5 Strategies for SMBs Using Social Gifting Apps

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giftsTranslating Facebook fans and Twitter followers into actual sales is a challenge that even the largest brands are still working to overcome. More than half of Facebook users (58%) now say they expect exclusive offers and promotions when they become fans of a business online, which means retailers have to go above and beyond if they want to impress those customers enough to lure them into their stores.

To break through the clutter and get noticed, small businesses are increasingly using social gifting platforms to send gift cards and physical items to online fans. As with many new marketing platforms, however, social gifting can seem overwhelming for SMBs at first, and it can be a delicate balance to determine just how much product to give away through this type of platform.

Here are five tips from the experts on what small businesses can do to ensure a high ROI on any social gifting promotions.

1) Encourage users to share “free” gifts. When working with a social gifting platform, small business owners should consider offering small “free” gifts that users can send to their friends. Free promotional gifts — like a $5 gift card, for example — can be an incredibly cost-effective way of acquiring new customers. When businesses limit their offerings to paid gifts only, they limit the number of friends that users will consider sending their gifts to, and lose out on many of the benefits of social gifting. (Zach Smith, Boomerang)

2) Make customers aware of the program. This may seem obvious, but the reality is that many businesses fail to tell people about the programs or promotions they offer. Businesses shouldn’t just assume that their customers know about their social gifting program (or even traditional gift certificates, for that matter). SMBs shouldn’t spam their customers, of course, but gentle reminders in the form of newsletters with links, signage in multiple places along the retail storefront, and employees who are legitimately able to mention appropriate options during conversations go a long way toward making social gifting successful. (Brad Brighton, It’s On Me)

3) Bring online conversations into the real world. Giving a brand loyalist a shout-out on Facebook isn’t going to drive sales in the way an actual gift will. When businesses send their Facebook fans and Twitter followers gifts from their own stores, or even gift cards to popular local coffee shops, they effectively move the conversation and the relationship from the virtual world into the real world. (Trish Tobin, Treater)

4) Give experienced-based gifts. Traditional limitations have historically prevented restaurant owners from selling inventory outside their four walls. When they use social gifting platforms to sell experienced-based items, local businesses can create entirely new revenue channels. A glass of wine or dessert can easily be exchanged between friends on social networks, allowing merchants to connect and transact digitally with customers when they are outside their physical locations. (Ryan Halper, Gratafy)

5) Think beyond the holiday season. A common misconception about gifting is that it should be reserved for a handful of defined events, like birthdays, Christmas, Hanukah, and anniversaries. In reality, people give gifts all the time. They buy friends lunch in exchange for helping them move, or they buy coffee for a colleague to say “good job.” Businesses should let their customers know they’re “just a click away,” especially if they’re local. SMBs should make sure their offerings cover the impulse purchase price range to prevent losing out on amplified word-of-mouth by only offering social gifts in denominations of $20 or more. (Brad Brighton, It’s On Me)

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.