Growing a business: The power of social media for fitness enthusiasts

We’ve all seen it – the before and after photo collage of a friend or family member, or maybe even a stranger, who made a lifestyle change to eat healthier and exercise more all while sharing their journey with the world. And then there are the fitness gurus who have taken the social media world by storm. If you’re familiar with popular Instagram accounts like Tone it Up or Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide (#BBG for short), you’ll know what I’m talking about. The women behind these accounts have created mega-successful brands and businesses, gained millions of social media followers and helped thousands of women obtain their fitness and health goals.Capture

Still not sure who I’m talking about – let me introduce you.

Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott founded Tone It Up in 2009 for women who wanted to be healthier with their fun, energetic and fresh approach to exercise. It has since exploded and now provides fitness products, a community, retreats, DVDs and nutrition plans to millions of women.

Australia-native Kayla Itsines began her journey in 2008 as a personal trainer, but it didn’t take long for her to branch out on her own. She soon created workout guides and nutrition plans to help customers see the results they wanted. Since then, Kayla has helped millions of individuals achieve a healthier and more active lifestyle.

So, what’s their strategy? And how can other social marketers learn from these successes?

Know your audience. Having a ton of followers is great, but if you aren’t connected with your followers does it matter? Karena and Katrina, as well as Tone It Up have over 1 million Instagram followers between their two accounts, but this didn’t happen overnight. It happened by listening to their followers and asking what they liked or didn’t like. While this may seem small when you compare it to celebrities or big brands, it’s pretty impressive in the fitness world.

Be realistic. It’s important to remember that each person’s journey is different, therefore the workouts and nutrition plans should reflect that. If these women took the “one size fits all” approach, chances are they wouldn’t have become such successes. This principle applies regardless of the industry – if your brand is not real or authentic it’s going to be difficult to relate to your audience.

Get creative. Engaging frequently with your followers builds a sense of trust between your brand and the consumer, and it will also tell you what they want to hear. We all need a little encouragement when it comes to exercising regularly and eating healthier. Kayla Itsines’ Instagram is filled with customers’ before and after photos, meal tips and motivational reminders to
keep you on track.


According to a recent Entrepreneur article, fitness made up 66 percent of 2015 New Year’s Resolutions, which means that society is putting a greater emphasis on being healthy. But it also means that fitness start-ups need to do even more to stand out among their competitors. With the various fitness methods and practices, it’s important for companies to find their niche and own it. Not only do fitness start-ups need to stand out within the specific area of expertise, such as yoga or Pilates, but companies must also compete with all of the other health and fitness organizations within the industry.  As marketers, we can all take away a strategy or promotion tactic from Tone It Up or Kayla Itsines, especially when it comes to marketing a brand via social media.  It goes to show that even though the social media realm may feel saturated, there is still a way to break through the noise.

If you used similar fitness or nutrition programs in the past, or if you have marketing tips for small businesses or start-ups, share it in the comments below!

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