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How to build a thriving online community around your wellness business: a step-by-step guide.


With a global economy worth £3.3 trillion, there’s never been a more exciting time to be involved in the booming wellness sector. For the millennial generation in particular, wellness venues are the new favourite social spaces, surpassing more traditional establishments like shopping malls and bars. There’s no doubt about it – wellness is the new hip, whether it takes the form of chic meditation studios or matcha cafés.

Then there’s the fact that younger generations have become obsessed with social media. They’re accustomed to sharing their passions and discoveries and acting on one another’s advice to lead healthier and more fulfilled lifestyles. For many of us, Wellness has become a central part of everyday social life, both offline and online as people look for new ways to socialise and unwind outside of working hours.

So, what does this mean for wellness brands? Above all, it means that it’s time to get social if you’re not already. More than almost any other industry, wellness revolves around social interaction, hence the increasingly important role of social media. By building a close-knit online community of your own, you can make your wellness services more accessible and keep your brand at the forefront of people’s minds.

Here’s how it’s done:

Step 1: Make your services accessible with a dedicated online platform

Mainstream social channels such as Instagram and Facebook might be the obvious venues for building a wellness community. But they come with some crippling limitations. Even if people can find you among the hundreds of millions of other profiles and updates drowning out everyone’s newsfeeds, getting them to engage is an entirely different matter. Social media might still help raise awareness, but it’s not likely to help you build an accessible community.

Create a dedicated social space for your community that works the way you want it to and provides the features and functions that your members crave. Be sure to prioritise full mobile functionality so that your community is always just a tap away. You can also brand your dedicated online platform without restrictions, as well as make your trainings accessible through things like paid subscriptions or downloadable content.

With your own social space, you don’t have to worry about being heard through all the noise of mainstream social media. You also get to preserve your branding and maintain a close-knit community in which everyone has something in common. As a member-only digital venue, you’ll enjoy much higher engagement rates, and since your brand is always in the center stage, members will be far more likely to buy from you.


Step 2: Engage directly with your members on a regular basis

Online social spaces that don’t see regular involvement from the brands behind them end up being digital ghost towns. Eventually, they become serious liabilities as they get inundated with spammers and trolls. When this happens, social media can become your greatest enemy, eating away at your brand reputation by giving your members and customers the impression you no longer care.

Establish an engagement plan and choose an experienced community manager who will regularly and consistently engage with your members. There’s no harm in getting the rest of your team involved too to make your community an integral part of your company culture. Don’t be afraid to give something away for free too, such as health and fitness tips or recaps of training sessions for members who couldn’t attend.

With regular engagement on the part of your brand, your members will feel appreciated, and many of them will share more valuable content as a result. Community managers can also identify new opportunities to engage with and upsell to their members. They’ll also have a direct line of sight into any problems that might arise and be able to mitigate them before they can get out of control.


Step 3: Offer incentives to encourage members to get involved

A growing number of people are weary of social media, which itself offers an incentive to join smaller focus groups such as private brand communities. But most people will still need some convincing before they sign up to your platform. If you don’t have a unique value proposition that clearly answers the ‘what’s in it for me’ question, people aren’t likely to join, let alone get involved.

Give people a strong reason (or, preferably, reasons) to sign up in the first place. For example, people might want a convenient way to keep in touch with other members of your wellness venue so they can make friends and attend training together, as well as have a space to share their latest fitness tips or healthy eating recipes. You should also tie your community in with a loyalty programme to offer a clear financial incentive.  

Adding some extra incentives works wonders when it comes to getting people to feel like they’re a part of your team. If you can clearly convey the benefits of signing up and engaging, and stay true to your promises, your community will soon become a thriving space where loyal customers become brand advocates. Once that happens, they’ll help you grow your business by referring others and having a wider impact on public wellbeing.


Step 4: Lead by example to moderate your wellness community

Being almost as much about social interaction as it is about health and fitness, getting involved in a wellness community shouldn’t feel like being in bootcamp. Sure, some personal trainers prefer the tough-love approach, but your wellness community shouldn’t drive members away with draconian rules and moderators who lead only with authority. But every community still needs moderation to maintain a safe and healthy environment.

Lead your community by setting an example rather than focussing on authority alone. Remember that everyone who attends a wellness venue has an important personal goal, such as to improve their physical or mental wellbeing. The importance of strong teamwork to drive motivation cannot be understated, and your community moderators should be there to instil that culture of collaboration and encouragement.

By leading through example, you can rely less on lists of rules and guidelines and establish the definition of constructive participation. The line between moderators and members should always be kept vague so that everyone feels like they’re on the same team. By motivating others to fulfil their personal goals and praising success yourself, others will start doing the same for each other. The result – a positive community that everyone wants to be a part of.

Step 5: Give your customers what they want

If you’re thinking about establishing an exclusive social space for your clients, you probably have lots of great ideas already. After all, every new community should be established with clear goals in mind, whether that’s to increase accessibility to your services, boost revenue or increase brand engagement. What you mustn’t do though is let your goals take precedence over what your members want.

Let your customers drive your community and align their needs with your community goals. If your members want a social space to gather, connect and interact with your lessons, give them what they want and lay the foundations for meeting your own brand goals. You can also make your trainings accessible to those living in remote areas by implementing online lessons or even broadcasting your sessions live to people all over the world.

In the Age of the Consumer, customer success is paramount to business success. By giving your clients what they want, they’ll be happier to engage with you and more likely to spend. If you add multiple subscription plans and other options, members will also have more flexibility, while those who don’t have the time or the cash can still enjoy the benefits of being part of a community dedicated to its members’ wellbeing.


Bonus tip: add real value to your brand by monetising your community

With people spending more on health and fitness products and services than ever before, there are many exciting new opportunities for monetising your community. Once you’ve built a thriving online social space, you can turn it into a shopping experience in its own right. Options include adding paid subscription plans for monetising your most value content, accessing online training sessions or selling branded or affiliated accessories.

Disciple social spaces help wellness brands enjoy all the benefits of community with an independent, valuable, and trusted platform in a safe space that they own and control.

Mike Harrower in
6 min read

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Mike Harrower in Community building
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