Building a large portfolio of social media followers is a great achievement in generating a solid online presence. The next, crucial step is to convert those people from passive followers into engaged buyers.

With social media now one of the most important elements of a brand’s digital marketing strategy, it is a channel rich with opportunity - to drive sales, communicate with customers and build a cohesive brand presence. So how can you bridge the gap, going online to offline (o2o) and turning social followers into in-store shoppers?

Three ways you can use social to convert

Harness influencer marketing

Influencer marketing — broadly defined as working with social media stars who will actively promote your company on their social channels  can be difficult to get right, but it certainly pays off when done effectively.

Start by researching social media heavyweights in your industry  some of the most successful have thousands upon thousands of followers, so bring some real kudos. Then approach them about working together  be upfront about what you’d like them to do  and gauge their interest. The kind of activity they could do for you could range from promoting a product, linking to an in-store event or simply praising your brand.

Promote in-store events online

Everything you do on social doesn’t have to be about what’s going on online. You can bring together the on and offline worlds by using digital marketing to talk about what’s happening in your stores. Promote in-store events and offers on your social channels, perhaps even offering an additional incentive like a discount. Share these events and special offers on your specific store locator pages and be discoverable on all channels.

Talking about what’s going on in your physical stores is also a good way to practice local SEO techniques on a regular basis. If you promote specific stores on your blog, you will automatically be using local keywords (like ‘car repairs in Illinois’)  in turn, this helps your stores rank online.

Use Gated Content

You can use what’s known as ‘gated content’ in order to give your customers something they find useful  in return for which, they’ll give you something you find useful too. Use social to promote a variety of content  like discount codes, in-store events, training courses  that your followers can enjoy if they give you some contact information, like their email address.

You can then use this information to build an email marketing list, regularly sending your followers specific content and promotions tailored to their needs.

How to target your followers correctly

Key to digital communication is delivering a message people actually want to hear. This is where profiling comes in, and it’s worth discussing in the context of converting social followers into shoppers, because offering on-point content is where it all starts.

Run focus groups

Want to know what makes your followers tick? Hold local focus groups where you invite some of your social followers in for a chat  find out what their interests are, what they like to do in their spare time, what they like and don’t like about your brand, and more. This will give tons of useful data you can use to create good content ideas. You’ll also be able to see the nuances from your audience first hand across different regions and learn how to communicate to and tailor each store messaging to its customers’ needs.

Use analytics

Using an analytics platform like Google Analytics is useful in getting strategic over your social media distribution. Specifically, how often you should post, and at what times. GA will be able to tell you when your followers are most active, and how often they click on your links. Using this critical information can certainly push you in the right direction when it comes with communicating with and connecting with your audience.

As you acquire a substantial following across social media channels, it’s important to continue connecting with those potential customers, transforming them from online followers to offline buyers. To bridge the digital gap between online communications and offline products or events, a personalized, local and customer-focused approach is best.


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