3 Not-So-Conventional Ways to Take Your Social Media Communities Into the Real World
When it comes down to it, your social media strategy exists for one purpose: to drive business your way.
But the speed and power with which we wield these social profiles sometimes blinds us from this purpose, and in the midst of the hustle and bustle of a Twitter feed, we lose sight of our goals.
Social media lets us constantly engage with our customers, business partners, and industry influencers. So from a business standpoint, it’s important to consider how you can leverage this online influence into offline results.
Let’s consider, for a second, how a Twitter feed would look in the real world. You’ve got 140 characters, or about 35 words, to convey what you mean in a never-ending feed of other peoples’ content that is also vying for an audience’s limited attention span.
It’s like standing on 5th avenue and waving a promotional flyer in the face of everyone who walks by. You’d better have a damn good flyer, a damn good pitch…or be a celebrity.
Bridging the gap between the online world and the real world is quickly becoming a new business trend – and a highly effective one at that.
Building this bridge requires the creative ability to connect social media activities with real world, concrete goals. A goal could be something measurable like increasing your social reach and quarterly sales, or it could be something a little more abstract like raising your level of authority and industry influence.
Whatever your goals are, two things are clear; 1) you need social media, and 2) you’ll have to translate social media successes into profit.
Below are 3 not-so- conventional ways to strategically translate your social media engagements into offline results.
1. Scavenger Hunts
Social media contests and promotional offers are something you hear about and see all the time. “Like” our page for a chance to win a free Tshirt!” or “Tweet at us with the hashtag ‘Winning’ and get 20% off your next purchase!”
Contests are popular because they work. They play to the innate human longing for competition…plus, people just like getting free stuff.
More recently, I’ve been seeing social media contests sprout up that have bridged the gap between the online and offline worlds.
Scavenger hunts. Now that’s winning.
Everyone loves a scavenger hunt. Maybe it brings you back to your childhood and the drive you felt to find all those Easter eggs before your cousin did, or maybe you just get a kick out of some good-natured competition. Whatever the case may be, they undeniably arouse curiosity and a tenacity to win.
Let’s take a look at some examples.
Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop had the genius idea of starting a scavenger hunt during the United States’ “National Coffee Week,” using the free publicity from the holiday as an extra boost.
Their idea is simple: promote the scavenger hunt via social media, give clues out as to the whereabouts of the “golden envelope” gifts, and sell select coffee blends for $1 per cup for that week. The low barriers to entry and an encouragement to share, share, share gave this campaign the propellant it needed to take off. Who wouldn’t want to share a picture of themselves on Twitter with a golden envelope they found in a random garage, and who wouldn’t buy a coffee for $1?
Equally as awesome is Icelandair’s ongoing scavenger hunt campaigns that have hit every city that’s opened its doors to the airline. Read more about those campaigns here.
If an in-person scavenger hunt doesn’t meet your company’s needs, there’s always the digital approach in which participants follow online instructions and ultimately land at one last clue that will win them the prize.
The benefits of doing a digital scavenger hunt include reaching a larger audience (because people don’t have to leave their work/home), not limiting participation to one region, and being able to track participation & engagement.
Seattle Opera House has put on a handful of in-person and digital scavenger hunts to increase brand awareness, ramp up social engagements, and appeal to younger generations by showing that they’re not just for artsy parents. Read a great blog post on those scavenger hunts here.
So if you’re looking to take the lead from social media to the real world, consider hosting a scavenger hunt, your audience will love you for it.
2. Turn Your Brand Into an Experience
“Turning your brand into an experience,” sounds a little corny, I know. But let’s delve a little deeper into it.
You’re regularly posting on Facebook and Twitter. You’re doing everything from curating relevant articles to posting your own blog posts, trying to be funny (when possible), and leading conversations with customers and industry influencers alike.
That’s all great. That’s what you should be doing. But you could easily take it one step further by directly engaging in the life of a favorite (or loyal) customer – putting a real-world stamp on the digital communications you’ve been having with this person.
Outback Steakhouse masterfully created a whole campaign out of this, and then reaped the social and real-world rewards.
They took one of their most loyal Twitter followers, sent him an out-of-the-blue Tweet that looked like this:
And then let the social word spread.
The recipient of their gift, Dave, got a pretty sweet care package delivered to his doorstep for his birthday; along with 40 other small presents (inside this package) that he was able to give to anyone he wants.
Essentially, Outback Steakhouse worked out a way to directly engage with 41 people by giving them some free food, and indirectly engage with the thousands of people following this story through Twitter.
They leveraged the power of social media by using a real-world gift to impact the lives of those who know and love their restaurants. Genius. Read the full story here.
3. Host a Meetup Dinner
This method is simple but effective.
You’ve got a target audience, and you’ve painstakingly built an online community comprised of that audience whom you engage with on a daily basis. Your Facebook and Twitter pages are full of meaningful discussions with customers, followers, and industry influencers.
For most companies, this is where the buck stops, because that’s just industry standard.
But let’s look at this from another perspective…
Say you’ve been using a dating app (Tinder, OKCupid, Match.com…take your pick) and you’ve been talking to a person for 2 weeks. The conversation has been flowing, you’re laughing, you’re learning, and you’re having fun.
If the conversation didn’t go offline, if you didn’t end up meeting with that person, conventional dating wisdom would tell us that’s just plain odd…right?
Now put your business shoes back on.
You’ve developed meaningful relationships with these people overtime. You’ve done business together, exchanged knowledge, and shared each others’ content and hard work. It’s time to take the relationship offline – it’s time to make it “official.”
And what better way to do so than with a dinner date (of sorts).
Hosting a dinner meetup is a perfect way for you to bridge that gap between your business’s online and offline presence. Everyone loves free food, free alcohol, and most people love meeting new people.
Doing this is simple: create a small campaign (some creatives and copy), promote it throughout your social channels, and wait for the RSVPs to roll in.
Hint: make sure you limit the number of participants, or else you’ll have a hefty dinner check to tend to.
The great thing is participants will automatically fit the type of persona you’re looking for: they’re active in the industry, interested and up-to-date with what your company does, and outgoing (enough) to meet strangers on a whim. These are just the type of people you’re looking to build real-world connections with, because their voice gets heard by many others.
And when they pass the good word about your company around to their friends, and Tweet about you and your awesome, sponsored meetup at the best Mexican restaurant in town, you’re building your reputation, both on and offline.
The social web has created a platform on which we can speedily interact with people from around the world on topics that interest us. Small interactions, as we’ve seen, can lead to larger engagements, meaningful relationships, and new opportunities.
So take what you’ve gained from your online social profiles, put them into a real world context, and let the word spread.