TABLE TALK DISCUSSIONS
 
What Jiu-Jiteiros Can Learn from a Non-Profit’s Social Media Campaign (Part 3 of 3) THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #124 VIEW NOW >

What Jiu-Jiteiros Can Learn from a Non-Profit’s Social Media Campaign (Part 3 of 3)

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What Jiu-Jiteiros Can Learn from a Non-Profit’s Social Media Campaign (Part 2 of 3) THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #123 VIEW NOW >

By Marshal D. Carper

Last week, we talked about the basic goals of social media and of community building, using my work with a non-profit as an example case study. As you begin to develop your strategy, creating and empowering advocates should be the core of your social media activities, and that core is strengthened through a variety of tactics. Having an active Facebook page may help you turn gym members into passionate advocates, but the real process starts offline, within the walls of the gym.

On this front, Junior Achievement was well ahead of most organizations turning to social media to boost the impact of their marketing efforts. Junior Achievement has been working in the community for decades, and their alumni are sprinkled across the world. They are reasonably well-known and respected, and they host numerous events for a wide range of community members. Offline, Junior Achievement’s community is thriving. It is vibrant and healthy, and everyone involved is happy and passionate about the organization. Their social media was weak because they had not made the effort to make their online presence match their rich physical presence.

Instructor jiu-jiteiros should keep this in mind: your online presence is a reflection of your offline presence.

Prospects will judge your gym based on the quality of your website and the quality of your online content. It may not be the only deciding factor, but it plays a part. If your school was a top of the line high performance engine, you would want a body and an eye-catching paintjob to match. Your website and your social media is that slick exterior. If your exterior is a beat-up station wagon with a cardboard spoiler gorilla glued to the back, no one is going to take your engine—the real hero—seriously, and the ones that do are still going to ask you to park around the corner when you pick them up after school because, frankly, you’re embarrassing.

Establishing a healthy offline community—the engine—is step one, and that is a subject worth many other articles. Essentially, your students should know that their instructors care about them, they should feel as though they are part of a team and that the health and success of their training partners is just as much a priority as their own, they should feel like they are making progress, and they should be having fun (smiles, laughter, and extended mat chit-chat sessions are all good signs).

If your gym community has all four of those traits, you can begin to build an online community that reflects the awesomeness of the offline one. Set up a Facebook page, if you have not already, and fill it with pictures and videos of anything related to your gym: promotions, seminars, competitions, team picnics, etc. Tag everyone that you can. Next, set aside time to make at least one post a day of content of some sort—articles or videos or pictures or association news, something that your students can talk about.

After about a week of consistent content, hang a flier in the gym that encourages your students to log on to the Facebook page. Better yet, give them a reason to visit the page by asking them to give their feedback on a new t-shirt design, on what should be covered in Tuesday’s class, on who their favorite fighter of all time is—anything that will stimulate interaction. Remember: a community is built on conversation. Everything you do with your social media community should be focused on stimulating participation. You can post announcements on your Facebook, but they should be a small fraction of your total social media content.

Maintain the richness of your online community by continuing to provide your students with content day after day. While this sounds like it could be a challenge, it should not take you more than 15 minutes to find an article or video to post (subscribe to multiple jiu-jitsu RSS feeds to have a steady stream of content). At the same time, develop your own content to share. Is someone getting striped today? Take a picture and post it. Shoot a quick video on a flip camera of some students rolling or of an instructor teaching a technique. Record testimonials. Type up workouts. Share upcoming tournament schedules.  Talk about local news and sports.

Like it or not, you are the host and social media is your party. If nobody is having a good time, it’s your fault. Bake some cookies. Decorate. Try that new bruschetta recipe that you read in Home & Garden… okay, that metaphor got away from me but you know what I mean.

Your students already have these conversations in the gym. Now you are replicating that experience online and making those small conversations available to every other student. Keep your students engaged with your gym even when they aren’t training by facilitating these conversations.

Next week, to complete this series on jiu-jitsu social media, we will talk about how to empower your advocates, leveraging your community to attract new members to the gym.

Marshal D. Carper is the author the Cauliflower Chronicles: A Grappler’s Tale of Self-Discovery and Island Living and the co-author of Marcelo Garcia’s Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques. Visit his website at MarshalDCarper.com to read more about social media and jiu-jitsu.

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What Jiu-Jiteiros Can Learn from a Non-Profit’s Social Media Campaign (Part 1 of 3) THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #122 VIEW NOW >

By Marshal D. Carper

 

Junior Achievement is an international non-profit that teaches children about business and financial literacy. They foster entrepreneurism and teach money management. Their programs have been proven to increase scholastic performance and reduce dropout rates, and they do a lot of good for the communities connected to their respective chapters, but with federal funding becoming increasingly sparse, Junior Achievement is relying more and more on fundraising to keep their doors open and their programs alive.

 

I recently helped the Western Pennsylvania chapter of Junior Achievement use social media to generate awareness for one of its largest annual fundraisers: a raffle for a package of season tickets for a variety of Pittsburgh sports teams. We boosted revenue by 9% over the previous year, and from the point that we launched the social media portion of the campaign to the time that the fundraiser ended, we raised $60,000.

 

What does a non-profit’s fundraiser have to do with jiu-jitsu?  A lot, actually. Their campaign serves as a case study, a model that other community-driven organizations can learn from.

 

Social media marketing is more than a new trend; it’s a powerful community building tool. Community building occurs in two stages: strengthening the loyalty of existing members and growing the community by acquiring new members. Your gym is a community, and incorporating social media into your gym culture can make that community stronger and healthier.

 

Community building as a form of marketing can sound dishonest, like you are using your students to turn a profit, but that’s not the case. By focusing on community, you are focusing on creating an environment that people enjoy being in and a lifestyle that people are proud to champion. A high quality community creates happy people, who gladly share the things that make them happy with their other communities: friends, family, coworkers, Facebook followers, Twitter followers, running buddies, etc.

 

It’s a win for your students and a win for your business. No advertisement is more powerful than a word of mouth recommendation for your gym.

 

Creating Advocates

 

Marketers often talk about engagement and advocates because consumers in this decade are paying less and less attention to traditional advertising. They skip through television commercials. They use ad-blockers when they read news online. And they do not open junk mail. Traditional advertising is like Shoney Carter; it’s just not as relevant as it used to be. Consumers today trust recommendations from friends and from people that they respect more than anything else.

 

When I analyzed Junior Achievement’s marketing efforts, I found that they were primarily broadcasting. They would send out messages—status updates, Tweets, or newsletters—but they were not engaging their audience. They were not encouraging conversation or motivating their supporters to talk to their friends about Junior Achievement or its fundraisers. They were making a big difference in the lives of children across western Pennsylvania, but they were not facilitating conversations about their work.

 

Once we established our goals, I immediately changed their approach to social media. We used Twitter and HootSuite to identify people talking about topics important to Junior Achievement, and we entered their conversations as an expert on those topics. We then launched a re-Tweet contest to encourage our current followers to share our updates with their friends. As our existing followers and our new followers saw that our Twitter was more active and more interesting, the re-Tweets steadily increased, picking up more and more speed with each day. On Facebook, we shared articles relevant to Junior Achievement and to the fundraiser, which facilitated thoughtful conversation from our current followers. As more and more people commented on our content, more of their friends saw the activity in their feeds and came to the Facebook page to participate.

 

Essentially, we made the Junior Achievement Twitter and Facebook pages worth visiting and reading. Announcements are okay sometimes, but if someone clicks to your gym’s Facebook page and all they see is a stream of “no-gi is cancelled Friday” and “don’t miss training today!” they are going to click away faster than a Ken Shamrock fake tap out, which is the same challenge that Junior Achievement faced. On the other hand, if someone visits your Facebook page and sees content like videos, articles, and photos and your students talking about that content, they are more likely to stay and to get to know your community.

 

For prospects, this demonstrates a lively and attractive community, which could increase their interesting in trying your gym. For current students, an active Facebook presence builds loyalty. Being a part of your gym is a lifestyle. They may only be in class three times a week, but they are participating in the community every day through Facebook. They check the page at work for new content or share their own. They talk with their friends at the gym through comment streams. They get to feel like they are a part of something special even when they are not in the gym, which builds their attachment and their commitment. At the same time, all of your students’ activity on your page is broadcasted to their friends who may not train (yet) via feed updates.

 

By making gym membership a lifestyle, you help to make your students passionate about training. Passionate people talk about their passions. They invite their friends to participate. They buy t-shirts. They put stickers on their cars. They gladly advocate for the brands that they love. Giving your students a way to grow and foster that passion outside of their gym is good for your community.

 

Next week we will talk about how to build an awesome online community and how to connect it to your offline community so that they are a continuation of the same community experience.

 

Marshal D. Carper is the author the Cauliflower Chronicles: A Grappler’s Tale of Self-Discovery and Island Living and the co-author of Marcelo Garcia’s Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques. Visit his website at MarshalDCarper.com to read more about social media and jiu-jitsu.

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TAKEN BACK: The Transition From Wrestling To BJJ THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #066 VIEW NOW >

When I was sixteen, after a night of "Quarters" with some friends in the beach town where I spent my school vacations, I found myself near the dunes with a pretty girl I'd been pining for all summer. After bearing with my fumbling for a half hour or so, she took control of the situation and pushed me to my back, smiling as she closed in.

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Loyalty in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – What is a Creonte Anyway? THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #060 VIEW NOW >

For better or worse, Facebook has made millions of private squabbles public. Years ago when we had an issue with someone we could vent to a few close friends and forgot about it, or we could confront the problem directly and deal with it. Now it seems the preferred method of dealing with difficult issues is to take thinly veiled shots at your adversaries on your Facebook wall. This is how I first heard the term “Creonte”.

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Aspiring MMA Fighter? BJJ Isn't a Magic Bullet THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #053 VIEW NOW >

A lot of Brazilian jiu-jitsu’s explosive growth over the last 20 years can be attributed to Royce Gracie’s wins in the first few Ultimate Fighting Championships. Years ago, when I was a blue belt, I remember watching matches in the UFC and getting really frustrated, thinking to myself, ‘That guy’s right open, just arm-bar him!” Now that I’ve competed in MMA matches myself, I realize that the sport is very, very different from jiu-jitsu.

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What Makes the Perfect Jiu Jitsu Coach? THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #052 VIEW NOW >
Arguably, the single most important influence in determining the potential greatness of a Jiu Jitsu fighter is their instructor. The right coach can make or break an athlete. A good one will elevate an athlete beyond what they ever thought imaginable. The wrong one can cause a person to leave the sport forever. So what attributes does the perfect coach possess?
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Posturing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #046 VIEW NOW >

When I say I posture I mean the body language and presence of your opponent, and his affect on your game.  In other words you’re about to spar with a tatted up, 4% body fat,  mean looking dude and your body and mind are going into overdrive.

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My Jiu-Jitsu Lifestyle THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #036 VIEW NOW >

What exactly is the Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle?

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Is BJJ a Martial Art? THIS POST CAN BE SEE IN Issue #029 VIEW NOW >

Is BJJ a Martial Art?

It seems like a silly question at first. BJJ is a fighting system, and other martial arts are fighting systems. BJJ can trace its roots to Japan where many of these ‘traditional martial arts’ come from. So why wouldn’t Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu be considered a martial art?

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