The Ultimate Guide to Social Media for Yoga Teachers
By: Genevieve Coulson
With so much of society almost reaching the point of social media overload diving into this fast-paced world can seem a little daunting. For yoga teachers it may even seem a little counter-intuitive with the way you live the rest of your life.
However, as a yoga teacher you truly are your own business and in today’s business climate having a social media presence makes a world of difference. The key is to find a style that is authentic to you, and knowing how to navigate the initial entry into the Wild West of this bizarre virtual world.
In this article I will break down social media engagement into six easy-to-understand keys.
Almost like learning your ABC’s we’ll be focusing on 5 W’s and an H.
WHO - Who are you trying to reach?
WHAT - What kind of content should you be posting?
WHEN - When are the best times to post?
WHERE - Where should you be posting?
WHY - Why be active on social media?
HOW - How do you go about posting/scheduling/creating?
When engaging on social media it’s important to have an audience in mind; who are you trying to reach? Who are you speaking to? For teachers, it can be helpful to think of this first in narrow terms and then in broad ones.
Narrowly, you might be speaking to your current students - people you already know, who already take your classes. You might be speaking to your local community.
On a broader level think beyond those you have immediate access to. What about all the people in your area who haven’t taken a class with you? What about businesses/brands you enjoy and like to support? What about other professionals that inspire you?
Defining an audience gives you guidance for content, voice, and style. Think about this group of people and what kind of content they would like to see.
What does this mean? Here’s an example -- If you wanted to speak specifically to vegans you wouldn’t post picture after picture of yourself devouring a rack of ribs. As you begin to create an idea of who you want to speak to, you will have more direction in deciding what kind of content you post.
If people aren’t used to posting on social media the question of “what should I post” might not be so simply answered. With so much happening on social media these days the most important thing to remember is to simply be YOU.
Don’t try and emulate some other account. Be mindful of what you post but don’t let it get to the point where it no longer rings true with you.
Authenticity is key. I know it can feel scary or uncomfortable to put bits of yourself and your life out into the digital world but it can open up endless possibilities if you do.
Content can be broken down into three categories:
1. Share posts #repost
2. “Self-promotion” posting
3. Beyond yoga (sharing who you are, giving a glimpse into your life, what things excite/inspire you?)
Share posts are like they sound, you are sharing content/post from another account. Today there are a variety of mobile apps that make this easy to do (suggestion: Repost). When you repost, or share a post, you are not only giving recognition to that person/account you are also tapping into their social media network. This allows you to exponentially increase the reach and visibility of your own account.
Think of the ripple effect (you touch one point, and it reverberates out to touch many others). With a shared post you are making one “touch” but the ripples caused are endless as you tap into the following of the account you shared from.
Sounding a little fuzzy? Here’s an example -- You recently discovered an awesome new yoga mat from major brand YogaABC (10k followers). You could tell a friend about it and they might go and tell a few of theirs - reach/effect = minimal; OR you could share a post from YogaABC tagging (more on this in the HOW section) them in the post and tapping into their 10k followers network. Now your post has the potential to be seen by at least 10 thousand accounts instead of just a handful.
Sharing posts from other accounts or places (websites, digital magazines, blogs, etc) allows you to exponentially increase the amount of people seeing your content -- the more people who are seeing your content, the better chance for increased engagement and conversations, which lead to conversions (ie getting people to take your yoga class, subscribe to your blog, follow your newsletter etc).
“Self-promotion” this is one that seems to be the biggest obstacle for a lot of yogis. This idea of self-promotion can feel just plain awkward, but the bottom line is that as a yoga teacher you are your own business! Chances are it took a lot of time, dedication, and money, to get where you are today -- aren’t you worthy of a little recognition?
I certainly think so, and chances are there’s a whole world of people out there who do to -- you just have to give them a chance to virtually “meet” you. It can be as simple as just letting people know where you’re teaching and when!
Thinking out of the box, and off the mat. While people will return to a specific instructor largely because of their teaching style they will also return due to a connection they feel. People want to relate to you, they want to feel a connection and embrace some shared ground. Share bits of yourself beyond “yoga teacher”.
What are favorite quotes? What books are you currently reading? Do you have a favorite coffee shop? What does your home look like? Do you have furry companions? The list goes on and on.
Adding in content that is authentic to you keeps your account fresh, inviting, and genuine. People engaging on social media often look for two main things; to be educated and to be entertained. If you come across an inspirational quote you enjoy - post it! You never know who might be inspired by it as well. If you made a really amazing dinner one night that you’re proud of - post it! Someone might have been looking for a new recipe or dinner motivation and you may have just given them exactly what they were looking for. Maybe you’re feeling a little low, you can post about that too! Just because you’re a yoga teacher doesn’t mean you’re always sunshine and roses, feelings (the whole messy spectrum of them) are normal and natural.
Letting people see a vulnerable side makes you that much more relatable.
One of the most important things with social media is consistency. If you want to build up your social followings you have to be posting consistently. This means posting once a month doesn’t cut it. It also means posting 87 times one month and then three times the next doesn’t work either. Give yourself small (attainable) goals to hit. Maybe that’s a minimum of three posts a week, maybe it’s ten. Whatever your number define it and stick with it (feel free to exceed expectations and go above and beyond). It can be helpful to think of posting times in terms of when people generally browse social media -- start of the day/early morning; lunch break/midday, and evening/after work.
Now that you have an idea of when to be posting you might be wondering, but where should I actually post? For yoga teachers (and yoga in general) the two most effective/engaged with platforms are, Facebook and Instagram. Yoga is a wonderfully visual subject and Instagram is a predominantly visual platform.
Facebook is a wonderful place to connect with people, especially on the local level. Remember the idea of “share posting”? Facebook makes this incredibly easy to do with their Pages section.
Think of individuals/brands/businesses that you personally enjoy and Like their pages. Then you can run through the Pages feed and Share posts that speak to you. You can also create Events (wonderful to draw attention to classes and workshops you might be running or a part of). Instagram is the perfect place to showcase all your neat yoga asanas, favorite quotes, pictures of walks with the dog, standout meals, etc. all those neat little visuals you see throughout the day -- this is the place to share them. Using tools like the Repost app makes share posting on this platform very user-friendly. Instagram thrives on the use of the hashtag (more on this in the HOW section). When working on your Instagram profile be mindful of an overall theme. What’s the story you want to tell when people come to your profile?
If social media isn’t something you naturally gravitate towards you might be asking yourself, what’s the point?
Here’s the thing, not that long ago people thought of social media as a place to post pictures of Friday nights with friends. Now, you’re hard-pressed to find a business without a social presence. Everything from the obvious like retailers and e-commerce businesses to the less obvious, like commercial painting and auto window tinting -- if you can think of a business there’s a good chance they’re on social media.
Remember as a yoga teacher YOU are your business! Even if you work with/for a studio increasing visibility of your “brand” (you and your offerings) helps to benefit not only you but the studios you teach at. Think of it as sharing the love. The more you put yourself out there the more chances for you to be reached and received.
The trend of social media doesn’t appear to be dwindling anytime soon so look at is as the amazing connector that it has the potential to be. Your social media presence should be an extension of you, and your voice. The more people you connect with the more chances you have for reaching new people to attend your latest workshop, new class offering, or retreat -- the possibilities are endless (remember the ripples...)!
Now that we’ve worked our way through the W’s you may be wondering how in the world are you expected to stay on top of all of this? Here’s where the “how” comes into play. If you’re using the suggested platforms (even just one or the other is a step in the right direction) there are some great scheduling tools available so you don’t have to be worried about getting in and posting something every day.
Facebook has a scheduler built right into the page. You simply create a post like you normally would but instead of hitting Post you go to the calendar icon (or drop down arrow, depending on version) and schedule your posts. This is a great way to make sure you’re hitting your minimum number of posts per week. Even setting aside a half hour to an hour on Sunday evening (or any day that works for you) as a scheduling time will allow you to rest easy the rest of the week
knowing you have posts being published. Instagram doesn’t make it quite as simple right in the platform but there are plenty of external tools that allow you to schedule posts like you do in Facebook. My favorite is OnlyPult. It allows you to create and schedule posts just as you did on your Facebook. If you’re only posting a few times a week on Instagram you can also feel free to do it straight in the platform. Having an idea of a schedule is helpful but don’t get hung up on it. While we’re talking Insta, we have to give a nod to hashtags -- an absolutely crucial part of Instagram engaging. Hashtags are a great way to find accounts with similar interests, tap into huge followings and increase your overall visibility.
Here are 10 of the top yoga hashtags to incorporate into your postings (typically aim for 10-20 to get strong coverage; Instagram will wipe out your caption if you post 30 or more).
I mentioned earlier that creating posts for things like favorite quotes, can also be a great visual tool. There are amazing offerings now for free tools to create enticing visuals. One of my favorites is Canva. This is a great, free visual creator that allows everyone to tap into their creative side. You can either upload your own pictures or use the wide range of backgrounds they provide. They guide you through picking the right size of image depending on the platform you want to run it on. Bold typography is one of the biggest trends of 2017 so even something as simple as “Be Kind” with appealing text and imagery can have impressive reach. Play around with things you enjoy, you might be surprised how many other people respond to them as well.
Remember “share posting”? We have one final note on it -- how to effectively do it. When you are sharing a post from another account you want to make sure that you are actively tagging the account. What does this mean? It means you are linking your post to their account. This does a few things:
1) it shows up as a notification in that account alerting them to the fact that you’ve made a post including them;
2) it links you to their following (ripple effect/exponentially increasing your reach);
3) serves as a virtual nod, if you will, to say ‘Hey, I recognize you and the work you’re doing and I want to give it a little spotlight’ -- this kind of social media behavior is well received, and more importantly, reciprocated.
For Facebook make sure that you have the @ and then begin typing the name of the person or page it should populate and Facebook will turn it into a hyperlink. For Instagram you want to make sure that the person’s handle (ex. @genevieve.c.c) is included in the caption, and you also want to tag them in the picture itself (this will create a two-fold notification for the account and increase your chances of response/engagement).
The world of social media for yoga is a massive pool of possibility. Whether you start by dipping a toe, or diving right in, the chances for connection, and increasing your success, are limitless. I hope you found this read helpful, and if nothing else know that you have at least one social media cheerleader in your corner. Time to spread your wings and make like a social butterfly!
Genevieve is a Social Media Strategist residing in Boulder, CO. When she’s not working in social media she’s teaching kids yoga, & working to further her own yoga practice & teaching. A few of her favorite things include: anything goddess, precious stones, spicy chai, a good book, drinking from coconuts, soaking up the sun, and tropical trips to faraway beaches. From hashtags to Hanuman, and everything in between Genevieve works to live a fulfilled life, & hopes that her own non-traditional path will encourage others to follow their hearts as well.
Connect with Genevieve on Instagram: @genevieve.c.c