Drop it Like a Squat: Five PR Lessons from Fitness Influencers

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If you have an interest, you can bet that there is an Instagram influencer or two that share it. For me, that interest is fitness. Every time I open Instagram’s “explore” tab, I find myself scrolling through hundreds of inspiring workout videos and gym selfies. While this serves as great motivation to get active, it also can be overwhelming. It seems impossible to stand out in the growing crowd of people jumping on the healthy living trend and documenting their journeys.

Despite this onslaught of all things healthy, a few fitness fanatics have risen to the top to become Instagram’s most popular fitness influencers. These are the ones you see donning perfectly matching workout outfits and sharing everything from yoga to CrossFit. They definitely didn’t reach hundreds of thousands of followers without putting in the work. From a sweat session in the gym to sweating over their captions, these influencers put as much thought and effort into their personal brands as they do their bodies.

While I can’t offer the magic pill, detox tea or body wrap that can help you reach Instagram stardom, here are five lessons that we can learn from the top fitness influencers.

Be active.

No — not the treadmill and weights kind of active. One of the most important factors for building a popular, recognizable brand is to offer creative and interesting content on a regular basis. Posting frequencies vary from multiple posts per day to just one or two posts per week but no matter the number, top influencers are always popping up in their followers’ home tab thanks to consistent posting. In addition to creating content, popular fitness stars contribute regularly to the conversation surrounding health and wellness. They reply to comments on their posts, comment on other health-related posts and typically offer an email address or other means by which their followers can connect with them.

Show them brawn AND brains.

Followers turn to fitness influencers for much more than a little inspiration. They are seen as real experts in health and wellness and people will utilize any advice that they give. Top performing influencers take this responsibility seriously and use their accounts to offer real nutrition, exercise and overall wellness tips. As a “workoutaholic,” influencers have plenty of knowledge that could help others along their fitness journey. Sharing it in creative and entertaining ways is the best way to earn clout and quickly move up in this saturated field.

#Ads make followers #sad.

Have you ever seen a post that just screamed “ad?” Research has shown that younger generations hate ads now more than ever so turning your persona into a walking, talking fitness advertisement is a bad idea. Of course, popular accounts are sponsored by health and wellness brands but that doesn’t mean that they have to plaster those brands across their followers’ screens. Instead, popular accounts will display their sponsors in creative ways, like offering a recipe for a new protein smoothie using their sponsor’s product. The less ad-like that the photo and caption sound, the more well-received the post will be.

Quit flexin’ on ‘em.

No one likes a show-off. Videos of workouts in airports, grocery stores and all other weird non-gym places are simply for the ‘gram and not reflective of a real fitness regimen. The truly inspirational influencers are those who you can strive to emulate. Additionally, top influencers never claim to be something they are not. Not a registered dietician/personal trainer/physique competitor? It’s fine, you don’t have to be. The only requirement is that you are open and honest about who you are, what you know and where you’ve been on your fitness journey. This type of transparency builds trust and follower loyalty while ultimately growing your number of followers.

Be humble, be personable and be real.

Kendrick Lamar is not the only person sick and tired of the Photoshop. The Instagram fitness community wants to see things that are real and accounts that strike a balance between health and regular life soar to the top. People flock to health and wellness accounts for motivation and inspiration and what’s more inspiring than seeing someone who is just like you getting their sweat on? Go ahead and share that you have three cats, that finals week is running you ragged or that your favorite cheat meal is frozen yogurt with extra hot fudge. Followers will feel more connected to you not just as a gym rat but as their friendly, relatable gym rat.

Whether you’d like to start a fitness Instagram account or you’re more interested in “fitness” whole pizza in your mouth, we can all learn from these common practices of successful health and wellness influencers.

What do your favorite Instagram influencers do that attracted you to their accounts? Let me know in the comments section!

Bethany Corne is a senior pursuing a dual degree in public relations and marketing at the University of Alabama. When she’s not working out, she’s most likely watching Alabama football, drinking a Diet Coke or hanging out with her PRSSbAes. If you want to talk about PR, fast cars or anything in between, you can find her on Instagram @bethanyyyc14, email or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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