How To Boost Facebook Engagement With Kelly Fitzgerald From Anytime Fitness [ACM 003]
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Whether you own a small or large business, you may have your hands full keeping your company’s Facebook page up-to-date and engaging. Imagine having hundreds of Facebook pages to keep track of. That would be an immense undertaking!
Today’s guest, Kelly Fitzgerald, does just that. As the content strategist and copywriter for Anytime Fitness, a global fitness company with franchises in North America and other parts of the world, Kelly works closely with the brand and the franchisees to create compelling, actionable content.
Kelly has achieved some huge results for Anytime Fitness on Facebook, and today she tells us how she does it. Some of the topics you’ll hear discussed include:
- An overview of the successful practices that Kelly has seen work very well with the company’s Facebook accounts.
- How a mix of images, links, and other content can help companies become more successful on Facebook.
- How Kelly manages not only corporate pages, but also local pages for a large company.
- The training process for franchisees on how to best use the social media platforms.
- How Kelly maintains a consistent brand voice.
- Kelly’s best tips on managing multiple Facebook pages.
- Some of the ways that Kelly has worked on her scheduling and planning.
Quotes by Kelly:
- “We have an intentional weekly plan where we produce quality, consistent content five times per week.”
- “The local content is what really fuels people to connect with their community.”
- “We have engaged franchisees who are passionate about their communities. It’s a big team effort.”
Nathan: Managing your company’s Facebook page is hard enough. What if you want to increase your engagement and what if you actually have multiple Facebook pages because you have franchise like a restaurant or a fitness company?
Hey, I’m Nathan from CoSchedule. In this episode of the Actionable Content Marketing Podcast, I’m sitting down with Kelly Fitzgerald. She’s the content strategist and copywriter at Anytime Fitness. You’ve probably heard of Anytime Fitness because they have locations everywhere. They’re in all 50 states across the United States and they’re also an international company with franchises in lots of different countries.
Kelly’s job is to help all of the US and Canadian franchises share super engaging content on Facebook. That’s more than 3,000 Facebook pages worth of content, super impressive. Anyway, Kelly has helped Anytime Fitness increase their Facebook engagement by a lot and that’s the story she’s sharing in this episode. Let’s check it out.
Hey Kelly, thanks a lot for being here with me today and for sharing how you helped Anytime Fitness experience some huge results with Facebook.
Kelly: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.
Nathan: Yeah, no problem. Kelly, could you give me the lowdown on Anytime Fitness?
Kelly: Sure. Anytime Fitness is a global fitness franchise. We’re headquartered in Woodbury, Minnesota. It was founded in 2002 and now some 14 years or so later there are more than 3,000 gyms in 29 countries around the world. We’re reaching about 2.6 million plus members and growing.
Nathan: Oh wow. I was going to say, that was my next question. How many franchises are there? I know you guys just seem to be everywhere. I was just in Seattle and you guys are out there.
Kelly: Yes. All 50 states, and to be honest at Anytime Fitness we lose track of the number because it’s always changing. The latest that I could record was 29 countries and we’re really seeing a lot of international growth but now it’s in all 50 states and continues to grow around here. We just stick with that 3,000 plus number.
Nathan: You can’t be wrong if you put the plus on it.
Kelly: Yup, exactly.
Nathan: It’s fun for me too to. Co-Schedule is based at North Dakota. It’s fun to have another Minnesota company on the podcast.
Kelly: Yeah, absolutely.
Nathan: Nice. We’re going to talk a little bit about Facebook today. Just for the record, does every one of those franchises have its own Facebook page?
Kelly: Yes. We have a corporate brand page that we manage but then every individual club has its own. It’s really important for them to still maintain their specific identity and the address in community and of course the peer search results. There are many Anytime Facebook pages out there.
Nathan: Wow. That alone seems like a lot to market. You got a really big job to do.
Kelly: Yes. Though we share the responsibility which I’m sure we’ll get into. Corporate does some, and the local clubs do a lot of their own as well.
Nathan: Nice. Let’s explore those details in just a second here. Just for my say, for my background, what do you do specifically at Anytime Fitness?
Kelly: I’m the content strategist and also a copywriter. I worked really closely with our brand digital and creative teams within Anytime Fitness to plan out and produce all the content that we publish on our channels. That could be from our core website, to our blog, and then all the social channels. We do really focus on Facebook but we also have Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube. You name it. As a content strategist, I really focus on what story you want to tell and then work with other team members on where we want to publish those.
Nathan: That’s great. I remember actually I was reading your blog and I read a post about adding fruit like cucumbers in the water and now I can’t drink water without fruit in it now.
Kelly: Glad to help. At least it adds some variety.
Nathan: Yeah, exactly. Like lemons and cucumbers. Thanks for that tip. There’s a lot of good content on your blog. How to lead a healthy lifestyle, different exercise routines. I was impressed by your blog to begin with and just hearing what you’re doing with Facebook is really impressive too.
Kelly: Thank you. It certainly started with our blog where we really focused all our content but then we realized the publishing potential for Facebook and really the reach to our community and that’s why we really focused on that as another way to publish content.
Nathan: Exactly. I want to explore that just a little bit further. Could you give me a quick overview of the success metrics or some of the things that you’ve seen worked really well with Facebook?
Kelly: Sure. At the corporate level, and I’ll say a lot of corporate versus local since we have so many pages. The corporate page has over 240,000 likes in general but we really wanted to focus on our entire network this year, so a lot has changed for us in 2016. We are reaching about 1,000,000 impressions a month at a corporate level but we rolled out a new content strategy this year including the mass publishing plan for Facebook.
Within just these last eight or so months, we’ve managed to increase our reach across all of the franchise pages, some 275% actually. Now we went from 1,000,000 to 40,000,000 reach of people a month. Not only are we publishing across not just the corporate page but all of our Facebook pages with some consistent great content that reach has just grown exponentially. We’re happy to see that our fanbase is growing and our reach is just skyrocketing..
Nathan: I would also say that’s skyrocketing. That is huge growth.
Kelly: Yeah, pretty excited.
Nathan: 270% something you said huh?
Kelly: Yeah, 275%.
Nathan: Wow. I want to dive into that just a little bit further. What would you say is one of the number one reasons you were able to increase your Facebook engagement like that?
Kelly: Sure. We think it’s come down to just more intentional kind of thoughtful content. We did a lot of research, a little bit before 2016, end of 2015, we really looked at what our members want, what they’re searching, when they want it, the timing of content and then we established this really intentional weekly plan where we produce quality, consistent content five times a week that aligns with all these pillars and research that we did. We’re of course trying to match up with our tone and sense of community for Anytime Fitness, that was already there, the local pages had great communities but we really wanted to kind of align everything and get it consistent across our entire network. That thoughtful content plus the addition of our broad network has really been what’s helped us.
Nathan: That makes perfect sense and again that’s just an awesome accomplishment. I just want to dig a little deeper into that sort of content that you share. You said you were really intentional about it. I’ve noticed you have a really nice mix of maybe just plain images that you share that have really nice, I mean some are quirky and funny and others link back to your blog posts. Could you explain just a little bit more about why you chose to go about that way?
Kelly: We looked at what’s successful for Facebook and other publishing channels. That was part of our consideration. We had a lot of history from our blogs to see what type of content was succeeding. It’s really interesting to see that different content succeeds on different platforms. For example, some of our blogpost have pretty long life span on Pinterest but Facebook we saw a lot of great, really quick engagement with just some graphics.
A part of that research that I was talking about, we researched down to sentiment and what time of the week. For example, our humor content lands on Wednesday because we know that people are a little bit down in the dumps on Wednesday, they need more encouragement. We really just try to be light, connect with our members, and not too serious on Wednesdays. We really planned out specific things like that.
We focus Mondays on getting people to the gym because after weekends and holidays, people have maybe indulged a little bit, that’s time to really motivate them to get to the gym early because they’re more likely to continue and be healthy throughout the week if they start strong. All those things really went into what we publish and when.
And then we try to get a variety of assets. Obviously, we know video is doing really well on Facebook so we put more efforts toward video. It also depends on the people. You can get engagement through quick hitting pieces but longer retention and actual leads to the gym with a long form blogs. We really try to create a variety of all those things to reach a lot of goals, hopefully.
Nathan: I think you guys are doing an exceptional job with that. I must have looked at your page on a Wednesday because I literally looked at one of your Facebook posts and laughed out loud. It was just on point. It was really well done. I was really impressed.
One of the things that you mentioned a lot is that you have a company Facebook page or a corporate Facebook page and all these local franchise pages. That is a lot. Could you explain how you manage all of these different pages?
Kelly: Sure. We have a community manager at corporate who handles all the publishing and the responses to the Anytime Fitness corporate accounts including the Facebook page and others. We spend a fair amount of time training our franchisees to use Facebook and then another social publishing tool called MomentFeed. MomentFeed allows us to actually schedule content to all of our pages. When we train them on this tool that allows them to actually see what’s coming, review the content, and then plan their own content around it. While corporate community manager handles accounts, each club handles their own community management. Does that make sense?
Nathan: That does. That makes me wonder why is it important for your franchisees to have the ability to manage their own Facebook pages?
Kelly: Yes. Each club is unique in itself. While we have a personality as a franchise for Anytime Fitness, each community is a little bit different. It comes down to a lot of factors. We want of course every local club to come up in search results and local listings. Just simple search engine optimization is important for them to have their local page and local content. And then also Facebook advertising comes into play. It’s a really powerful tool that we encourage them to use. We want to have local pages and content with reason.
And then when it comes to publishing, the Facebook algorithm is always changing so we knew that we wanted to create a consistent great coaching content across all of our gyms and then spend time building those resources that our local clubs may not have the time to do because they’re really focusing on their business and writing this great community. We discovered there really needs to be a balance, Facebook has that concern. We’ve kind of witnessed, you can’t just publish this mass corporate content and have no local conversation and vice versa. When it was just the local clubs, it wasn’t as successful as when we’ve layered on this coaching content. It’s kind of a balance of two. The resources are great and helpful to people but it’s the community and those connections that are bringing people back. We want to balance them both, that local content is what really feels people to connect with their community and be as successful as they can within the gym so we don’t want to lose that.
Nathan: I totally understand that. In fact, I’m reading this book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It seems like the things that you’re talking about have information for fitness brand. This is super important and a community can help make that happen.
Kelly: Absolutely. We’re trying to really provide the tools and the coaching to help members, but absolutely, the support and community is what really drives people to continue their fitness journey.
Nathan: Excellent. You’re helping out from the corporate stand point and then you also have the local stuff going on which is a lot going on at any given time. I’m wondering how do you work on maintaining a consistent brand voice?
Kelly: It’s kind of funny. Anytime Fitness is very unique from anywhere else. When you start working here, you get pretty familiar with our personality rather quickly, it starts with our co-founders who lead by example and then it trickles down to the whole company.
When people buy Anytime Fitness, the franchisees actually come to the corporate office. They go through training here and they learn about these service standards that we all operate through. Within the clubs and outside, we’re all basically kind of coached to be personable and friendly. That should come across in our face to face interactions as well as our writing voice across our publishing channels. If people that get involved in this franchise truly want to help people get to a healthier place, we’re trying to really help our franchisees support their clubs. That whole collective attitude helps create a brand voice because we’re all used to communicating that way and expecting it from each other. That helps a lot. I would just say that here at the publishing level within our department, we have a lot of checks and balances so we try to stay with that consistent brand voice and then we have people looking over our shoulder before things get published.
Nathan: The idea of service standards sounds a lot like a framework to give to people, to help them be successful from the get go rather than having everything filter through corporate.
Kelly: That would just be way too hard to manage and unrealistic. It’s definitely about that coaching and community that we establish within the organization I think helps our communications be more unified.
Nathan: I love that. Giving someone the tools that they need to be successful from the get go. You’ve obviously mastered this concept of…
Kelly: I don’t know about master but we’re trying.
Nathan: Pretty close then. What advice would you have for others who manage multiple Facebook pages?
Kelly: I would say to really take advantage of the fact that you are doing so. It’s a great way to test and learn. Facebook in particular is constantly changing so none of us can really be the absolute expert but when you’re managing a lot of pages, you have the opportunity to test and try. You can try things on one page or subset of pages before you really commit to the entire network. That’s what we’ve done here. It’s a great way to ease into new initiatives rather than rolling out some collective change..
Nathan: Yeah, makes perfect sense. With so much going on, I just want to know a little bit more behind the scenes. What does your process look like to plan all of this Facebook content?
Kelly: Sure. I really meet with a some key stakeholders on a regular basis across our company to make sure that I’m aware of what’s happening at the highest brand level for Anytime Fitness and then I do my own research when it comes to the season and what was successful for us last year, that sort of thing. I bring together with our team of creative marketing folk to brainstorm content ideas. We do this two months in advance to when it would actually publish. That gives some time to research and write whatever content we decide on and then I kind of pass it along to our creative team that would build any supporting graphics or video or other assets we need. That’s about two months in advance once the creative is actually ready, we have a review process here entirely to look at that content and then ultimately when it’s finalized we load it into MomentFeed for our franchisees to get notice about two weeks before it runs so that they can see what’s coming.
Nathan: Nice. It sounds like it’s really well planned out. I know a lot of people have trouble getting ahead with their schedule.
Kelly: Yes, but it took us a few months to get there for sure. We were used to operating pretty close and creating and publishing right on top of each other. Once we started mass publishing, we wanted to be fair to the franchisees to give them notice which we want to be fair to the entire team that we weren’t always racing. It’s not that we don’t do any content that’s timely and on the spot, but because we work ahead about two months, it allows us to actually really play on full and then have some breathing realm to do that timely stuff.
Nathan: That makes perfect sense. Just to dig a little bit deeper into that, when you guys decided it was time to get ahead just a little bit, how did you actually go, let’s just say from being you’re just a week ahead to two months ahead. What exactly did that look like?
Kelly: We worked really, really hard. It’s probably no more simple than that. I got into be more planful and looking at months ahead down to literal calendars and additional research and trying to plot out a fair amount of the decisions early so that when it comes to creating the content, we can move at a quicker pace. The research was done. We put our heads down and worked in an extremely fast pace for a few months just to chip away at that time frame. Now, we’re pretty happy with getting far ahead. That doesn’t mean every single piece of content is done so soon because we do about five a week but the majority are and that gives us some wiggle room, and anything that needs a little bit more time.
Nathan: That’s great. I mean what better way than to just know that you’re going to go into maybe a sprint. We’re going to sprint through this. We’re going to get ahead and then afterward you just need to maintain.
Kelly: Yes, absolutely.
Nathan: You mentioned seasonality just a little bit ago and how that factors into your planning. Could you explain that just a little bit more? I assume for a fitness company that is a pretty important thing.
Kelly: Yep, absolutely. It’s a huge factor because we really want to meet our members where they are and help them with seasonal concerns. That’s a big driver for fitness. You know the holidays, kids not being in school or other times of the year where they’re more likely to focus on fitness or need health. It is a little tricky for us because we’re publishing in the United States and Canada so there are some holidays, at least that once country. Thankfully, MomentFeed actually allows us to split our Facebook pages into groups. We have a US group and Canada where we can publish things for each country.
Other than that, we look at seasonality and how to help people but franchising also has another layer because what’s happening on one coast isn’t happening on another, especially for weather and things like that. While we look at the season, we still try to focus on universal pushing and community content. We look to the franchisee’s to provide that local content that’s really specific to them, be it weather, sports team, or anything like that.
Nathan: Love it, makes perfect sense. There is just a lot behind the scenes going on with planning. You’ve mentioned MomentFeed, could you explain MomentFeed a little bit more?
Kelly: Sure. There’s really two main tools that we use, CoSchedule and MomentFeed. We really rely on CoSchedule as our planning tool. It’s to figure out what we’re going to publish and when we’re going to publish it so we can layer everything in there. I also use it, CoSchedule is great to communicate with Anytime Fitness contributors who don’t work at the Minnesota office. There’s a whole team of them so I set up task lists and CoSchedule helps me manage the production and publishing on everything. We also use it as our review tool. We have many team members who jump into CoSchedule and we have everything prepped to see what’s being published on the corporate page or across the entire network. They can check things there.
MomentFeed is really the publishing side so while CoSchedule is more planning, once it’s finalized we move it over to MomentFeed for the actual scheduled publishing on all Facebook pages. The other cool thing is that MomentFeed has the ability to provide other assets there so we’ve talked a lot about local content and we do try to provide more tools to help them create that. We have other images, brand images and other content and ideas within MomentFeed that they can use to create their own local content.
Nathan: I love it. It seems like you’re using both tools to be exactly what you need them to be. Managing that many local pages is no easy feat.
Kelly: Yeah. Thankfully, we have really engaged franchisees who are passionate about their communities. It’s a big team effort.
Nathan: Excellent. The last time we talked, you had mentioned that Facebook has become your core social network for engaging your audience. Why do you think that is?
Kelly: We tested and tried a lot of things with the corporate level and then with small groups of clubs. It really comes down to the fact that there’s just so much return on Facebook for not a lot of time in expense. Mainly for the franchisees, we want them to focus on their communities and operating their clubs.
Facebook is just perfect for the additional engagement and retention of their members because majority of their members are there and they’re spending a lot of time on Facebook. It’s a great tool for them to build and connect with their communities.
When it comes down to running the business, you need measurement. Facebook is more measurable and it’s also really more affordable and successful compared to other social platforms. We do ask our franchisees to focus on Facebook first before moving onto Instagram or Pinterest or Twitter. They have great value but they’re just not as much affordable like return on their investment..
Nathan: That makes perfect sense. Be where your audience is, right?
Kelly: Absolutely. We all know that engagement is super high on Facebook so you have to be there.
Nathan: We are in the same shoes, Kelly. That looks like that’s it for us. Thanks so much for sharing these secrets behind the scene stuff. I’ve used that word a lot but you’ve experienced a lot of success with Facebook and I think this was really great advice for people like me who are trying to plan and get more engaging Facebook content out there so thank you, I appreciate it a lot.
Kelly: Good, absolutely. It was nice talking to you, Nathan.
October 14, 2016