Right around New Years, a blogger contacted us to ask for some social media trends to watch for in 2017. Since there’s so much existing cliche around this topic, it took a surprising amount of digging and shaping to present a take with anything novel to say.
One of the topics that came up during our research was something that could be immediately valuable to RNBA members: the tech community is producing more and more opportunities for brick-and-mortar retail to boost sales using social, and it feels like 2017 might be the year that the trend busts open.
I realize that sounds both completely vapid and completely contradictory at the same time, but please stay with me. Social media’s most famous impact on brick-and-mortar retail to this point, after all, has been a flood of showroomers using their phones to see if the items you’re selling are any cheaper on Amazon. So there’s a natural friction between the two. Arguably, social media is long due to give some benefit back...
Upshow is a user-generated content system based right here in River North. Patrons can see their posts displayed on special in-store monitors when they use a specific hashtag. The posts combine into a special store-specific channel of user-generated content. Customers get to see their posts show up in front of an audience, and the same posts promote the business on social media.
If you’d like a more altruistic solution, take a look at Causely. Causely provides a service whereby businesses can make charitable contributions when their customers generate a certain number of posts or check-ins. For example, you might walk into a restaurant and see a sign saying something like, "Check-in on Facebook and Support Doctors Without Borders." When customers check in on social media, they automatically promote your location to their friends.
New promotional opportunities are also available through digital advertising. Facebook continually publishes new ad formats that help business owners target for specific objectives. Our company recently wrote about a brand new type of ad called the Store Visit ad. This method uses geographic targeting to show your ad on the phones of people who happen to be within a certain radius of one of your locations. If that person then comes into your store, Facebook will track their arrival using the phone’s GPS, and thus provide a conversion measurement.
Finally, I should point out that you don’t necessarily need to buy into one of these systems in order to capitalize on their ideas. The caché of startups like Upshow and Causely is their ability to incentivize posting about your business, creating a viral kind of social proof. Many stores conduct their own social media promos based on this idea (e.g. “Check-in for a chance to win…”). Other businesses do something similar using in-store events. What matters is that the incentive is obvious, clear and interesting.
And that’s it. Enjoy your 2017. May the “Socials” be kind to you!