It’s no surprise that Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks’ brainchild, <a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/lifestyle/toni-carey-and-ashley-hicks-of-black-girls-run-give-the-skinny-on-their-nationwide-movement/">Black Girls Run!, took off after its founding in 2009</a>. With nothing more than a desire to record their personal fitness journeys and form a support system for female runners, the health-conscious duo teamed up to ignite a national movement comprised of over 65 BGR running groups nationwide. The social-savvy team has an impressive social media footprint, which includes more than 35,000 “likes” on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/BlackgirlsRUN" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and over 9,000 followers on <a href="https://twitter.com/blackgirlsrun" target="_blank">Twitter</a>. Carey and Hicks were able to leverage their presence on and offline, creating a strong, successful initiative from the ground up in three years flat. <strong>BlackEnterprise.com</strong> caught up with the <a href="http://www.blackgirlsrun.com/" target="_blank">Black Girl Run!</a> founders to see what it takes to get your health-conscious movement the attention it deserves. — <a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/lifestyle/black-blogger-month-yolis-green-living/"><em><strong>Yoli Ouiya</strong></em></a>
<strong>Pass the Mic </strong><br><br>
If you have established a health-conscious community, comprised of a robust site or blog, and a strong social-media following, people want to hear more than just your voice. Community engagement is huge! One practice that’s worked well for Black Girls Run! is profiling its members. “It reinforces that this is for everyone,” says Carey, an entrepreneur and public relations specialist. In addition to exchanging healthy living tips and exercise journeys, she adds, “…those members, typically, share through their [personal] network.” Hence, Carey and Hicks are not left to promote their initiative on their own—BGR members help to do so as well.
<strong>Leverage Community and Online Conversations</strong><br><br>
Check their stats:<strong> </strong>Black Girls Run!<strong> </strong>has thousands of members in almost all of the 50 states, a vigorous social media presence and a blog that includes running tips, information on top-notch sportswear and inspirational stories. The innovative duo has even launched a line of BGR paraphernalia. Carey and Hicks picked up on their growing following and ran with it.
<strong>Show Rather Than Tell</strong><br><br>
Get visual, urges Hicks. “It’s such a good way to transfer information,” the marketing professional adds. With social photo sharing at an all-time high, thanks to sites such as <a href="http://pinterest.com/" target="_blank">Pinterest</a> and applications like <a href="http://instagram.com/" target="_blank">Instagram</a>, this is a great space for organizations to enter. The platforms can be used to share user-generated images and photos from events in real time. <a href="http://www.youtube.com/" target="_blank">YouTube</a> is another great source to engage current members, attract new ones and spread your organization’s mission. Hicks notes that BGR members use the video-sharing website to chronicle their own journey of losing weight and share their progress since they began running with Black Girls Run.<br><br>
<strong><em>What tactics have you used to grow your healthy-living initiative? Leave your answers in the comments section below.</em></strong>