How to Grow Your Social Media Audience with Print

These three print strategies can help your business grow its online presence too.

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Katherine Halek is the content strategist at Signazon.com, a leading online printer that works with thousands of small businesses around the country. Katherine enjoys writing about social media, marketing and entrepreneurship. Connect with her on Google+.

In today’s marketing climate, countless businesses succeed by marketing exclusively online. With a solid website, strong social media presence and a well-executed email marketing strategy, a company could theoretically flourish without printing anything but labels for shipping boxes. On the other end of the spectrum, you find CEOs who have achieved success by strictly using traditional print media and have yet to realize that social media isn’t optional.

Maybe you own such a business that needs a starting point when it comes to expanding to social media. Maybe you’re already a digital marketing pro and are ready to extend your reach via print. Either way, don’t underestimate the advantages of strategically using printed materials to drive online engagement.

Unique Print Advertising
In spite of all the changes in the marketing industry, business cards have remained a powerful networking tool. Nothing has yet replaced an effective eye-to-eye introduction and a tangible way to save someone’s information. Business cards can not only be social media-friendly — they can act as a creative space. A growing number of people are designing cards that don’t just sit on your desk or slide into your wallet. From stencils to seed packets to edible materials, promotional items used as business cards are a great way remind people again and again to go online and check you out.

Vehicle wraps and car magnets are an eye-catching, cost-effective alternative to billboards and signs. With an exciting design and cues that lead back to your social accounts, getting stuck in real-life traffic might mean increasing your online traffic. Make sure to learn the ins and outs of how typography plays into your design and influences the effectiveness of your moving billboard.

Clickable Paper and QR Codes
Some advertisers haven’t gotten the memo: QR codes should be used judiciously. Plopping them in the midst of busy content makes them easy to miss. Sticking them too close to an image or text makes them hard to scan. And of course, they should lead users to content that’s actually valuable. When used correctly, QR codes can boost website traffic and lead people to take advantage of special deals.

Clickable Paper” is the successor to the QR code. It uses image recognition software, which means it doesn’t require a clunky code. Users can scan the image in order to be directed to several different sources of related content rather than just one. Even though Clickable Paper is seen as more convenient than QR Codes, scanning does take an extra step for the user. Use calls to actions so that audiences have a reason to stop and scan your QR code. “Learn more” may work, but “Get exclusive deals” is even stronger.

Online and Offline Content Integration
When using print advertising to point audiences to your online resources, you must provide valuable, engaging content. Turn your website into a resource for authoritative content or entertaining posts. Use landing pages to gather information from consumers so that you can send them direct mail with coupons or links to special offers. Don’t expend the effort to lead potential customers to a social media account, unless you post interesting content regularly and interact with your followers.

Maintaining consistency across all channels is vital. Your offline and online content should promote the same deals, make the same promises and accurately express your brand image.