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How coaches can get more likes and followers online

Posted on | Last updated 25-11-2016
This blog is aimed at coaches, personal trainers, nutritionists and ‘industry folk’ who write social media posts, emails and blogs with the purpose of improving their reach, getting their name out there and ultimately bringing in more clients to their personal training / coaching business. 

If this is you, read on because this is important. I’m writing to you because 90% of the content I read online seems to be written by people who have completely forgotten what they are doing it for, or how to even use social media and why other people use it.

I’m not saying that folks are writing bad content – far from it – most of you are putting out some fantastic content. What I’m saying is that the content you are putting out is not fit for your purpose, your trying too hard to be liked. 

Here’s an example of what I mean in the form of a random post which I saw shared on my wall this morning, written by a local PT who I know personally. His main clientele are, as is the industry standard, females around 30-40 who want to lose weight.

This is my dinner tonight. I can already hear the shouts:

“Carbs after 6 – are you MAD? That’s going to turn straight to fat!”

Absolutely not. Let me lay down some facts… 

You may have heard the common idea that you cannot eat carbohydrate containing foods after 6pm.

This, we have been told, is because carbohydrates that you eat at night get stored as bodyfat while you sleep; when your energy output is low, but that is simply WRONG!

What matters is overall net calories in vs calories out over a 24 hour period.

I just ate this MASSIVE bowl of spaghetti, and tomorrow I’ll still wake up leaner because my overall calories are on point.

Focus your attention on overall calorie balance, and eat your carbs when you want them – it really is that easy!

A perfectly reasonable post, right? But it got 2 likes, no comments and no shares. Why is that? It could be for any number of reasons, but I think I have a good idea. Let’s look at each reason in turn.

1. It busts a myth by simply dismissing it as wrong and giving ‘the truth’

Have you ever believed something and then been told that you’re wrong? It doesn’t make most of us feel good. When we have our beliefs challenged, MOST of us get defensive. Sure, there are some folks who have read ‘How to win friends and influence people” and there are other folks who just are Zen and let these things go, but the majority of the world just don’t like being told that what they believe is wrong.

Not only that, I’m sure you’re aware that one of the main issues the general population have with getting fit in the first place is that there is so much conflicting advice out there that it becomes confusing as all hell. X says Y is right but Z says it’s wrong, it just leads to people not bothering, and by calling out a belief as being bunk, even when it is, doesn’t offer the clarity that you want it to. All you do is add to the noise.

So when you write a ‘mythbuster’ post, all you are really doing is challenging the beliefs of, and therefore alienating, the people who you are hoping at some point to turn in to paying customers. People who believe you can help them. 

You don’t get customers by alienating your market, even if you do so subtly. Which brings me to my next point.

2. The subtle brag

In this post, the coach has said that although he ate a massive meal, tomorrow he will wake up leaner. Let’s just predict the reactions to that, shall we? 

“It’s OK for you, you’re young”

“You will do, you work in a gym, it’s easy for you to exercise”

“That’s nice, but my genetics/thyroid/other perception of helplessness makes me different and thus harder for me”

We need to appreciate that our customers consider us to be different to them. As far as they are concerned we’re genetic freaks, we’re obsessed with the gym/nutrition and/or we’re just lucky or born this way. We can complain about it all we like, but that’s the way the public see us. By posting pictures of food and saying we can eat this and still be lean, the audience you are writing to don’t see that and think that we have a secret method, they see it and think we’re just “one of those people who can eat everything and never put on fat”.

In order for someone to buy from you, you have to be relatable. In order for the public to trust us to help them do what we have, we need them to know that it’s possible.

3. The “It’s easy!”

It isn’t easy though, is it? This kind of ties in with the last point. 

It might be relatively easy for us to lose or maintain weight because we have good habits, we are driven and we actually enjoy what we do, but the overweight people who are the people we are here to help are very different in this regard.

Their habits are poor, meaning that it’s going to take a monumental effort to overhaul these. Their drive to exercise is low, or they would be doing it already.

Their enjoyment of exercise is going to be somewhat limited by a general lack of competence. Their relationship with food may make it difficult to comprehend enjoying a homemade meal with chicken breast as much as they would ever enjoy a pizza.

When we say that these things are easy, we tell people that their struggles aren’t real. That their failed weight loss attempts are simply because they couldn’t try hard enough to do something which isn’t difficult. That they are rubbish. 

If I told YOU that, how likely would you be likely to give me a call and offer me money? Exactly.

What this coach is trying to do is tell his clients that calorie balance is king and that timing of the macronutrients you consume isn’t really that important. He’s approached this post from a position of ‘You’re all doing it wrong, but I have the truth’ angle but just how effective is that, really?

If you were to come across this and agree with the post, then you already know what he’s trying to tell us and if you disagree with the post and believe that timing is key, well – you’re now going to be either defensive or simply resistant to ever listening again.

This post could have been approached in a much more positive way. Perhaps he posts something like:

Are you paying attention to the big picture when it comes to your fat loss?

One thing I’ve been really guilty of in the past is looking at details but forgetting what’s important.

And when it comes to fat loss, sometimes we can all fall victim to looking at the trees rather than the forest

For example, eating fewer calories than we burn during the day will lead to what’s called a ‘calorie deficit’ whereby you need more energy to do the things you are doing, than you are providing your body via food.

This calorie burn comes from your daily activities (even if you don’t move much) as well as any exercise you do on top of that.

When this happens, your body needs to get the energy from somewhere so it mines into fat stores to get it. Over time, this leads to bodyfat loss.

Sometimes my clients get caught up in worrying if they’re eating too many carbs, eating them at the wrong time, eating too much fat, eating meals which are too big, but it’s always important to come back to the big picture.

For example, if you wanted to eat a big plate of spaghetti for dinner like this one but you didn’t want to stop your fat loss, pay attention to your total energy intake for the day. 

Because I wanted to eat this, I ate a much lighter lunch. Think of your calories like a daily budget which you can ‘spend’ throughout the day. It doesn’t matter so much when you spend it, or how much you spend at a time, so long as you don’t go over your budget you’ll always end up where you want to be. 

I saved up at lunchtime and spent more in the evening, meaning that my total account evened out.
Details can matter, of course, but keep it as simple as possible and you’ll make much more progress!

See the difference? This post is more relatable, it’s more humble, it gives actionable points and it doesn’t come across as accusatory at all – but it STILL gives over the same message.

"And really, the important thing is giving over a solid message which your potential clients can benefit from".

This then builds trust in you, and leads them to message you when they are eventually ready to get the ball rolling on changing their lifestyle.

Rather than shouting someone down, challenging a belief or busting myths, just post your own content and your own views. If you’re right and if you present it well, people will ignore the other stuff anyway.

The main thing that’s going awry here is that most coaches and trainers don’t create or properly use an Avatar when they start creating content.

An Avatar is a marketing tool which basically consists of a made up ideal customer. You give them a name, a backstory, interests, an income, some goals and a personality, then you have this one person in mind whenever you produce content or do anything with regards to marketing. When you create and know your Avatar, really know them, then creating content becomes easy. 

By far the simplest way to create an Avatar is to pick your favourite client (we all have one. Sure, we work hard for all our clients, but we have a favourite) and model it around them. It’d be great to have 20 of that client, wouldn’t it? So try to attract them.

What happens when you don’t do this is you start to worry about being judged. Your Facebook posts either become overly complicated and inaccessible or snarky in an attempt to impress your peers rather than your audience. You stop writing to your target market, and start writing to me, or to Ben, or to a bunch of personal trainers you ‘friended’ on Facebook because you want them to like your post and tell you that your information is awesome.

You might get a ton of likes. You might get some shares. If you totally rock it then perhaps Alan Aragon or Bret Contreras might share it or comment on it saying that you hit the nail on the head!

Brilliant, but I, Alan and Bret aren’t ever going to give you money to help us with our nutrition. That is the crux of this message.  

Too many coaches and fitness professionals are writing to other coaches and fitness professionals. Writing blogs with 10 references, using words like mTOR, insulin hypothesis, GLUT-4 and leptin, in the hopes that people who will never give you money like or share it and tell you that you’re spot on. If your market is other trainers and you’re hoping to educate them in return for money then that is fantastic, but the vast majority of us are working with the public. It’s not all about money, of course, but Facebook Likes don’t pay your bills.

And what’s even worse, many fantastic and knowledgeable coaches are afraid to put content out in case some other personal trainer rails in and tells them that their message is obvious. Too few coaches and fitness professionals are considering their Avatar, their actual target audience, when they think about posting out content. What is obvious to you is probably a complete mindblowing bit of information to those who actually matter. 

It doesn’t matter that you have heard it so many times that it’s like telling you that grass is green, many people in the general population don’t know the benefits of a high protein intake, they don’t know that granola has an insane amount of calories, they don’t know that filling up on vegetables is a great way to stay full and not feel like you’re starving all the time. 

Stop writing to me. 

Stop trying to impress fitness professionals. 

Stop trying to be liked by your peers and market to the people that need your services.

Start thinking what your Avatar doesn’t know which can benefit them, and then think of a way to package that information in a manner which is accessible, memorable, actionable and understandable. When you do that, content will be easier to write, more helpful for your audience and more effective at bringing in clients – which is a pretty strong win-win! 

Want to learn more about this and more?

The BTN Business Academy, where we teach all this stuff, is starting really soon: in the first week of December. During the Academy we will be breaking down the way in which coaches and PT’s can create and use an Avatar to form every aspect of their business, from their marketing content, to their marketing platform, the products they offer, their prices and even their method of communicating with those they work with.

We’ll help you waste less time, waste less energy and headspace, and be effective rather than just busy.

We cover all of this in an actionable and usable manner which you can start to implement immediately to bring in more revenue, and be more confident with driving your business forward.

It’s a small investment for increased income, greater peace of mind and significantly improved results for the clients who depend on you.

The syllabus and sign up form can be found at the link below, check it out here.

Oh, and stop telling potential clients that they can still eat a cookie every now and then while still losing weight. They know that – WeightWatchers has been saying that for years…

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Join Tom and Ben from BTN on Ben Coomber Radio to learn all about nutrition, performance, health, and the latest science. A mix of guest and co-hosted shows. You'll learn a ton.

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