Social media marketing isn’t just for businesses that operate exclusively online; it can also be valuable for stores with a physical presence. Typically, physically grounded stores use social media marketing to funnel traffic to their website, where people may be able to make purchases or learn more about the brand, but this isn’t the only way to utilize social media marketing. Though it might contradict your instincts, it’s possible and valuable to use social media to funnel your followers to your physical store instead.
Here are seven social media strategies you can use to do it:
1. Offer special coupons only redeemable in your store. This is one of the most straightforward strategies on my list, but it’s also one of the most effective. Let’s say you own a physical coffee shop and you’re advertising a new product on Twitter. You could offer something like “mention this tweet and get half off your next order,” or post an image that people can show your cashier in order to receive a discount. It’s important to distinguish this approach from typical online coupon strategies, such as using coupon codes upon checkout. Funnel your users by disallowing any alternative use of the coupon or deal in question; make it available only if you come to the physical location.
2. Host a special event. The type of event will depend almost exclusively on your core demographics. For example, young hipsters who might like the coffee shop in my first example would probably be excited for a live concert or art show. But if you have more of a professional, older audience, something like a networking event or entrepreneurial speaker might be more of a draw. Once you decide on the nature and date of your event, start promoting the heck out of it. Start mentioning it well in advance of the actual event, and consider using Eventbrite or something similar to organize your attendees.
3. Attend a local event and use a designated hashtag. If your location is too small to host an event of your own, you can always attend someone else’s event. For example, you could set up a booth at a tradeshow or get involved at a local festival by walking around handing out free samples or flyers. Either way, the local event is bound to have a Twitter hashtag associated with it. Start posting images of your business at the event and use those accompanying hashtags. This will greatly increase your visibility and relevance to a target local population, making them far more likely to visit your physical location.
4. Post images of your physical location. When you post text-based updates all day, people start to think that social media is the only place you exist. Break this subconscious illusion by posting real-time pictures of your business on a regular basis. These can be professional shots, framed perfectly to show off your facility, or fun shots that show some of your customers having a good time. It doesn’t matter what type of pictures you take, as long as you take appealing ones. These appealing pictures, posted regularly, will convince your social followers that your physical location is worth going to.
5. Show off the personalities of your employees. People like to see other people. Show off your employees’ personalities by posting images of them having a good time at work, or offer profiles of each individual on a rotating basis. If you’re comfortable with your staff, you could even allow them to do some social posting of their own on behalf of the brand. The point is to give your social followers a look at the types of people responsible for keeping the business going, which gives your physical location a warmer, more welcoming appearance that lends itself to increased foot traffic.
6. Encourage social reviews. This strategy involves taking advantage of the people who have already visited you. You can do this in your store, by making signs that encourage your users to post images and descriptions of their in-person experience. Alternatively, you can do this online, by making a post that asks your followers to recount their most recent in-store experience. Either way, try to be original in your phrasing, and respond to the people who have good things to say about you.
7. Share and retweet your fans. Nothing breeds brand loyalty like shares and retweets. If you see a customer post something positive about your physical location, share or retweet it and thank them for their positive feedback. Doing this regularly naturally encourages more feedback from your in-person customers (a la point 6), but also shows off the fact that you appreciate your physical customers and makes your physical location more visible.
Foot traffic is especially valuable for local businesses because it lends itself to more word-of-mouth reviews and greater volumes of recurring visitors. This doesn’t mean you have to abandon your strategy of funneling people to the website, but adding in this strategy of physical deflection can grant you a wider, more loyal customer base overall. You can also keep the cycle going by including social media prompts in your physical location, and encouraging your physical visitors to find and review you on external sources online.