If you’ve listened to my podcast you already know I like good social media, what do I mean by that? Social media that’s actually making a difference and Joey Swoll is using a short form video strategy to do just that.

He’s a personal trainer and his products range from online training, to meal plans and apparel. Sounds pretty standard for a personal trainer, right? The thing that sets Joey apart is his social media strategy and it has helped him amass over 10 million followers across TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

What is his short form video strategy?

It starts with a relatively simple to make, short form video but it’s the complex content and messaging that have gained so much attention.

He is calling out bad behaviour in gyms.

Every day there are loads of short videos being posted by gym goers that make fun of people for being new and inexperienced, doing something out of the ordinary, or even body shaming people. Joey is an advocate for what he calls gym positivity, hence his clothing line Gym Positivity Nation. He’s reshaping gym culture to be more inclusive and friendly and supportive.

Another topic that he is addressing is certainly sensitive and he has received some negative responses but I need to mention it here as it is a major part of what he does. I’ll do my best to explain it.

People training in gyms often film themselves partially to review their form and how their body is responding to the workout and partially to share on social media. The thing about gyms is that they’re a public place so you are no doubt going to have other people in the background of your videos. Now sometimes as in most public places, people glance around at something or someone else and this can be caught on the video. As with general life, it is usually women that are the recipients of looks and although some are potentially innocent there are many (many) examples of not-so-innocent occurrences. People are catching these moments on camera and sharing them on social media to call them out. However, Joey is concerned that innocent glances are now being shared and framed as less than innocent.

Joey’s message is everyone should feel safe in the gym. If you feel unsafe then it should be reported to the gym staff and escalated to the police if need be. When these videos are being shared on social media they are potentially affecting innocent people that shared an innocent glance for whatever reason and they may not deserve negative backlash on social media for it. Here’s an example that made it into the media.

The original video

The apology

See what I mean about the complexity. I hope I have explained it well enough but please let me know if I can do this better.

How is he implementing it?

He’s using a short-form video, which is how the negative content is being shared and he’s using TikTok stitch feature to show the video in question and then films his response to it. The great thing about this short form video strategy is it’s easy for Joey to create for a couple of reasons

There are loads of this type of content

These videos are shared every single day and Joey either finds them or his followers are sending them to him. So he essentially has a deluge of source material.

He shoots them on his phone

From his car, the gym, his home, or wherever he might be – he’s just facing a light source, turning the camera on selfie, and hitting record. It would be a matter of minutes for him to create and share this content.

TikTok Stitch or Instagram Remix are built into the apps

Joey can view the video, record his response, and share. He is using these features how they were intended – take existing content add yours and publish.

Why is this short form video strategy working?

It’s difficult to open a social media app and not see a video of someone in the gym and some of the most prevalent gym videos tend to be making fun of someone. This is a form of online bullying and we’re certainly in a time when bullying is getting called out a lot more than it used to. Now I will admit that I have chuckled at some (and I emphasise SOME) of the videos where a gym goer may be using equipment in an unconventional way. But through watching Joey and how he brings these videos to the surface and points out that there could be loads of reasons why this is happening and most importantly, it’s none of your business.

“You need to do better!”

He also encourages people to talk to each other in the gym, to help each other if they see someone doing something dangerous or that might need a hand. He is establishing himself as an authority, a thought leader, and most of all an approachable good person that is willing to stand up for the less experienced, the vulnerable, or just anybody that might be in the gym and not look a certain way. As I said earlier, he is single-handedly reshaping gym culture by taking the finger that the crowd is pointing and pointing it squarely back at society and saying “YOU NEED TO DO BETTER!” which is how he signs off his videos.

This strategy is working for him because the people he is standing up for ARE HIS CLIENTS! They’re in the gym and want to exercise or they’re thinking about it but need support.

What is the result?

Joey is being immensely brave in putting this content out there and with such a huge following that continues to grow he is generating thousands of comments on each post. He supports the short form video strategy by sharing content promoting his personal training services which takes the form of before and after photos which is certainly nothing new in this field but it remains very effective when leveraging the real-world results of your previous and current clients.

6.7 million followers on TikTok
2.4 million on Instagram
1.3 million on Facebook

He’s been featured in articles and publications across the internet that break out of his usual audience and into the mainstream.

The actual dollar value of the brand awareness he is achieving would be beyond the budget of most medium size businesses.

Arnie has even reached out to him.

How can I use short form video to do something similar?

Analysing successful social media content creators is one of the first things I suggest to my clients, look at your competitors, look at influencers in your area, and work out what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. It falls into the research phase of our services, read more on that here.

Note down content that is interesting and generates lots of interaction from the audience. Work out synergies with your products or services and how you can produce something similar within your budget and resources.

All successful social media marketing begins with a good strategy and if you’d like to build out a short form video strategy and need some help, find out what we can do here.


Negative Interaction

The result because of Joey’s video

Positive Interaction


@thejoeyswoll #duet with @Content Machine #Comedy ♬ original sound – Content Machine