For many individuals, social media is fast becoming a way of life. Tweet about lunch. Check into lunch restaurant on FourSquare. Post a photo on Facebook wall of co-workers waiting for food to arrive. Show restaurant server the electronic certificate bought from LivingSocial for $20 worth of food purchased for $10 last week. Leave a review on Yelp with 4 stars. 

However, these types of experiences are meant to be social events, not electronic milestones that are captured solely by profile updates and number of likes.

So how can businesses find the “fine line” between embracing those who share their live entirely online while also still enrapturing them into a physical, in-person experience?

The answer lies in the intertwining of digital sharing with a person’s electronic network and making sure that a customer has the best in-person experience they possibly can.

  1. Require More Action. For instance, many Houlihan’s (a midwest American restaurant chain that began in Kansas City) offers customers a free plate of frites for every check-in on FourSquare. How can Houlihan’s set themselves apart from other restaurants offering deals for check ins? Up the ante. Give mayors 25% off their entire order. Have customers show their server a tweeted picture on TweetPic of their table posing with Houlhan’s menus. Allow for brand saturation in instant memories– that is a photo of a happy hour with friends that might not have been recorded had Houlihan’s not offered the deal.
  2. Inspire Conversation. Use online media to get people talking in situations where it may be awkward at first. At an industry conference, give away t-shirts where users write in their Twitter username or website URL with a sharpie. Have trivia questions at the beginning of group employee orientations that require users to use their smartphones or to share a fact about their online self (eg. “How many Twitter followers do you have?”)
  3. Don’t Make Everything About Social Media. Find creative ways to tie-in a company’s social media presence, without making it the main message. Business cards are a great example of this. An employee’s name, phone, and email should still be the crucial information here, necessarily the company’s URL or the reminder to “Follow us on Facebook!”. Should a banner at a company-client mixer simply say, “We are on FourSquare!”? Or would a better use of banner resources be something like, “We offer 10% off all color letterpress invitations we offer for every FourSquare check-in”. Give customers a reason to connect on social media. Simply telling them to do so doesn’t give as much initiative as the answer to WHY does.
  4. Stay as Up-To-Date As Your Industry Is. An Internet marketing business may have more clients who know about Scvngr than a company that sells semi-truck tires. Many semi-truck tire customers may not even know about Twitter. Hence, focusing resources on an up-to-date Twitter account may not be the best use of resources. Be up-to-date with customer’s interests and what they use most of instead of trying to stay up-to-date with technology as a whole, which changes by leaps and bounds every year.

The possibilities to intertwine social media and other marketing efforts (and in-person experiences) without making it overwhelming are endless.

Focusing on core customer demographics and what they are actually using has a lot more benefit than diving headfirst into all social media networks out there and hoping one or two of them get the company more new and returning customers who enjoy interacting online.

What are some other ways companies can use social media without letting it run their entire marketing and customer interaction strategy?

Images Courtesy of: Tribute Media and Scvngr.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Search & Social

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About The Author: runs her own social media and search marketing business, MoxieDot, where she helps clients grow their online presence. She was voted one of the top 100 marketers of the year by Invesp in 2009 and has worked for Yelp, Run.com, and Bounty Towels.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+



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  • http://www.directresponse.net Dave

    Kelsey, some really great incite in this article.

    I couldn’t agree more with you when you say the interactions between a business and its social media users are endless. We have entered an era where people are getting bored and ignoring traditional advertising and looking for something new.

    Your statement about giving the customer a reason to check in rather than just asking them is great as well. Customer satisfaction will drive people to post good reviews out of the kindness of their heart, but giving them a qualitative incentive would seem to create larger results.

 

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