The Forbes Agency Council recently posted "15 Ways To Bridge The Gap Between Social Media And In-Store Experiences". Great read and great advice for your clients who are active on Social Media and are seeing a disconnect once consumers get into thier stores...
"For retailers, the line between online and offline shopping experiences no longer exists. Today's consumers expect consistent branding and service across all platforms, whether they're physically in a store, browsing products on a website or reaching out on social media.
To succeed in 2018, it's important for retail businesses of any size to prioritize the omnichannel customer experience. We asked Forbes Agency Council members to recommend effective tactics for bridging the gap between a store's social media presence and its in-store retail environment. Here are their best answers.
Images courtesy of FAC members.
Members of the Forbes Agency Council provide their professional insights.
1. Create A Fun Experience
One fun way to draw people from social media into your store location is with a scavenger hunt. Creating a fun and challenging game elicits a need to play along and shows off your company as being fun and knowledgeable. You can use location-based technology to send clues to their phones or just have them find paper clues. Stand out and be memorable; people buy from companies they like. - Summer Gould, Eye/Comm Inc.
2. Try To Replicate The In-Store Experience Online
Don't try and create a separate personality on social media than what is in the retail location(s). First, loyal patrons won't be able to relate and won't engage with a different experience than what they're used to, and second, new customers who learn about your business through social media won't recognize you when they come in. Be the same in both places as much as possible. - Andrew Howlett, Rain
3. Educate Your Employees
Whether you are outsourcing social media management or doing it in-house, don't assume that your store employees are aware of what's being represented online. Make sure that everyone is on the same page. Gaining the buy-in of your employees will help enhance your customers' experience. - Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing
4. Bring Screens Into The Store
Add some screens or iPads in the store to bring user-generated content like reviews to real-life, in-person buying decisions. Doing this also reminds customers that the brand has an online presence and provides an opportunity to get in-person customers on your remarketing lists. - Dan Golden, Be Found Online
5. Drive Cross-Traffic With Special Incentives
To create brand loyalty, it is important to send traffic from your physical storefront to your social media pages and vice versa. Advertise an exclusive in-store special on your company's social media page. This will not only incentivize customers to "follow" you on social media, but it will also motivate customers to visit your store and take advantage of the deal! - Jonathan Snow, Social Cadre
6. Create Original Social Content That Extends The In-Store Experience
Your social media needs to provide consumers a reason to engage – original content they want to see and share. But that original content needs to be an extension of your in-store experience, not just a visual capture or regurgitation. Think of your store, your social media and your marketing as one holistic universe, and ensure that every component is complementary but different. - Craig Greiwe, Rogers & Cowan
7. Provide Top-Notch Customer Service
The single most important aspect of integrating social media presence with your in-store experience is customer service. If your customer's online experience is great but doesn't match their in-store experience, guess what? That great social media presence will backfire, as customers will go online and complain. Make sure there is a consistent brand experience online and offline. - Khuram Zaman, Fifth Tribe
8. Incorporate User Feedback
Interview your top customers. Offer them a nominal amount in the form of a gift card to understand their experiences. Then, implement their feedback and help bring your online persona to the store (or vice versa). Your loyal customers will appreciate the time you took to reach out and understand their concerns. - Twila Grissom, Acorn Digital Strategy
9. Enhance The Mystery Of The Physical/Digital Divide
It's tempting to use social media as the catalog for your retail storefront. While it's a great strategy to tease and inspire interest by featuring eye-catching merchandise, if you give away the full goods to the endless scrollers, you risk losing impact when they step foot in-store. Leave them wanting more to maximize the mystery and drive more foot traffic. - Danny Cox, Blue Truck Studios
10. Facilitate Instagram Moments For Your Customers
Retail business owners, restaurants and hotels should create physical places where customers will want to take a photo and post it on their page – in front of a cool mannequin, fountain or sign. Often, you see ice cream shops with huge ice cream cones or massive Alice in Wonderland chairs in hotel lobbies. People love these things and will post, resulting in free marketing for your business. - T. Maxwell, eMaximize
11. Encourage Social Media Interactions In-Store
With stores transforming from stores to stories, brands will create social interactions. Scaling user-generated content, brands could run in-store contests and promotions to create meaningful engagement with hyperconnected shoppers. Aggregate and filter social media content to feature recommendations from social media influencers and more. - Alannah Tsimis Sandehl, IDM Brand
12. Get Customer-Facing Employees Involved In Social Content Initiatives
Give your customer-facing employees a spotlight on social to introduce content series like curated product collections or their favorite tips and tricks. This can help put faces with names, make customers feel connected to the store on a personal level, and showcase thought leadership in a genuine way. - Brian Sullivan, Sullivan Branding
13. Personify Your Brand On Social Media
We're social people. Roll back the robotics and build relationships with local influencers and businesses, and create active "on-the-street" dialogue on social media. Wendy's Twitter account is a perfect example. We can now put a personality to the brand, and it goes a long way to building relationships and adding value. Give your social presence a personality, too. - Kenny Brightman III, Lion + Panda
14. Livestream A Mini-Series In-Store
While social media can be a great tool for featuring new products or sharing a brand's content, retailers should also consider how they can make their in-store experience more interactive and engaging. For example, a brick-and-mortar store can host a 10-minute live stream once a week and invite shoppers or fans to participate. A lot of investment went into the store build-out – use it! - Chi Zhao, Hokku PR
15. Be Ruthlessly Consistent
The key to success for all brands is ruthless consistency across all platforms. To consumers, everything a brand shares communicates something to them. By being consistent, consumers will receive a clear and concise message. This consistency will build trust and confidence over time, especially if the brand's benefits fulfill a desire or alleviate a pain point. - Pete Canalichio, Licensing Brands, Inc.