When Your Social Posts Generate 100 Likes and No New Clients

A large collection of social-media icons—happy faces, hearts and blue thumbs-up symbols.

Social media can be a trap for gym owners.

Yes, getting attention on social platforms is now essential for a business.

But if you focus on the wrong metrics, you’re going to waste a ton of time and your business won’t grow.

A head shot of writer Mike Warkentin and the column name "Pressing It Out."

So what are the wrong rewards?


We all know it’s unbelievably satisfying to open an app and find that 300 hearts have been tacked on your video. But likes and low-level social attention don’t do much to add members to your gym.

I’ll concede that a large number of followers and lots of engagement can help you “build momentum” on social media. If you have 10,000 followers and people regularly engage with your content, social algorithms will likely put your content in front of more people.

But will any of those people become clients? If you run a gym with a physical location and the algorithm starts serving a popular, entertaining post to a nationwide audience, the answer is “no.”

Take this example: I entered “gyms near me” in an Instagram search, and one of the top posts from a microgym was a simple picture and a caption with a touch of sexual innuendo.

A quick scan shows the post got about 100 likes and enough algorithm juice to get into the top tier of search results for me. On the surface, it would appear to be a social media “home run.”

Here’s what the post did and did not do for a prospective client:

  • It offered an inside joke that might not be understood—or that might offend.
  • It did not suggest solutions to any fitness problems.
  • It did not supply any information about the business.
  • It did not showcase any knowledge or expertise.
  • It did not contain a call to action or tell people how to learn more about the gym.

The post really only did one thing: It got likes. And likes do not pay the rent for a gym.

Annie Thorisdottir and “Blinding Lights”

Another example: Back in the day, I posted an original picture of Annie Thorisdottir to my gym’s Instagram account. Predictably, it got a lot of likes, and I also acquired a host of new followers who wanted only more pics of fitness celebrities.

I can say with certainty that not one single person who saw that photo booked a free consultation at my gym. It appealed to a worldwide audience but gave nothing to local people who might want to lose weight or get stronger.

This sort of thing isn’t uncommon. And the situation is worse when a gym owner spends a lot of time creating content that just gets likes or attention but not consultations and conversations.

Final example: I once spent hours learning a trending dance move to create a video for TikTok—it was the “Blinding Lights” challenge, if you must know. People enjoyed the video, and it got some likes and “LOL” comments. But creating it was not a good use of my time, and it didn’t supply any new clients to my gym.

Your Posts Should Do This

Instead of looking for likes, make sure that the content you produce for your business:

  • Is designed to connect with the people you want in your gym.
  • Suggests solutions to common fitness problems.
  • Educates viewers about your business and services.
  • Showcases knowledge or expertise.
  • Tells stories—your story or stories about your great clients.
  • Contains a call to action (“book a free consultation!”) or tells people how to learn more about the gym so they slide further down your marketing funnel (Chris Cooper has more on that here).

I’m not saying you can’t enjoy the warm fuzzy you get when a piece of social content gets a ton of attention. Enjoy that.

But don’t focus on it.

When you’re working on your social-media funnel, focus only on things that result in sales appointments and conversations that lead to sales appointments.


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.