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Like a moth to a flame... 7 easy ways to use social media to drive shoppers into your store

I have a new badge I am trying to wear. That of digital nomad. Not being contained to one specific office, I am travelling the world (well only NZ so far) working remotely, flexibly and effectively but making sure I am home by school pick-up time (most days). I’m going to try and own it for a bit, as one does.

Simultaneously, I thought I would do some good for the world of retail by starting to rank every cafe I work in by their performance on parking, wifi, working space, food, coffee, service and energy/noise level. I was particularly impressed when I sent a super large doc in a matter of seconds from one cafe. But what did occur to me is that none of these cafes (especially the ones I have rated as excellent), have done anything with my recommendations.

Increasingly I am talking with retail businesses who have got themselves tied up in knots over social media. In particular, how they can use it to drive awareness or visitation to their physical location.

Kelly Coe from Augustine is an excellent example and a pro at social media. Admittedly I think it helps that she looks stunning (I am sure she could wear a paper sack and look amazing), but she is really attuned to how to create excitement and interest in her clothing range by using pictures to sell the sizzle.

All the while giving enough information to drive customers to seek out a purchase. Her team actively helps find you what you need if it isn’t at your local store. She does this both through her loyal Facebook and Instagram following, each and every day.

More commonly physical stores typically use social media to drive customers to their website, but there are many other opportunities to be explored.

Here are seven social media strategies I’ve learned watching others achieve success.

1. Offer special offers (dare I say coupons) only redeemable in your store.

This is one of the most basic strategies, but it is effective. If you are launching a new product you can offer additional value or discount to drive shoppers in-store. Something like “mention this tweet and get half off your next order,” or post an image that the customer shows the sales assistant in order to receive the offer.

It’s important to distinguish this approach from typical online coupon strategies, such as using coupon codes upon checkout. The key is to funnel your shoppers into your physical store by not allowing this to be redeemed anywhere else.

Smoove Clothing is well renowned for utilising this method in their secret sales promotions - where customers have to provide the “secret password”, which is posted on social media, in order to get the exceptional sale discount.

2. Host a special event.

The type of event will depend almost exclusively on your customers. For example, young hipsters would probably be excited by a live music or art collaboration. But a foodie audience might like to watch a celeb cook demonstrate, meet the maker or have their book signed.

Once you decide on the nature and date of your event, start promoting the heck out of it. Farmers, with their Fashion Fixes by Lisa O'Neil in-store events, is an example which drives great enthusiasm and excitement with shoppers and results in massive sales in-store.

3. Attend a local event and use a designated hashtag.

If you are too small to host an event of your own, you can always attend someone else’s event. For example, get involved at a local festival by walking around handing out free samples or flyers. The event is bound to have a Twitter hashtag associated with it. Start posting images of your business at the event and use accompanying hashtags. This will greatly increase your visibility and relevance to a target local audience, making them far more likely to visit your physical location.

Lululemon recently attended the Wanderlust healthy living/yoga event at Western Springs attended by 2000 fitness fanatics. Prospective customers were drawn to a The Bubble Experience where they snapped photos, took videos and shared their thoughts with their social networks. Leveraging #thesweatlife, Lululemon continues to drive interest in their in-store by hosting free yoga sessions on Saturday mornings, bringing together an eco-system of awareness and visitation.

Wunderlust and Lululemon (read more) - Image: The Register

4. Post images of your physical location.

Posting real-time pictures of your business on a regular basis brings to life who you are, what you stand for and all the perfect reasons a customer should come and visit. New entrant Good Grocer NZ #goodgrocernz ritually posts about what’s new, fresh, tasty, the view of the store, customers having a good time – today, the video of a fresh batch of Bombe Alaska sticks being made reinforced the store’s ‘made for you today’ differentiator

It doesn’t matter what type of pictures you take, as long as you take relevant and appealing ones. These appealing pictures, posted regularly, will convince your social followers that your physical location is worth the visit. I know it works – it’s why I needed to go visit Farro on this day.

5. Show off your best asset - your employees and your partners

People like to see other people. Show off these bright shining stars by employees’ posting images of them having a good time and/or put up profiles of each individual and bring to life their personalities.

Give your social followers a look at the types of people responsible for keeping the business going. This gives your physical location a warmer, more welcoming appeal that encourages increased foot traffic.

6. Encourage social reviews.

To my point at the start of the blog, take 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 or encourage through other communication you may have. Another option is to do this online, by making a post that asks your followers to recount their most recent in-store experience. Burger Wisconsin regularly does this. Try to be original in your phrasing, and respond to the people who have both good and bad things to say.

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 but also shows off the fact that you appreciate your physical customers and makes your physical location more visible.

Using social media is not hard - it just requires courage, consistency, commitment and most importantly relevant and interesting content. Be brave and bold. Try different things. Attract those moths to your flame. And if all else fails, a cute dog will always work.

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