Tips for interacting, posting
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You’ll quickly find that there is a group of people who embrace the culture of journaling their life online via check-ins and photo sharing. These people usually feel happy and appreciated when they get asked questions about it or acknowledged for doing so because they’re doing it out of their own interest. So don’t worry about being obtrusive or appearing nosey. If you approach it from the mindset of engaging customers so you can better serve them, they’ll be happy to talk about their online preferences.
You may also wish to post a sign reminding customers to check in at your location. Yelp and FourSquare in particular have many marketing items you can get for free, including window stickers and QR codes, to educate and remind people.
3. Watch your local profiles and interact with your customers there.
To get the most from your local profile, you need to manage it. Train your managers to check the profiles daily or at least once a week to respond to new reviews. If there’s a negative review, you want to reply immediately to the customer to turn the situation around.
For example, if a customer writes that they received poor service, apologize for the service, assure them that’s not your company’s culture, and offer them an incentive to return and try you again. When others see how you handled the negative comment, they’ll see it as an isolated incident and not the norm. Conversely, if they see negative reviews with no resolution, they’ll think you don’t really care about customers.
Likewise, when you receive positive reviews, thank the person for visiting and encourage them to return. Use compliments as an opportunity to reinforce your brand and your company’s image in the community.
4. Post an offer.
Incentivize people to check in, post a picture or interact in some other way by offering a discount or other perk. Some ideas include a free appetizer, 10 percent off a meal, a double punch on a loyalty card or anything else that would be of value to your customers. Realize that for most people, their smartphone is an extension of their personality, and it’s something they carry with them at all times. When your incentive pops up on their app, that’s a way of keeping your company in front of your customers and they will take action, especially if they feel rewarded for doing so.
Using local platforms to engage and interact with customers is a way to influence offline behavior using online channels. For many people, it’s a new way to look at online marketing, especially since it’s not designed to generate online sales. Therefore, you need to view it as one component of a comprehensive promotional strategy. When you embrace online local marketing as a tool to influence offline sales, you’ll reap the rewards of an integrated marketing campaign.
Allison Nuanes is the director of off-site Promotions at Volume 9 Inc. She focuses on identifying opportunities for brands to expand their footprint online.