3 Ways to Use Social Media Contests for Member Engagement

hand holding mobile device with social media icons

You may be sick of hearing how social media has a significant impact on your outreach, but having an online presence outside of your website is not negotiable for your business’s current member engagement and lead generation. Running social media platform-specific contests, in addition to sharing student highlights and news, gives prospects an easy way to get an insider’s glimpse.

Use these three social spaces for your contest campaigns.

1. Facebook: The Community Builder

The basics: Facebook should be the foundation of your social media strategy. As you know, the multi-faceted platform has capacities for public and private groups, invitations, messaging, and more. Because Facebook is a dynamic community space, it may take time to build an audience if you don’t already have one. On the other hand, this versatility makes Facebook the perfect environment for social media contests.

Keep that dynamic element in mind when designing a Facebook giveaway that meets your business’s goals. Avoid running a contest that is overly complex and deterring participants. Set a timeframe with rules for your contest and stick to it—no exceptions. Examples include:

  • photo caption contests,
  • page likes contests, and
  • post sharing contests.

Level up: Use paid posts and ads to reach a larger audience.

2. Twitter: Be the Buzz Through Mirco-Messaging

The basics: Twitter is a more competitive social space that needs timeliness, relevancy, and frequency for success. It can be difficult to reach an audience due to these factors, but if you have a strong base of followers, you’ll see results.

Giveaways are particularly easy due to retweets, or Twitter’s re-blogging feature. An easy example of a Twitter contest is:

  • The first five people to retweet will receive a prize of your choice (pick something that is relevant to your marketing goals).

Level up: Reach out to your friends, family, and professional connections for retweets and mentions. Paid Twitter ads also are an option.

3. Instagram: Interactive Photo Sharing

The basics: The fitness and martial arts industries have a strong presence on Instagram. The visual element and the more personable feel of the platform are great for persuasive messaging—which makes Instagram our favorite place for social media contests. Common contests on Instagram include:

  • photo captions and
  • having contestants tag friends in the comments section.

Level up: Use “non-designer” graphic design tools like Canva to create your own images. Make sure you brand everything you create with your gym’s or martial art school’s name in case someone shares what you post. Because paid posts on Facebook integrate with Instagram, you have the option to run any contest promotions concurrently on two platforms.

Already social savvy and want more strategy? Take it a step further into forum spaces like Reddit. Being a regular contributor to threads relating to your discipline will help you network with others for additional ideas.

Grow Your Martial Arts School During Back-to-School

Tools to Grow Your Martial Arts School

How you prepare for the back-to-school season can dictate the success of your martial arts business for the entire year. Take a look at our top picks for back-to-school tips and tools.

1) Email Marketing & Text Messaging

Launch an email campaign to target members who were inactive or dropped out over the Summer. Consider pairing your emails with text messages that include special offers for returning students.

  • Member Manager Software – Martial arts software that includes email marketing, lead tracking, and follow-up
  • iContact – Email marketing platform (integrates with Member Manager)
  • Mobiry – Text message-based coupons and promotional codes (integrates with Member Manager)

2) Back-to-School Events

Plan buddy days, community events, anti-bullying talks, and PTO seminars to engage with active students and to attract new prospects.

3) Websites & Web Advertising

Before the fall, invest in optimizing your site to increase your traffic and leads. During back-to-school season, temporarily increase your Google Ads bids to drive even more people to your site.

  • 97 Display – Internet marketing agency that creates martial arts and fitness websites that grow member counts
  • FC Online Marketing – Custom-designed martial arts websites that increase enrollment
  • Google Ads – Advertising platform for Google Search, YouTube, Maps, and more

4) Social Media

Before the back-to-school season, put together your social media strategy. Train your staff on how you want them to use social media. Get everyone in the habit of posting regularly. Make use of social media advertising.

5) Operations

If you keep your school running smoothly, you’re far less likely to receive complaints from your members. Not to mention, you’ll simplify your job as a school owner and be a better teacher and leader because of it.

  • Member Manager Software – All-in-one business management software for lead generation, scheduling, point of sale, billing, and more
  • Member Solutions Billing – Martial arts billing, payment processing, and membership contract management (integrates with Member Manager)
  • Intuit Quickbooks – Accounting software (integrates with Member Manager)
  • Sage 50 – Accounting software (integrates with Member Manager)
  • MAIA Edge – The leading educational resource in the martial arts industry. Get the latest information on recruiting, retention, and revenue to continue growing your school.

Incorporate these tools into your back-to-school strategy to grow your school’s memberships and maximize your earnings this fall.


How to Start Using Facebook Ads for Martial Arts Marketing

Facebook login screen on mobile device with social media in tiled letters on wooden desk

Confused about Facebook ads? You’re not the only one.

Back in 2010, I began using Facebook ads to get likes on one of my Facebook business pages.

I went in determined to get results, but as a direct marketing student and practitioner, I also knew I wouldn’t keep doing it if it didn’t work. I read through numerous Facebook help sections and did my due diligence, but I was still a little arrogant and impatient. I thought: I’ve been marketing my martial arts schools and other businesses since 1998. I’ve been using internet marketing and selling online for almost five years. Running a Facebook d will be a piece of cake.

I quickly learned that running a Facebook ad is not like search marketing. Being big on the call-to-action or CTA (words that prompt your readers to take immediate action), I thought my same CTAs would work with Facebook Ads. However, I was wrong.

Facebook ads are more strategic. They require more patience. The Facebook user is not looking for you as in search when someone types martial arts program in Chicago into Google. You have to get their attention, but you have to get their attention in a way that doesn’t make Facebook mad at you. Before I truly understand Facebook ads, at least one out three of my ads were rejected.

Then, I turned the corner and got serious. I dove in to learn everything I could (and I’m still learning). Most importantly, I quickly implemented what I learned. As test results came in, I made adjustments to my ads.

The truth is the adjustments will never, and should never, stop. That’s the real fun of Facebook advertising: you always can make adjustments to the text, to images, and to the web pages to which you drive prospects in efforts to improve ad performance.

After two years of testing, tweaking, and writing my own book on Facebook advertising, I”m still learning. While none of this Facebook ads marketing is “cookie-cutter”, the initial approach when first launching Facebook ads is relatively the same.

Let’s explore the first step a martial arts business needs to take when marketing with Facebook ads.

Get Your Students & Your Non-Students to “Like” You on Facebook

After your network of friends, colleagues, and students “like” your page, you will likely end up stuck at a certain number of likes. I call this the “Like Barrier.” Fortunately, there are a couple ways to beat it.

The fact is your Facebook page really must be used for more than just telling your students that you are closed due to the weather. Your school’s Facebook page must be a mix of students – those who will cheer you on while being your core audience in addition to non-students who will become students.

If your current students don’t already follow you on Facebook, make sure you frequently encourage it. One way is to communicate that you have a Facebook page. Add a notice to your student eNewsletter, mention it before and after class, and hand out flyers to students.

Facebook Ads to Reach Prospects

To reach prospects, you first need to determine if your goal is to increase your likes or if it is to generate leads for your services and programs. You could run a Facebook ad to promote your introductory programs or seasonal offers, such as a Back-to-School promotion or a New Years’ Get in Shape special.

Alternatively, you can run Facebook ads to increase your likes. What’s the benefit of increasing likes? The more likes you have, the more interaction you will have on your Facebook page. The more interaction you have, the more social proof you build for prospective students who are considering joining your school.

Be warned: Increasing page likes – whether with current students or with prospective students – comes with the added duty of consistently updating your Facebook business page. A Facebook ad strategy must have a content strategy behind it.

Once you’ve determined your goal (to promote your business offerings or to increase likes), identify who you want to target with your ad. Do you want parents? Good. Determine your geographic radius and age group. Think about the interests of your best target market and act.

Remember your ad text must have a simple message. Avoid “salesy” phrasing.

Every ad must lead to a landing page (also called a lead capture page). It’s a web page that includes persuasive sales copy and an embedded form to “capture” the lead’s contact information.

To review:

  1. Get the word out to your current students to increase your likes.
  2. Build an ad to reach prospective students. If you need some help, give me a shout.

About the author: Mike Dolpies has been helping martial arts school owners with Marketing and Internet Marketing since 2006. He started his first school in 1998 when he was 18 years-old. He’s the author of 5 books and operates Martial Arts Business System. His latest book, Don’t Suck @Facebook Ads! is available on Amazon.com. For complimentary ad training, visit http://www.cyberspacetoyourplace.com/fb/


100 Martial Arts Students in 90 Days: A Marketing Must-Do List

Woman looking at Member Solutions Facebook page on laptop while having coffee

Marketing is one of the important keys to a successful Martial Arts school. Unfortunately, many school owners get overwhelmed and lost in all the options that are out there.

When I planned to open my second location in March 2014, I knew a solid marketing plan would be key to a successful launch. Utilizing the marketing skills I learned, I was able to grow our school to 100 students in the first 90 days. (When I say students, I am referring to on contract students.)

Although I have a long list of marketing techniques, Facebook is my specialty and the one that yields the best results. The other vital part of our marketing plan includes running and attending community events.

Here’s my list of eight marketing must-dos for getting 100 students in 90 days:

1. A Solid Facebook Business Page

Your business page should have lots of details about your school, a great cover photo, hours of operation, lots of pictures and all the details you can offer. Create daily posts that provide value such as safety tips, homework tips and pictures of students in class.

2. Student Groups

As soon as a potential student asks for information, they should be added to the group. In addition to the content and relationship-building strategies in that group, twice a month, ask members to share your Groupon or web special.

3. Other Key Facebook Groups

Business Networking
Most communities now have business networking groups on Facebook. Joining these groups has high value as other small business owners are also looking for low-cost marketing tips. They also want to support others like themselves. Each group has its own rules such as posting once a day to once a week. You may share events, web deals and openings in your schedule. It’s also a great way to build rapport with other owners and see how you can help them. With the relationships I have built, the groups I am part of aggressively help promote events and specials I have.

Most towns now also have their own Facebook group for those who live in the town. Most of them allow local business owners in also. Sharing valuable content inside of this group is perfect. (i.e. bully safety tips, fitness tips, safety tips) Twice a month, depending on the rules, invite community members to try classes or attend an event. Make sure though you “give” good content to those people inside the group weekly.

Yard Sale Groups
People inside of this group are looking to buy something and are also looking for deals. Once a week, post your web special, Groupon, Living Social, Amazon Local deal, etc.

Vendor Groups
We are in the relationship business and nothing sells your groups faster than face-to-face time. Fairs and vendor events are one of our BEST ways outside of Facebook to get to know people and introduce them to our programs. Being inside of a group like this simplifies your search for events to set up tables. Also, when you host events like open houses, you can invite people to set up tables with their products at your event for a fee.

4. Vendor Events – Book Five Each Month

You should strive to have five opportunities each month to be out in the community with a table that represents your school and brand.

When participating in events that specialize in kids, I like to have a prize wheel. Kids love the idea of spinning the wheel and winning prizes! Some of the prizes include: a break a board/free pizza party for the child and 10 of their friends, a free Nerf battle party for the child and 10 of their friends, and free classes.

If the event is an adult-based event, we have information for our programs and put our energies into building rapport and getting to know people. This allows them to get to know us and see how much we care about people and their goals.

5. Birthday/VIP/Pizza Party Events – Book Four Each Month

Each month, you should have at least four parties. The goal would be first paid birthday parties. We also host the parties won from the prize wheel at the events prior, because the parties from the prize wheel tend to be “colder” leads.

We set specific times and days for the parties and book up to 10 at a time. This will vary for your school and area. You can also do student of the month or free parties for the community. Last month I had openings at our new facility, so I posted into my business network groups that I had two openings and filled them with qualified non-students.

6. School Talks – Book Three Each Month

Each month, we strive to either be in the schools, boy scouts, girl scouts, cub scouts, after school programs, etc. doing our school talks. Getting three of them booked is the goal.

7. Outside School Events – Book Two Each Month

A women’s self-defense seminar taught at the local college is an example of an outside school event. We have a great partnership with the local “dance ranch”, a popular bar and dance club. Once a quarter, they have us come in and invite all of their patrons to a free self-defense seminar on a night they are usually closed.

8. In-House Event – Book One Each Month

An in-house event could be an open house, a kids buddy day, an adult buddy day, a self-defense seminar, a buddy parents night out or a new member party. This type of event is something that allows current students to invite non-students.

You’re On Your Way!

These eight key areas are things I make sure the teams in my school are doing every month to ensure the success of our schools and that new members are constantly coming in the door.

You can find more ideas and suggestions by checking out my Facebook page, The Martial Arts Buzz, or my website www.themartialartsbuzz.com.

About the author: Alexandria Buzzell has been involved in the Martial Arts since she was a teenager and it’s still her main passion. She opened her first school in 2008. Utilizing her creative marketing techniques and developing social media skills, she grew that location to 350+ members. Alexandria opened her second location in March 2014 and grew the school to 100 students in just 90 days.