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From Dreaming of Ice Cream To Buying A Cone: How Social Media Gets People into Your Store

How do we get more people into our stores?

It’s an age-old question for B2C companies with brick-and-mortar presences. How do you get people from thinking about your product to entering your storefront and buying that product?

The good news is, social media is here to help — and not just by drawing in crowds.

Social media allows you to have a deeper, longer-lasting, more multi-faceted relationship with your customers than ever before. Don’t miss out on that opportunity.

I’m going to use Seattle ice cream purveyor Molly Moon as my model in much of this post. There’s always a line at Molly Moon’s, especially in the summer but even on rainy Seattle days. That’s not because they’re slow scoopers — it’s because their ice cream is that good and, dare I say, because they use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to their best advantage.

Identify who you want

First, identify your target audience by looking at who engages with you already. Invest in measurement like our Twitter Audience Analysis to see who your major influencers are. (Click on the image to zoom.) Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 3.25.02 PMThen do some qualitative research on those folks to figure out what their common interests are, and what gets them to engage with your content.

Next, start compiling a list of your major influencers’ friends and followers. Set a percentage goal for how many in this expanded audience you want following you or Liking you by a certain date. Since your ultimate goal is to get customers into the store, you could also tie your percentage goal to a target for in-store social engagement (more on that later).

Consider taking your research out of the strictly social environment, too. Which local blogs and influencers can you find that you haven’t reached already? Use all the information you’ve gathered to come up with a diverse group of personas to target, and devote a week out of every month to target each persona for both testing purposes — which personas are responding best — and to reach as wide an audience as possible.

Get on their radar

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 3.48.37 PMIf you’re trying to remind people about one of your stores or announce the opening of a new one, you can’t beat Instagram — especially if your intention is to get at people who are devotees of your brand already. Instagram affords brands a unique sense of intimacy with their fans. Instamacy.

I’m sorry, I had to.

Anyway, an Instagram takeover from your highlighted location (see above) or a scavenger hunt campaign with all signs leading to a new location are fantastic tactics for exposure on this network.

Instagram’s increasingly sophisticated Discovery feature can help loop in soon-to-be-customers in your geographic area, though Facebook and Twitter are generally considered better networks for building awareness with people who don’t know what your brand is or if it’s active on social media.

Another way to increase your brand awareness is by partnering with brands or charities who are willing to amplify your presence on social media.

Measure the success of these partnerships by paying attention to how your engagement and follower count on your chosen social network(s) fluctuate during the partnership period.

Push them over the edge

Now you need to get people from knowing about you to walking through the door. Run a limited-time offer, like urban delivery service Postmates often does.

Also consider running an attractive in-store event (again, from the data you sourced from your fans in the first step) that makes use of hashtags you can track later to determine social success and how it translates to feet in the door.

Another good strategy is involving fans in your decision-making process and asking them for input, which automatically switches their engagement button on and makes them more likely to keep your brand top-of-mind. Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 1.03.49 PMAll of these tactics create a sense of urgency and an additional incentive for people who were interested in entering your store anyway.

Allow room for in-store social engagement

Make sure your customer’s social experience doesn’t end when she walks in your storefront. The goal shouldn’t be just to get her there — it should be to create such a positive and interactive in-store experience that she comes back again and again.

Molly Moon’s, for example, asks customers via in-store chalkboards to use the #icecreammakesyouhappy and #mollymoons hashtags while taking pictures of themselves with their sweet treats. Then they go a step further by offering an opportunity for recognition and Instafame with a status like the one above.

A great way to get people to come back to a place is to remind them of how much fun they had while they were there.

This kind of strategy also turns customers into advocates for your brand. I’d also like to point out the commendable use of cross-channel posting here.

In this post, Molly Moon’s uses Twitter as a vehicle to remind people they’re on Instagram. It’s a solid tactic, especially because it can be challenging to build brand awareness on Instagram thanks to highly personalized feeds.

Which social tactics do you use to get customers into your stores?

How do you define ROI on these strategies? How do you measure your success or setbacks on this front? Let me know in the comments below!
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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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