Social media is one of the most powerful free marketing tools out there. For fitness studio owners in particular, creating an Instagram account that showcases your space and offerings in a highly visual way will undoubtedly help build your brand, attract new clients and even strengthen relationships with existing members of your studio.

Of course, getting started on the platform takes a bit of legwork. Not to mention, with new features being added regularly, it can be tough to keep up with best practices for using Instagram effectively. We asked a few studio owners to share what they’ve found to be successful when using Instagram to promote their brand. Read on for their best tips and advice for growing your studio’s Instagram following.

Know your audience

While you may have an idea of what type of content you’d like to post on your studio’s Instagram page, Lisa Eskenazi, founder of Simply Fit says to keep your audience top of mind when posting. “Social media in business is not about what you want to say as an individual, but it’s about what your customers want to see from you,” she says. “What do they care about? What inspires them? A cohesive theme should run throughout your page with the same feeling, same colors and same personality.” Instead of thinking of your studio’s Instagram account post by post, Eskenazi says to visualize each post as part of a whole. “Think about your page as an entire body of work,” she says. “A healthy blend of promotional and fun/silly pictures work best. Nobody wants to feel like they are being sold to all of the time. Some fun and humor mixed in goes a long way!”

Use localized hashtags

The key to reaching your target audience on Instagram can be as simple as including the right mix of local hashtags. General hashtags such as ‘fitspo’ reach a large amount of people around the world,” explains Lizzie Bland, founder of Lean Bean Fitness in Sydney. “Try and include ones specific to your location such as ‘sydneyfitness’ or ‘melbournerunners,’ etc. to reach people in your area that could potentially be clients at your studio.” To keep the post’s description less cluttered, Bland also recommends including these hashtags separately. “Rather than overwhelming your post with hashtags, write a ‘comment’ straight after including your hashtags,” she says.

Always tag and locate your posts

Tagging both the people featured in your Instagram posts and stories, as well as including the geolocation tag for where it’s taking place helps keep your audience engaged and reach potential new followers in the area. “Always tag your own account as well as any local companies / clients / instructors that are in the picture or could relate to your post,” Bland suggests. “[Instagram] stories is also a great way of telling people new info on the studio, as it’ll pop up on the top of their page that you’ve added a new story.” While it’s great to have a location tag for your studio so that members can use it when they post, Bland recommends opening the location up to a broader audience when posting on the studio’s account. “More people search for ‘Bondi Beach’ than ‘Lean Bean Fitness,’ so I change my location depending on where I am,” she explains.

Time it right 

You’re putting effort into curating Instagram posts that appeal to your audience and include strategic tags and hashtags. But if you’re posting at a time where your audience isn’t watching, you’re not going to reach as many people as you could be. “When posting you want to think about the times of day that your customer will be utilizing social media,” says Eskenazi. “I have found that before work, around lunchtime and end of the day around 5 p.m. are the times that have the most engagement.”

Plug your Instagram account whenever possible

Getting in front of potential new clients by way of events or media coverage is extremely valuable. Coss Marte, founder of ConBody has leveraged these opportunities to ask his audience to connect via Instagram. “The past 18 months ConBody has received a decent amount of media coverage,” says Marte, “and we always include our Instagram account. Whenever I do public speaking, or any of our ConBody trainers speak at events, we always ask the audience members to take out their phones and follow ConBody on Instagram.”