Small businesses who drive sales with local foot traffic know that coupons and deals help drive traffic through the door. Even service businesses know that great customer service, or asking customers to pay early for 10 percent off their current invoice, is a good strategy.
Social media is no different. Customers don’t take action just because the sun is out. They take actions—be it signing up to a newsletter, Liking a Facebook page, sharing something on Google+ or sending a Tweet—for their own selfish reasons.
Most businesses are struggling to produce great content as a way to build online traffic, and this is a great alternative to connecting with customers. You can even take things to another level by offering clear and explicit incentives as a reward for actions your online audience.
For example, you could offer every new customer who adds you to their Google+ stream a coupon for 10 percent off. Or make Thursday’s special Twitter days and all customers who Tweet about your business get a $100 coupon for your accounting services.
You don’t even have to manage this alone; there are services that can help you manage your online incentives.
PunchTab, for example, is a service you can implement on your website and encourage your online audience to build loyalty points for things such as liking a Facebook page or commenting on a blog post. These points can then be cashed in for fabulous prizes set by the businesses (think an Amazon or iTunes gift card, or some of the businesses’ own merchandise). PunchTab can also power giveaways, measuring all of the backend analytics for valuable customer/user data capture.
If you just randomly @reply strangers when they talk about your category, why shouldn't they just ignore you? Why shouldn't they look at you as a nosey unwanted salesperson?
You need to be tweeting an offer.
If you're a hotel and you're tweeting at strangers who talk about your destination, tweet about a page on your hotel's site with discounts from local business partners—then they have a reason to care about you.
Use Foursquare to encourage repeat visitors, advises a blog post at Cecily.info. For example, the “Mayor” of your business gets extra time with customer service or the support department.
While you might be tempted to sell, sell and sell online, it’s better to engage your customers and give them an incentive for engaging back with you—online. If airlines can dispense frequent flyer miles to encourage repeat visitors, you can surely think of ways to encourage activity and engagement online.