On Monday I realized just how much power social media users wield.
I’ve been a member at an athletic club for the past seven years. I go regularly, about 5 days a week to run. The average age of its members is likely over 50, making me one of the youngest there. Due to the gym‘s clientele, I was shocked on Monday when I stepped into the women’s locker room and saw sleazy posters advertising workout classes. The posters show young women, seemingly under 30, in scantily clad workout wear, with a full face of makeup. On any given day, someone as pictured in these ads is not going to be in my gym, so who exactly is the club is trying to reach? Surely not the stay-at-home moms, business women, etc. Seriously these ads belong in The Metro classifieds. They do not cater to the gym’s older, sophisticated, professional brand at all.
The posters bothered me because if I wanted to go somewhere and see images like that I’d join 24 Hour Fitness. So I called the gym and they gave me their consultant’s number to make my complaints to, as he is the one who gave the thumbs up to the posters. I told him what I thought about the posters and how I believed they conflicted with the gym’s brand. He told me that he did not think anything was wrong with the posters and thought they were very professional. Really? Maybe if you were promoting a or pole dancing classes. I asked him if he was trying to push away the older crowd because that’s what would happen if they stayed posted. He said he was trying to get a new group of clientele to join. I had nothing else to say, so we ended the conversation after he credulously asked if I thought he should take the posters down to which I said yes. He responded that I was the only one to make a complaint.
I felt dismissed, so to make myself heard, I posted a Yelp review, wrote a recommendation on the business’ Facebook page and sent a message, and tweeted the gym, attaching pictures of the posters in question. While I never received a response directly from the gym, I got one the next day.
I walked in to the locker room and all the posters were gone without a trace.
To me, this illustrates that social media works to the advantage of consumers. Had I not took to social media to complain, the posters would still be up. However, in my own experience, outside of this particular situation, people tend to respond when the message is negative rather than positive.