Businesses today are looking towards social media as an increasingly important part of their marketing strategies. It is not hard to see why: recent Smart Insights data pegs the number of active users on Facebook alone at 1.6 billion, or in other words, almost a quarter of the world’s population.

In terms of audience reach for marketing purposes, numbers like this would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Add to this the fact that more and more people are following brands on social media – over a quarter of UK shoppers now do it – and the importance of having a robust social media marketing strategy should be clear to any business.  

It is not just about driving traffic to websites and generating leads and sales – when done right, social media tactics can also play a big role in driving physical footfall into your stores.

How should you align your social media strategy?

Your brand’s social media strategy cannot work in isolation – it needs to align with what is happening in-store and across the rest of your marketing channels, i.e. have customized brand messages for each channel that still follow a consistent campaign or promotion theme. Effective cross-promotion increases audience reach as well as engagement, both of which are key factors in measuring social media ROI.

Consistency should be the goal, as your audience should be able to easily identify content from your brand. However, getting them to simply ‘follow’ your brand on social media will not suffice – this drives little long-term benefit and results in no specific action online. What you need are tactics that actively encourage engagement and conversion. Customers today are more ready than ever to be converted to new retail experiences, and there are few better methods for your brand to help them do so than through social media.

What social media tactics should you use for increasing online-to-offline traffic?

There are a number of ways you can use social media to encourage your customers to make the switch from online to offline:  

Share exclusive information about in-store offers and events

Customers like to feel important, so providing exclusivity to your brand’s social media base is an excellent strategy to drive them to stores. This could take a number of forms: a one-off in-store preview of your new collection, for example, or discounts for customers entering your store who ‘check in’ on Facebook. Twitter is also an effective platform for promoting in-store offers and events, as evidenced by the countless retailers using the channel for exactly this purpose, including Target. SocialMedia_Twitter_Target.png

Also consider offering customers exclusive vouchers through social media for them to then redeem in stores. People seem to be much more inclined to visit stores when they are in possession of vouchers (89% of consumers use paper coupons according to Valassis), while studies by RetailMeNot show that three in five shoppers actively seek out coupons over any other type of promotions.

Hold social media competitions that involve customers going into stores

The rise of social media has turned contests and competitions into powerful marketing tools that can be used to drive in-store footfall.

A great example of this is fashion retailer Topshop’s London Fashion Week campaign in 2014, where they asked their fans to share Fashion-Week-styled photos on social media for a chance to win a very unique prize: the experience of watching the actual fashion show as it happened, using virtual-reality headsets while sitting in the brand’s flagship store windows. After the event, Topshop opened up the experience to the general public, ensuring even more in-store footfall on top of the significant social media buzz the campaign had already generated.

Use targeted posts on organic and paid social media

Retailers today are also leveraging technology to target customers based on their exact geographical locations, providing them with personalized promotions and offers that they can conveniently use in nearby stores while on the move.

Setting this up does not have to be too complicated – rather than creating individual landing pages on your website to provide full details of the promotions or offers in applicable locations, you can use your dedicated location pages within your Store Locator to highlight events and offers using images, banners and videos, while also sharing your store location address, contact details and opening hours. The Local Pages feature by BRIDGE is great for doing this.

There are also many other ways to target audiences on social media. As well as location, Facebook offers in-depth targeting metrics for audience demographics, interests and behaviours for their paid ads (and similar demography-based targeting options for organic posts), while Twitter paid ads let you target your audience’s language, gender, interests, behaviours, followers, devices used, and keywords used.     


 How BRIDGE can help your organization

BRIDGE is a specialist SaaS (Software as a Service) provider, offering a full range of online-to-offline solutions to businesses looking to increase footfall in their stores. Learn more about how we can help you.

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