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Social media exists in the online world, so many business owners think that is the only place where they can engage digital audiences and grow a social following.

But, businesses have many opportunities to develop their online presence from their physical location. They can use in-store experiences to drive customers to their social profiles and encourage them to become friends and followers.

Here are a few ways you can do it.

Pick Your Platform

Before you begin to use the physical location of your business to grow a social following, start by determining which social platform you want to focus on.

While your business is probably on multiple social platforms, it helps to focus on just one for your in-store social promotions. It’s better to harness your energy into promoting one site rather than spreading out your efforts to try and promote multiple sites.

Focus on the one platform that resonates most with your target customer and type of business. For example:

  • A clothing store may want to focus on a fashion-oriented site like Pinterest so they can create boards with style guides and outfit suggestions.
  • A restaurant may want to focus on a visual platform like Instagram so they can tap into the trend of food photography.
  • An auto shop may want to focus on a video sharing site like YouTube so they can publish how-to information for car maintenance.

Showcase Your Social Streams

The most obvious way to bring your social media into the in-store experience is to showcase your social streams on digital screens at your location. Using digital signage, you can add real-time feeds of your social media profiles and streams to sidebars or tickers at the bottom of your main programming frames.

You can also feature full-screen displays of social feeds, along with hashtag streams that share any content that uses a branded or specific hashtag related to your business. This allows you to display other content not necessarily always created by you.

Highlight the Benefits of “Following” and “Friending”

As you attempt to grow a social following, don’t just ask people to follow you. Give them a reason to follow you.

Highlight the benefits of being a part of your social network. And, if you don’t have clear benefits, add them. Some examples of how you can use incentives that encourage people to follow you include:

  • Offering exclusive deals to followers and friends of certain networks
  • Offering limited promotions that are announced first on social media
  • Releasing special content that is only available to people in your social circles

Run Contests and Giveaways

Other ways to use incentives to grow a social following are contests and giveaways. Offer potential rewards to customers who connect with you through your social channels.

To get the most out of your social customer contests, don’t just offer a basic enter-to-win giveaway. Instead, ask users to perform actions that will help grow your social following. Give them multiple entries for completing actions like:

  • Sharing your post
  • Tagging their friends
  • Posting a photo related to your brand
  • Liking your pages and following your profiles

Choose incentives that lead fans to spread the word about your brand. As you put together your contest, just be sure to follow the rules of the platform so you don’t get kicked off for violating contest rules.

Feature User-Generated Content

The best way to grow a social media following is to encourage your fans and followers to get involved with your campaigns and conversations. So, create promotions that encourage fans and followers to participate by asking them questions and inviting them to share photos.

Encourage customers to contribute content that relates to your brand, industry, or campaign. Then, highlight user-generated content on digital signs in your location to give a shout-out to fans and build a deeper connection with customers.

Create an In-Store Photo Opp

A fun way to encourage customers to create content about your brand on social media is developing an interesting photo opportunity in your store. Build a display or add a unique flair to your location so customers can’t resist taking their photo and sharing it on social media.

Get even more people to share their experience on social by asking them to tag it with a branded hashtag or include it in a contest where the best photo wins. This strategy gives your brand extra exposure as customers share their photos and promote your business to their followers.

Get Customers to “Check-in”

Another way to leverage your followers so they can help you grow a social following is encouraging them to check-in when they visit your location.

When customers check-in on Yelp, Facebook, or other similar sites, they post a message that promotes your business to their friends and followers. So, offer incentives that encourage customers to check-in. That strategy may include:

  • Giving away a low-value item or discount when customers check-in
  • Reminding customers to check-in by displaying it on doors and in-store digital screens
  • Using a customer loyalty program that rewards customers for checking in a certain number of times

Collect Email Addresses From Customers

At a first look, it may not seem like collecting email addresses from customers can help you grow your social media following. But in addition to growing a valuable list of contacts, a list of email addresses can help you connect with people on Facebook.

Using Facebook advertising, you can upload a list of email addresses and create an audience of people who are using profiles associated with those email addresses. From there, you can create ads that display specifically to that audience.

While this may not directly help you increase your social following, it does enable you to create remarketing and retargeting campaigns that put your brand back in front of people who are already interested in your business, increasing the likelihood that you can make connections with existing and past customers.

Keep Providing Exciting Customer Experiences

Social media may live online, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring a part of that world into your physical store. Focus on providing interesting and engaging customer experiences that cross the boundaries of online and in-person interactions, and you will grow your social following and customer base at the same time.

For more tips on how to provide exceptional customers experiences in your store, grab our free ebook.