Social Media is big business. Worldwide, people spend nearly 2.5 hours a day on average engaging with connected accounts on social media - and it’s more than just conversations with friends and family.
Social media has become a source of entertainment, news, commerce, and so much more. Making sure that content is fresh, engaging, and relevant are millions of social media professionals working with brands of all sizes. Emplifi’s Social Media Superstars celebrates those who have made a big impact for their brand and left a positive impact on the social media industry.
Aminta Iriarte, the Senior Manager of Global Social Media Strategy for Crunch Fitness, is a fan of EDM shows and Venezuelan cuisine, and got into social media while working as a fashion stylist in New York. She crafted a fashion blog and began exploring ways to increase engagement on social media. It didn‘t take long for an e-commerce luxury brand to notice, giving her opportunities to master a number of digital marketing roles.
After many years of working with fashion brands, Iriarte began looking for opportunities to combine her personal passion for fitness with her passion for social media marketing. Crunch Fitness, where she’d been a personal member for years, presented the perfect opportunity - and the rest is history.
We sat down with Iriarte to talk about her experiences in the industry and to share her advice with other social media professionals.
What do you like the most about your social media role?
I like that no two days are ever alike. One day I can be scheduling posts to go out to 400+ pages, and the next I can be recording TikTok videos with personal trainers at one of our gyms. One of our old Crunch marketing campaigns had the tagline "never boring, never bored." The Marketing team has adapted that slogan because when you work in social media marketing, it’s never boring and you’re never bored!
What is the most challenging part of your job?
I’m a people person and can talk to anyone, but when you work in social media, you connect with hundreds of people a day – sometimes it can be overwhelming. While I have a great work-life balance, sometimes it’s hard to turn off my social media manager brain at the end of the day. It’s hard not to think about some of the people I spoke to that day – especially the mean ones.
The pandemic was very challenging because we closed our doors abruptly, and understandably, our members had a lot of questions and concerns at the time. I had never experienced such a large volume of comments and messages the way I did in March 2020. It was a very stressful time for everyone, and I would not have been able to manage if it wasn’t for Emplifi, and more specifically Emplifi’s Community templates!
What's your favorite social media platform?
TikTok because I think it really democratized social media. Instagram is super curated, so there is a lot of pressure to put out a certain type of content. On TikTok, you can go viral and reach a lot of people just by making breakfast. So I love TikTok.
Who do you follow on TikTok?
You know, I honestly could not tell you who I'm following because I see the "For You" page a lot. I enjoy seeing new people, interacting with the content, and then being fed that content later on – like the algorithm is learning what I like. I know that if I like a comment or a video, I'm going to see the creator later.
You also mentioned Instagram. Who would we find on your Instagram feed?
I love a good meme account. I really like memes, and I think they perform so well. We just started posting a bunch of TikTok videos that we are transforming into reels. Usually, the funny content really resonates.
How do you coach others on creating effective visual content for social media?
I actually do a lot of teaching for our franchise business operators. They’re mainly focused on sales or operations while having little marketing or social media experience. When it comes to the visual element, I tell them to treat your Instagram feed like it’s your new website. When someone goes on your Instagram, you need to tell them your story right away. You need to have photos of your gym itself… and you need to keep it organic, and keep it real.
When people go to your Instagram profile, tell them what your hours are, tell them where you're located, tell them what you do there, and that's your new website.
What do you tell people who may be a little bit worried about trying to experiment on social?
Well, I like to remind them that we're not heart surgeons. No one is going to die if a post doesn't perform well. So take the pressure off and start posting; then you'll get into a good rhythm, you'll find your voice, and you'll find what your audience identifies with and likes to see. This is where a tool like Emplifi comes into play. It's really easy for you to hone in and see what's working and what's not.
We all face failures at some point in our careers. What advice do you have for somebody who might be experiencing a moment of failure right now?
I would say look at the data and then see what's working and try not to take it personally. I think we're really hard on ourselves and on our performance. Ultimately, again, look to the data and repeat what people are enjoying and do more of that.
What are the essential skills that will make people successful in social media careers?
Social media is constantly evolving. You used to be able to just curate a nice feed, but now there’s so much that goes into it, depending on the role and the company. A social media manager needs to be flexible, patient, and good at reading and analyzing data.
What advice would you give to young professionals aspiring to start their social media careers?
Be realistic about what you’re getting into. A well-rounded social media manager will have lots of skills, some fun and some practical. Expect to create and edit content, but also know you’ll be dealing with a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff like analytics, reporting, and maybe even community management.
I’ve worked with young students who express interest in a social media career but as soon as they have to deal with disgruntled customers in the comments they get discouraged. This comes with the territory. You need to find a balance between being empathetic to customer issues but also realizing it’s not personal and not letting it get to you. I’m still working on that myself.
It can be difficult to find a work-life balance when social media is always available. What do you tell people looking to maintain a healthy work-life balance as they move up in their careers?
I think it has to start at the top. I'm fortunate. Crunch is very good with the work-life balance. We have unlimited PTO, mental health days, etc., and it's not embarrassing to use them because we are in the wellness health space. Try to find a place that allows you to take time for yourself, allows you to disconnect, and not be on your phone 24/7.
What is the role of technology in delivering great results to Crunch Fitness?
When evaluating and working with a new technology partner, we always want to know how we can improve our customer’s lifecycle. From the moment they first hear about Crunch, to the moment they sign up and beyond, how are we making that process or stage as seamless and enjoyable as possible for them. We’re very big on reporting, so in the case of Emplifi, the reporting helps us look at the content our audience likes so we can continue to deliver the content that keeps them coming back for more.
What marketing tools and solutions should social media professionals use on a daily basis?
They have to find something that makes sense for them and their organization. For instance, we knew that at Crunch we would need a tool our franchise partners could use: a tool that could accommodate many users and could handle hundreds of pages. As of today, we have 915 pages on Emplifi and 112 users!
The speed of the tool is also very important because social media managers sometimes wear multiple hats, so they can’t be waiting 30 seconds for a post to be scheduled or a report to load. This may not seem like a big deal but if you’re doing multiple posts per day, those 30 seconds add up! I’m speaking from personal experience.
Lastly, I would say look for something that’s going to make you look good in front of your stakeholders. Is your manager looking for a report comparing this month’s Instagram clicks to the same time period last year? Easy! Is the EVP or Marketing wondering how our video content compares to a competitor’s, but only when posted on a Friday? Done! Does the CEO want to know the average Facebook following for all our gyms so we can set benchmarks for our franchisees? Absolutely!
To this day, there hasn’t been one metric I’ve not been able to pull from Emplifi. I always say "if they can dream it, Emplifi can probably pull it."
Last question: What are some takeaways from your own experience in social media that everyone out there should know about?
I think something that's really helped me is talking to the sales organization because of the way they look at anything and everything. At the end of the day, we are a business, and we are trying to sell memberships, and they often have a different way of looking at a marketing message.
One other tip: Everyone should have an opinion on social media. Just about everyone on your team and other teams are on social media and they think they know what’s [a great post]. They may not always be right, but there is often something good in their suggestions. So don’t dismiss – let everyone voice their opinion and use the data to decide if you’re actually going to implement their idea.