In today’s digital age, retail stores, restaurants and other service based businesses like salons, spas, clinics etc. are facing an unprecedented challenge of trying to grow their business. While many brick-and-mortar businesses develop strong personal relationships with regular customers, most of them struggle to gain traction on social media. One of the reasons of not being able to gain much attention online organically is due to giant online retailers like Amazon, EBay, Alibaba, etc. Having a social media presence is an important part of growing your business today. Therefore all small, local business owners should be as concerned with their online profiles as e-commerce businesses.
In today’s world, the average customer will want to experience an establishment before even deciding on visiting it physically. And this is exactly where a brick and mortar business’ online presence comes into play. Those that fall short of a complete social media profile may be seen as behind on the times, or unconcerned about connecting with their customers outside of their stores.
To tackle this easy yet concerning dilemma about having a positive online presence, here are a few different methods to increase social engagement from within your brick and mortar store:
1. Use In-store signage
Place small signs near the checkout or the cash register that are designed to increase social engagement. Make sure you put them in easy view and try to leverage social engagement in exchange for offers like discounts. Increasing your store’s engagement can be done by designing your own themes and hashtags that reflect your brand’s/store’s identity. All in-store signage promoting social media should include:
● A call to action phrase like, “Follow Us on Social Media!”
● A call to action phrase asking customers to check-in, leave a review, and/or share. Eg. “Love your brew? Share a picture of your choice with the hashtag #MyTeaStory!”
● Your brand’s hashtags.
Signs like these will help remind the customer that you’re active on social media and that you want to connect with them there.
2. Target In-store and nearby customers through online ads.
If you don’t trust your customers to hike the engagement once they get home, you can always give them a little nudge with an online ad on the likes of Facebook or Instagram. Facebook’s ad system allows you to target users who have recently visited your store. When a user sees an ad of the place that they recently visited or is near their location, they are bound to check out that online profile, maybe even leave the review you had asked from them during their visit. To do this, focus on location-based targeting by choosing the option, “people who were recently in this location” when you run an ad campaign online.
3. Connect with customers
Gone are the days when you had to wait for your customers to walk into your establishment to interact with them. Today, you need to make consistent efforts to stay connected with them through various ways:
● Social media: Focus on social media platforms where your customers are most active. Your hashtags will come in play especially on sites like Instagram, where posts are segregated on the basis of their hashtags. Post frequently on your social media pages and always reply to questions and comments.
● Email: An email list will give you a way to stay in touch with your customers directly. You can use this to send out newsletters, reminders for latest products and deals and send out coupons.
4. Request customers to check your online profile
Asking this much of your customers is necessary, as long as you ask in a casual way and not impose yourself on your customers for reviews and check-ins. The one-on-one relationships you build in-store are incredibly valuable. They see you as a real person running a business, instead of just a faceless website, which seems un-credible at times. If they like you as a person and you’re asking them for a favor, they’ll be inclined to complete the simple task, whether that’s a check-in on Facebook or leaving a review.
5. Establish yourself on multiple platforms
Now whether you’re an online business or a brick and mortar business, this is one rule that you must always follow. Establishing yourself on various platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter etc. will help you target various types of audience. While Facebook is a universally used platform, if your product is visually easy to depict, you can utilise sites like Instagram and Pinterest.
While these were only a few strategies to help your brick and mortar business thrive in the digital age, keep in mind that just because your business is located in a store, office or restaurant, it doesn’t mean you can’t utilise latest technology to help it develop. These tips are the most effective ways to increase social engagement from your brick-and-mortar location, helping to build a credible online community and increase your client base.