New Uses for Social Media?

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One of the questions many companies and clients have is how they can use social media effectively for their business.  Most clients realize that they should have some sort of social media presence, but the default use of social media usually ends up merely being a means for driving traffic to their company website.

While this is one way of using social media, it is far from the only thing social media is capable of doing.  A social media campaign definitely needs to be more than just “bragging”, a trap that many people fall into since it’s the main way that social media is used on a personal level (sharing what restaurant you just ate at or what event you just attended is really just a form of mild bragging).  Companies that go down this road are in for a rough time with social media, as their followers will quickly become immune to the constant spreading of carefully crafted marketing messages.

Given our work on packaged goods and retail clients, my team and I have always been interested in how we could use social media in a more productive and influential way to help drive traffic to retail locations.  Nothing is going to make a retail store owner happier than having a package good company’s sales person walk in the door and announce that they are buying off on a media plan specifically designed to drive people to the store owner’s location.  Retailers know that if a person goes to the store to buy one specific product, chances are that they’ll fill up their basket with a few other items as well.  They start to hear the sound of cash registers ringing in their heads and begin thinking of ways to increase the in-store display area for the client.

So, when all of these social media tools became more prevalent, especially the geography-based “check-in” ones, we started to sit up and take notice.  I was very interested, then, in an article I saw earlier last week entitled “Use Social Media to Drive Visitors to Your Venue.”

The article is written by UK social media agency Punch Communications, and very clearly and succinctly lists four ways that a company can use social media to drive traffic to physical business locations instead of just to a company website.  The suggestions, which include creating hype around store events and using location-based mobile apps like Foursquare, are really quite intuitive when you think about it, but that’s part of the point – most companies and clients don’t think about using social media in this way.

The key is really to not be intimidated by social media, but rather just consider it as yet another tool in your media toolbox.  Think about the objectives you have set up for your total marketing plan, and how your media agency has crafted strategies using different media types to achieve each of those objectives.  Social media should be treated no differently.  If one of your objectives is to drive traffic to a physical location (whether it’s your own local restaurants or whether you want people to visit the local drug store to buy your national OTC brand), then you should be using social media to achieve that objective, not just using it for its own sake to get people to your website.

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