creating an offline social media strategyIt’s official…

Social Media is a fantastic way to connect and engage with your customers and potential customers.

Social media allows you to reach hundreds, even thousands of people online. But unless you’re selling products and services exclusively online, you’ll want at least some of those people to visit your business and purchase your products and services.

So how do you do that?

Create an Offline Social Media Strategy

One of the most important things to consider when developing an effective social media strategy is to understand that social media is more than just maintaining your Facebook Page and tweeting a few times a day.

An effective Social Media Marketing campaign converts followers into customers.

Concrete, on-the-ground results are necessary for any social media campaign to be a success. Otherwise, how else will you know that your efforts are paying off?

Online social media activities must tie in with your offline activities

It is amazing that so many businesses are participating in social media and yet they haven’t seemed to convey this information to their staff (or their owners!).

Have you ever mentioned to a business owner, or a staff member, that you’ve ‘seen them on Twitter’ only to have them return your comment with a blank stare or worse, a look of fear of not knowing what in the world you’re talking about?

Don’t be that business!

Inform your staff (or your owner!) of all your online activities. Train them to engage with customers about your social media activities, especially with those customers who mention social media specifically.

For example, a restaurant might train servers to let customers know the restaurant is on Facebook and offer a free dessert or 5% off the bill if a customer writes their Facebook account or Twitter handle on the bill.

Make it someone’s responsibility to actually USE this information by connecting with customers online in a timely fashion, thanking them for visiting the business and incenting them to visit again or share the experience with their networks.

With a little creativity, this strategy can be adapted to practically any business. And all it’ll cost you is some co-ordination between your online presence and your offline staff (and a little swag for good measure!).

Create an Offline Offer for an Online Activity

People like special offers.

In exchange for your online followers mentioning your business online, offer them a discount or even a freebie on one of your products if they visit your store to pick it up.

Be creative! Offer an additional discount if they bring a friend. Or offer a daliy discount to anyone who visits your store and provides you with one of their social media handles (see ‘train staff’ above!).

A good strategy is to set your offers to run during your down-time. Days when you know business may be slow. That way you’ll be getting the most bang for your promotional buck!

Make sure to thank all your customers, publicly and online, who participate in your offers. This will increase the likelihood that they’ll share their positive experiences of your business with their online networks.

Host a TweetUp!

What’s a TweetUp?

A TweetUp is simply an offline get together made up of people from your local online community. In other words, it’s where online meets offline and they’re doing it at your place of business!

Begin by searching for local tweeters in your area. Next, create a Twitter List to organize and interact with local tweeters, letting them know you’re considering a TweetUp at your business.

Once you’ve established enough interest in the concept, create an online RSVP for your event with Tweetvite. Tweetvite is free, and it’s designed specifically for organizing TweetUps.

It’s also a great way to get tweeters to commit to attending your event (increasing the liklihood that they’ll show up), it allows you see how many times the page has been visited and how many confirmed attendees you have so you can plan accordingly.

Perhaps most importanty, a third party RSVP site, like Tweetvite, encourages people to leave comments and interact with each other – building the sense of community even further between you and your online followers.

Online or Offline, Social Media must always be ‘SOCIAL’

Remember that every effective social media strategy integrates online activities with offline activities. And the common thread is ‘social’. Interact with your customers, engage with your audience and you’ll see happy customers who are eager to rave about your business both online and offline!

If you liked this post, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment (and a link to your Tweetup?) below:

[Image Credit: @jimmyweee]