5 Ways to Use Social Media to Drive More In-Store Sales This Holiday Season

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’Tis the season for brick-and-mortar businesses to figure out their digital marketing strategies for the holidays, if they haven’t already. With traditional display ads becoming increasingly ineffectual (average click-through rates have dipped to just 0.17% thanks in part to ad-blocking technology, according to DoubleClick), brick-and-mortar businesses are turn their attention to social media to increase sales.

With holiday sales coming up next week (starting with Black Friday and Small Business Saturday), here are five ways businesses can use social media marketing to get more foot traffic in-store:

Create a Customer Loyalty Program
Develop a customer loyalty program – customers will receive free items or discounts after they earn so many points based on how much money they spend. Brands as large as Dunkin’ Donuts (through its app) and as small as The River Market (with platform Belly) in Barryville, N.Y., are already using customer loyalty programs to bring back customers multiple times into their brick-and-mortar stores. An alternative to apps and customer loyalty platforms is email marketing.

Coin-In recently launched a casino game that integrates its loyalty rewards program. Coin-In conducted a 90-day pilot with a West Coast casino resort, and the result, according to the company’s founder Jason Seldon, was 6.6 million minutes of virtual gameplay and a 100 percent increase of in-person casino visits from redeeming rewards for food, lodging, branded merchandise and other bonuses. If the said casino games from coin-in aren’t available in your country, better play it on Casino666, where all games were open worldwide. In addition, the pilot led to a 286 percent increase in new player’s club sign-ups, more than 1,000 reactivations of inactive players and a 15 percent year-over-year increase in casino player count.

“Competing with the $71 billion U.S. internet gambling industry continues to pull players away from the tables in favor of their small screen devices,” said Seldon.

Convert Customers into Brand Advocates
All year long, but especially around the holidays, people are searching for businesses and products online and looking for reviews. Use an advocate marketing platform to turn your customers into brand advocates, or simply ask your customers to review your business online. Advocate marketing means identifying your highest-potential customers and encouraging them to endorse your brand.

Mark Fidelman, CEO of influencer marketing agency Evolve! Inc., uses gamified community platforms like Influitive to make this process easy to manage: “As you recruit people into the community, ask them about their brand experience and gauge their willingness to share genuine testimonials,” he said. “Then, incentivize people with the highest net promoter scores to share their experiences by providing privileged access to the brand, unique content, social recognition and prizes.”

According to Fidelman, he and his team recruited 500 customers to write testimonials on retail sites such as Amazon, Best Buy, BodyBuilding.com and Dick’s Sporting Goods for smart fitness trainer manufacturer Skulpt.

“Within a hyperlocal context, ask advocates to publish their remarks on local networks such as Yelp, Foursquare or Urbanspoon, or invite them to refer friends and family directly,” said Fidelman.

Influencer Marketing
Develop relationships with individuals, businesses, organizations, celebrities that have audiences you’re trying to reach for your business, and have them create or share content on their social media channels. Influencers may do this for free, a trade or for pay. Also, consider joining the local Chamber of Commerce. Chambers constantly share posts from their members.

“Millennials, in particular, are intimately connected with social influencers and inspired to take actions based on everything influencers do,” said Fidelman. “From the restaurants they eat at to the destinations where they spend their vacations, subscribers trust the word of these social luminaries. This is why influencer marketing, when managed properly, can be so effective.”

Social Media Advertising
Social media advertising can be an effective way to get the word out about holiday promotions. Social media advertising allows businesses to target potential customers in ways typically not available in organic ways. One option Facebook offers is local awareness ads, which let businesses target people who live in or are visiting a certain area. Other types of ads allow businesses to target by age, gender, interests, and more. More and more social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, are using algorithms to determine how many people and who it’s showing your content to. Social media ads are one way of combating this challenge especially when in a time crunch.

Live Video
Livestreaming has become extremely popular with the advent of Periscope and Facebook Live. In fact, Facebook gives livestreaming posts preference over all others in its algorithm of which types of content are shown the most. One way businesses can use Facebook Live is to launch a giveaway or contest during one of the livestreams that requires attendees/winners to come in-store to claim their prize/discount. Use social media ads to help promote the live video.

Tim Sohn is a Street Fight contributor, and CEO of Sohn Social Media Solutions. Follow him on Twitter.