If only Meg Ryan’s character in “You’ve Got Mail” knew how to work around running a social media marketing campaign, maybe her quaint, little bookstore wouldn’t bow out of the competition to Tom Hanks’ giant bookstore chain without a fight. Had she lived in the Facebook and Instagram era, maybe her shop would still be the community’s official book nook.
Being ranged against malls, major franchises, and mega-retail chains are also among the challenges posed at brick and mortar storefronts or what people usually refer to as “the shop around the corner.” But being another Meg Ryan is a mistake that no small or big business has to suffer today — not in the age of social media. A content-driven, creative, and aggressive social media strategy can effectively pull a business from being just another shop around the corner to being a remarkable establishment or brand at the forefront.
The challenge here is conversion. How do you turn every like or comment into actual revenue? How do you convert every share into in-store foot traffic? It is not enough that you make your brand its own website or Facebook page. The real test is inspiring people to take action, check you out, and ultimately be loyal to your brand and what it stands for.
For a start, let’s take a look at the market. A survey by Dimensional Research shows that the buying decisions of 90 percent of consumers are influenced by positive online reviews. Imagine how huge the market is! With a huge market comes great opportunities for your business and with the right digital marketing initiatives, you can convert this number into store traffic and actual sales.
Of Online Coupons and Offline Sales
Among the most common social media marketing strategies is offering discount coupons online and asking buyers to claim the product in the store. Come to think of it, coupons are one of the oldest marketing tactics but are made cooler with social media. Big brands like Starbucks and Target offer their consumers exclusive coupons via their websites, apps, and social pages.
How do you do it? Make the offer exclusive only to followers. As much as possible, make it exclusive to one platform only, like your Facebook page. Make the offer creative: 50 percent discount for all who will share the post on their page, a coupon for those who can invite five friends to like your page, etc. Tell them to exchange the coupon in your store and give them a remarkable in-store experience. Take their happy photos and post them, too. And for sure, you don’t even have to ask them to post and share their experiences online because you can bet that they will anyway.
But remember to go easy on promotional content. You don’t want to saturate your consumers. You have to keep the anticipation high. And you don’t want to look desperate, do you?
Go for non-linear marketing
Link your social accounts to your own microsite and lead your audience into a less crowded and more focused medium. In an article by Propelrr, a digital marketing agency, suggested that you can easily tie online and offline marketing initiatives through different tracking and reward system. Propelrr also suggests developing a close-loop uber funnel will allow businesses to capture more data such as demographics that can be turned into leads.
Remember that with Facebook, other people can mine your data, but with your own microsite, the data is exclusive to you. This is a good crowd-sourcing tactic that will give you more ideas as to how to target and segment your audience more effectively.
Rewards for shares and posts
“Tell us about your stay. Post a photo on Instagram and get a free massage.”
This is how some hotels are doing it. A stay doesn’t only earn customers points but it can also get them a free massage, free breakfast, or a 20 percent discount on their next visit. This is another way to successfully pull an online and offline marketing integration. Cafes and restaurants are also doing this come, post, and win strategy. Not only do you get a personal brand of marketing, it also converts walk-in and repeat customers into loyal ones and not to mention your very own PR agents.
There is a reason why “hashtag” was the word of the year for 2012. The pound sign is not only in every social platform but forms part of daily conversations. Companies and brands are fond of using hashtags. But how can hashtags be a revenue-driven digital strategy?
Fast-food giant Wendy’s used the power of hashtags to promote its flatbread grilled chicken sandwich. The mechanics are simple: buy a sandwich, tweet a photo with the #twEATfor1K, and get a chance to win $1,000 dollars in a daily draw. Imagine how many sandwiches were brought and the attention the new product got just by that cost-effective strategy.
Other successful hashtag campaigns were not directly revenue inspired but more of engagement (that eventually leads to sales). Remember that with hashtags, you are building a community. Travel company Travelocity got a lot of leads with its #IWannaGo campaign, offering a weeklong vacation to any destination of choice of two of its followers. Nike’s MakeItCount also started an online revolution.
Check In and Be Rewarded
For physical stores, check-in platforms like Foursquare and GetGlue are good marketing channels. The most common strategy is to check in a store, post it on Foursquare, and lucky visitors get a gift card or a prize – yet another example of online and offline marketing integration.
What you can also take advantage of is the competitive nature of location-based applications with all its collectible stickers, badges, pins, and other items. It adds competition to the user experience through a leaderboard.
Involve Customers in your Campaign
Companies always say that their customers are their treasures. And it’s true. Take this a notch higher by involving your customers in your advertising campaign. A leader in this strategy is “My Starbucks Idea” which encourages customers to suggest and vote on suggestions. Dell’s “Idea Storm” does the same thing. Both companies have also implemented the winning suggestions. You can do the same by encouraging suggestions, running a poll, and rewarding the winner. In the end, it is not only the winner who wins but also the company as it gets ideas for free. Best of all, every single customer is rewarded because the company is going in a direction that they desire. Having customers engage with your brand directly builds loyalty and drives revenue.
Make your online efforts creative and helpful so they can be converted into store traffic, sales, and even your own database. Physical stores should not shirk from online trends but instead, use them to expand and widen their targets. Remember that social media is not just any other marketing tool. With its large following, social media is itself a market — a market that should not be ignored and a market that can make (or break) a business.