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6 Ways to Drive Your Social Media Fans to Your Offline Business

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Updated: Monday, April 30, 2012 - 18:59
Created: Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 07:21

So, you’ve set up a Facebook page and perhaps you are blogging too, but how do you use your online social media presence to actually get customers to frequent your business?

Social media engagement is based on a customer’s interest in what you have to offer, and more often than not, your followers will be people who have done business with you in the past. But what can you do to generate repeat customers or even new customers? A lot depends on the trusted “call to action.” Here’s how to make it work for you:

1. Make Promotions Available Exclusively via Your Social Media Sites

Big retailers offer coupon codes and offers exclusively to their Facebook fans all the time.  Have you tried it? Even if you don’t have a website that can capture and apply these promotions, you could post a promotional code or offer on Facebook, Yelp, Google Places or Twitter (“15 percent off for our online fans”).  Encourage your followers to print the coupon and use it at your business (don’t forget to limit the offer to a value and timeframe).

Use social media monitoring tools to track engagement and a simple spreadsheet to record the promotion’s popularity.

These kinds of incentives drive traffic offline and are a great way to build your community and give people an incentive to follow you. Some businesses have fans stampeding Facebook waiting excitedly for the latest promotion to be posted so they can share it with friends.

Tip: Use the 7-day pin or “Favorite” feature on Facebook to make your offer more prominent.

 2. Use the New Facebook App Toolbar to Display Your Call to Action

The new Facebook fan page format makes it trickier for small businesses to promote calls to action – you can’t include them in your cover photo and the old tabs feature is gone.  Instead, get to know the app toolbar (just below your cover photo) and use it to display your call to action.  A call to action can include things like sign up buttons for your email newsletter, a link to your online store and special offers or events. Here are some examples of how some businesses use it:

Tip: Facebook lists different page apps here that you can customize and add to your page.

You could also use Facebook ads to promote your call to action. Facebook ads can be targeted to a finite level to reach local customers based on their interests, gender, occupation,  and education level.

3. Combine Great Content with Compelling Offers

A call to action is one thing, but when you combine it with a great story or engaging content, it can help drive new traffic to your business. Fuego Mundo, a Georgia-based restaurant (featured for its online marketing innovation in this Google/SBA video) uses its Facebook fan page to do this.  For instance, they invite fans to have a say in new menu items. Recently, it came to choosing a new range of soup dishes, the restaurant promoted a weekend of free soup tastings to its Facebook fans, asking them for help picking the dishes. Pictures and videos of the tasting event and the winning soups were uploaded to Facebook to help promote the new menu.

4. Keep the Online / Offline Relationship Going

It’s important to keep your online relationship with customers alive, whether they’ve bought from you or not. Aside from your regular social media activity, consider these tactics:

  • Use Tablet PCs to Drive Deeper Engagement with your Customers Onsite - Use iPads or tablet PCs at your business location so that existing customers can interact in deeper ways. Let them connect with you on Twitter, sign up for your emails, or explore your products and services.  Some restaurants and stores have iPads built in to countertops and tables so that customers can learn more about the business at their own pace. This really increases your cool factor, too!
  • Have an In-Store Raffle or Drawing – Offer a monthly raffle to customers who sign up for your e-newsletter or email updates. This keeps the online relationship active, and increases potential for capturing future customers.

5. Integrate Your Social Media and Email Campaigns

Social media communities are valuable, but the speed and volume of information can make it hard to reach your target audience with your key messages. So it’s important to take steps to drive social media followers to sign up for your emails. Use page apps (see above), post updates about your email content, and encourage fans not to miss out on your latest updates. 

6. Don’t Forget to Publish Your Contact Information

You’d be surprised, but many businesses omit their phone numbers from their blog page or Twitter/Facebook accounts. Don’t. It’s still a critical tool for small businesses. Make it easy for your customers to reach you.

There are countless ways to use social media and online channels to drive folks to your business, and grow the relationship from there. What’s worked for your business?

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Type: Community Blog