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4 Ways Local Businesses Can Generate More Foot Traffic with Social Media

3.48 BILLION! That is the estimated number of people using social media worldwide. What’s even more shocking is that the number just keeps growing year after year. For business owners it’s a pretty ideal time to be in business. Just look at how many different channels they can access to reach potential customers. The difficulty, however, is getting business owners to actually implement a social media strategy. Most are either intimidated or just don’t understand the potential benefit it could have on their bottom line.

Here’s the thing: at the risk of sounding a bit dramatic, in the 21st century it is absolutely crucial that businesses get on board with using social media. This is especially true for local businesses. Why? Because the fact is that more retail stores are closing than ever before. 2019 is already on track for breaking the all time record. That’s downright scary. Business owners have to be willing to get uncomfortable if they want to survive. Part of that means implementing a social media strategy.

As a prominent New York Digital Agency, we want to share 4 ways local businesses can leverage social media to generate more foot traffic for their business.

Promote User Generated Content

First, let’s start by defining user generated content (UGC). UGC is any type of content that is generated by a customer and then used by the business. This usually translates to increased credibility for the business.

So, what exactly does this look like?

Many clothing businesses have leveraged the power of UGC. They ask their customers to take selfies of themselves wearing clothing items purchased at their store and then ask them to post it on social media (usually Instagram in this case) along with a specific hashtag. This is beneficial for the company in two ways. First, it means that the customers' followers will see the outfit they put together and the hashtag will immediately let them know where it’s from. In turn, this can expose new people to the brand or even remind others to go check out the cute finds they’re seeing. The other benefit is that anyone looking up the hashtag can see how certain items are styled and draw inspiration from them. If they like the look, they’ll want to get the article of clothing for themselves.

This benefits the business by increasing brand awareness and by hopefully encouraging others to come buy what they’ve seen others wear. The best part is that this costs the business nothing. Many popular clothing brands are doing this successfully, including Aerie and Calvin Klein.

You don’t have to be a clothing brand to do this, either. Lay’s potato chips ran a very successful campaign called “Do Us a Flavor,” where they offered customers a cash prize for coming up with potential new chip flavors. Customers went crazy coming up with combinations and posting them on twitter and tagging Lay’s. Then, once the new flavor came out, customers couldn’t get their hands on them fast enough. Everyone wanted to try them out.

Regardless of what you’re selling, make sure to get your customers involved through social media. The more engaged you can get them, the more likely you’re going to get even more customers walking through your doors.

Run Offers that are Exclusive to Social Media Stories

Whether you use Facebook, Instagram, or SnapChat, you’ve likely noticed that all three have a story feature. Businesses can use these to their advantage. For one, it’s a great way to interact with followers without needing a ton of effort. Stories are short so they only require a minimal amount of content.

One way to make the most of stories would be to provide your followers with an exclusive offer. For instance, you could post a promo on your story and make it available only to those who take a screenshot of the offer and bring it in to your store.

This is great for a couple reasons. For one, creating a story doesn’t cost a cent, nor does it take up a lot of time. Customers like to feel exclusive. There’s something rewarding about getting an offer that others aren’t privy to. You can also market that as a benefit to other customers. For example, when a customer makes a purchase at your store and you’re checking them out, you can ask “do you follow us on (insert social media channel)”? If they say no, you can tell them that by following your channel, they’ll get access to exclusive offers and promotions. The greater the following, the greater the opportunity to make sales.

Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews and to Check-in

Getting people to check-in to your business is a great way to get potential customers familiar with your brand. But, first you have to get people to actually check-in. The check-in function is available on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If you want to encourage existing customers to check-in, make sure to provide an incentive. For example, if you’re a local bakery, maybe you offer a daily draw for those who check-in. At the end of the day, all those who checked-in are entered into a draw for the fresh baked pie of the day.

Sometimes marketing is as simple as bringing something to someone’s attention. Imagine you check-in at the bakery and your friend Sam sees via Facebook that you’ve checked in there. She may be reminded that you have the best red velvet cupcakes in town. At that point Sam makes a mental note to stop on the way home to pick some up.

Reviews are equally as important when it comes to social media. More than ever before, businesses need to be concerned about their reputation. People love to use social media to share their opinions. Customers won’t hesitate to leave a review of your service, whether they thought it was good or bad. Potential buyers will often look at a business Facebook page to read reviews before deciding if they want to buy a product or service. They are much more likely to trust what others have to say, over what the business has to say.

If you provide great customer service, you should never hesitate to ask your customers to leave a review. The more positive feedback you receive, the better you’ll position yourself as a leader in your market.

Don’t forget about Facebook groups! If you’re a restaurant, FB groups can make or break your reputation. Most cities have groups that exist specifically to discuss their dining experiences at the various establishments in a particular city. The posts in those groups share both positive and negative experiences. These types of groups typically have lots of members. Group members can also post questions. A question might look something like “It’s my husband’s birthday on Friday and I want to take him out somewhere nice. Where would you recommend”? The goal is always to have your establishment come top of mind when people are looking for recommendations.

The bottom line is that if you build a good reputation for your business, people will be happy to recommend your establishment to others.

Paid Social Media Ads

So far, all the recommended strategies have had no costs attached to them. That just confirms how powerful social media can really be. However, there is definitely a place for paid ads when trying to grow a business. In fact, the best social media marketing strategies should include a mix of both.

Running ads isn’t as scary as it seems. It also doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Simple campaigns can often be the most effective. The most critical piece of the equation is targeting. Who you decide to target will depend on your desired result. If you were using Facebook ads and your product was women’s skincare, you’d likely target women, in your city, who are between a certain age range and who make a certain amount of money. If you know your client base well, you’ll have a better idea of who you should be targeting. Another interesting targeting method, known as geo-targeting can be really effective for increasing your business’ foot traffic. This method allows you to target a specific location. Using our skincare example, you could set up an ad targeting people within a few miles radius of your establishment. The ad could offer a promo for those who visit your store that day. This could work because your prospects would already be in the area, which makes it convenient for them to pop in while they are in the neighborhood.

Social media marketing done right can take a failing business and help turn things around. It can help a business gain credibility, build authenticity, and grow brand recognition. It literally has the power to change the trajectory of your business. Stop thinking of it as “something you should really start doing someday,” and start thinking of it as “I will start doing this today”. Don’t let feeling overwhelmed stop you. As an NY Web Design Company with social media expertise, we’ve helped many businesses grow as a result of our strategies. Give us a call today to learn more about our services.

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