You may think that just having social media set up for your business puts you ahead of the curve. And a year ago, it did. With the changing face of social media, though, simply having a presence sometimes isn’t enough to actually get your customers to follow you, let alone engage. Here are a few tips:
Hold live events. Get your customers to do the talking by encouraging them to check in, tweet and/or Instagram photos from the event. Gainesville’s own Hippodrome Theatre has been at the forefront of the newest type of theatrical social media promotion: Tweet Seats. During one of its preview performances, The Hipp invites a small group of Twitter-savvy patrons to live-tweet their thoughts about the performance from a secluded area. Artistic Director Lauren Caldwell says, “It really is fun to watch, in real time, the reactions; and, oftentimes, the re-tweet process moves way beyond the people in the theatre.”
When Zoom Room, a dog training and agility center chain, opened up a location in Silicon Valley, the company took to Facebook well in advance of its grand opening to get people interested. For every person who R.S.V.P.’d and then attended the grand opening, they agreed to donate $10 to a local animal care center. They got the word out through a promoted post on Facebook and even got the attention of other local businesses who lined up to donate for opening-day raffles. This spirit of giving resulted in a packed house on opening day and good conversion into customers.
You may have seen at least one of Oreo’s Daily Twist images last summer (if not, Scott Monty has a great slideshow: https://www.scottmonty.com/2012/10/a-new-twist-on-content.html. These quick, clever and fun images gave fans something to look forward to every day: seeing what Oreo would feature next and how they would do it. In February, Taco Bell took to a fairly new video service, Vine, to announce its Cool Ranch Doritos Loco Taco: https://twitter.com/TacoBell/status/301725088863113216. These kinds of creative, outside-the-box ideas can easily translate to small businesses.
People love to know who’s behind the businesses they frequent, and local businesses definitely have an advantage there. Mix in some personal anecdotes along with all of the business updates. Give them a behind-the-scenes look at renovations to your store, a sneak peek of the newest shipment or a video of the production process. Tell them to wish an employee “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Anniversary” when they stop in. These personal touches make your customers feel more invested in your business, and that makes them more loyal, as well.
Obviously, just copying something someone else did isn’t truly innovative. Instead, use these ideas to inspire you to use social media in new and unexpected ways to capture the attention of your audience.
Disclosure: Crystal Coleman formerly was employed by the Hippodrome Theatre and worked with its social media team.
Crystal Coleman is a Gainesville native now living in Silicon Valley and working as a Community Consultant for Ning. You can follow her tweets
@ThatGirlCrystal and read her blog at