[tweetmeme source=”barrydewar” alias=”http://ow.ly/2blpR” only_single=false style=”compact”]Social media channels are ideally suited to increasing footfall in retail and leisure businesses on a local level. You just have to remember to feed the beast from both ends.
Setting up a presence on Facebook, Flickr and Foursquare is vital, if you are a retail or leisure business who hasn’t done that, sort it out. They give your customers something tangible they can engage with when they are away from your establishment.
With just a little bit of a push you should be able to build up a reasonable sized network (providing your goods and services aren’t crap). Be aware though that although you may have 500 followers on Twitter and 2000 Facebook friends, this will not translate directly into significantly increased footfall.
You may well see the odd spike if you generate a bit of buzz with an offer or event but non-connected customers will still be in the majority (at least for now). You should know this already because you’ve surveyed your customers to see how they heard of you right?
Here’s the thing
The reason you’re not seeing increased footfall is because you’re not incentivising your network. It’s not enough just to broadcast your offers across Facebook and Twitter in order to increase the numbers a wee bit. If that offer is also available to offline customers then your audience will pretty quickly stop feeling special and their support will dwindle.
Instead, why not try giving a discount to all your Facebook fans (for one day only). Or, better still, give a reward if someone refers a friend and they come in to buy. This will make it worth being an active member of your network and increase the likelihood that people will come along as well as encourage them to promote you to others.
As for feeding the other end
It’s vital that you promote your digital presence offline as well. Have cards printed to give away telling people how to connect with you online, tell them what it’s worth and the offers they will receive. Ask for some details from them in return, specifically their name and email address.
Then, build a database of customers and add some value fields to this such as their preferred meal, next appointment or anything that might be useful for profiling them. Next time they come in, ask them if they’ve been before and look them up. Ask if they want the usual and see them light up. (They won’t all light up, but remember, they can always say no, do resist pushing at people who are marketing resistant, it can get ugly).
So you use social media to drive customers to your establishment and then you use your establishment to drive followers to join your network.
From there you might want to start thinking about affiliate deals, members clubs or even branching out. It all becomes easier when you’ve got an enthusiastic network of actively engaged advocates.
*Photo credit Drew Leavy