instructor, Master RKC, Master DVRT and Strength Faction Mentor.
Formerly from Mark Fisher Fitness and Five Point Academy in NYC, he now runs Fury Industries out of Gowanus, Brooklyn. Fury Industries offers Small Group Classes, Personal Training and Online Coaching.
Fury is the creator of the weekly Coach Fury Podcast where he discusses strength, music and movies with current and upcoming heroes in fitness.
Please visit www.coachfury.com for more info. You can listen to the Coach Fury Podcast wherever you listen to shows.