What Can Your Business Learn About Marketing from a Japanese Martial Arts Dojo?

long island aikikai

Josephine Fan is co-owner of Long Island Aikikai, a martial arts dojo in Bay Shore, New York, that teaches the Japanese martial art of Aikido. Aikido involves various techniques for close combat self-defense; it’s featured in movies like the John Wick trilogy. It has strong visual components that make it ideal for videos.

Last year, Josephine started to focus on expanding her dojo’s social media presence. She started out with only 64 followers on Instagram, and in less than year they now have 14,600 followers – all from organic content, not any paid promotion or purchased followers. Josephine shared videos and photos of their dojo’s Aikido martial arts. She built up a significant online presence for her business.

“We built this following just from consistently posting cool and interesting videos, and we became more and more well known in the community,” Josephine said. “We have had students come in saying they were interested in taking lessons at our dojo because of what they saw on social media.”

Josephine Fan has also used the lessons from her company’s success story to write a social media marketing guide for dojos – and the lessons are the same for many businesses.

What can you learn from Long Island Aikikai, besides “self-defense?”

Embrace the Visual Element

Since Aikido is so visually impactful, it’s interesting that Josephine Fan got inspiration from fashion Instagrams.

“One of my good friends is a fashion blogger with more than 60,000 Instagram followers and she actually gave me the idea and the starting tips,” Josephine said. “I knew we needed to get onto the social media marketing train since technology is evolving so fast.”

Long Island Aikikai’s social media videos do a great job of visually capturing the essence of aikido, often in a minute or less. The company’s social media presence makes the martial art look much more real and accessible. People who’re interested but hesitant to sign up might see these videos and reevaluate.

How can your business maximize the visual elements of what you offer? If you run a restaurant, try posting well-plated, stylishly composed food photography. If you run a brick-and-mortar retail store, think about which products look best on camera. Think about how to capture the visual appeal of your store with favorable lighting and camera angles. Consider hiring a professional photographer or videographer to capture some good shots of your business. Good visuals are more important than ever, especially on Instagram.

Be Consistent

Another lesson that Josephine learned is that it’s important to keep a consistent schedule for social media. Post every day, or on a regular schedule.

Don’t get discouraged if results aren’t immediate. Trial and error is necessary before you figure out which social media strategies work best for your business.

“To be honest, the first couple of weeks felt like hitting my head against a brick wall,” Josephine said. “I couldn’t tell if what I was doing was working because we would only get a follower here and there. Then when I got the ‘formula’ down, the followers began to cascade.”

And don’t feel like you have to manage your business’s social media all by yourself. There are a lot of great marketing apps available now, many of them for free or at low cost, that can help you schedule your social media posts in advance, track results, make visually appealing images to share, and more.

Ignore the Trolls

Negativity might come your way when you start out. There are unfortunately many angry people on social media who just want to criticize your business and your social media posts.

Josephine learned to shut them out and focus on growing her audience of enthusiastic fans.

“I realized that I had to throw away the previous hangups about getting criticisms on the videos via social media troll comments, and just do it no matter what,” Josephine said. “That was a difficult hurdle to cross but once I did, it was very liberating to not care so much about those one or two aggressive comments and just keep focusing on the positive.”

Engage with the people who care about your business, and ignore the rest.

Find the Right “Formula” for Social Media Success

There is no one right answer for “how to get more followers on social media,” because it all depends on your business, your brand, your target market, and your particular skills and savvy for how to create and share content. Certain times of day or days of the week might work best for your business or industry, depending on which types of customers you’re trying to reach.

Josephine Fan found a successful formula for Instagram marketing, which she describes in her social media marketing guide:

  • Post 1-4 posts per day, spaced out evenly. This means that if you post 4 times a day, make sure to space the posts 6 hours apart. Don’t post too frequently.
  • Prepare a week’s worth of content at a time. Social media marketing apps make it easy to prepare and pre-schedule a week’s worth of posts. This way, you can focus on social media one day and run your business the others.
  • Don’t skip a day – you’ll lose followers. People love consistency. When Josephine took a few weeks off of posting during the holidays, the number of new followers per post decreased dramatically. She went from 60 followers per post to 1-2 followers per post. “I noticed that if I stopped posting for even a few days, I had to build up the momentum again later,” Josephine said.

Some types of content might result in massive numbers of new shares and new followers. Others might not get any results. However, if you keep trying and testing, you can find a comfortable and repeatable formula for social media success. Long Island Aikikai is a great example.

Learn more about Long Island Aikikai and check out their awesome martial arts videos on Instagram at @liaikikai!


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