opinion

How to Leverage Social Media to Increase Retail Foot Traffic, Sales

How to Leverage Social Media to Increase Retail Foot Traffic, Sales

These days it can feel like everybody is interacting on a screen of some kind, with less IRL engagement than ever. This can be especially frustrating for brick-and-mortar business owners, because while social media followers are great, you need in-person foot traffic to keep your business going. That’s why today we’re going to talk about how to leverage your social media accounts to get people excited about your business, coax them out from behind their screens, and get them into your stores ready to spend!

Your Social Media Presence

Give discounts that are valid in-store only and for a limited time, to create a sense of urgency and drive that foot traffic.

Using social media effectively is one of the biggest challenges for adult businesses — especially for promoting specific products for sale. Not only are these kinds of posts at greatest risk of being flagged or reported, putting your account at risk, but they’re also some of the least engaging. Simply showing off a product and reviewing its features and benefits isn’t enough to attract followers and keep them following, and it’s not great for making the algorithms work to your advantage either.

When building a social media presence, the No. 1 focus should be creating content that hooks viewers and keeps their eyes on your content. This is certainly easier said than done, but there are specific strategies to start you off right:

• Start conversations: Post content that gets people talking. Ask your audience questions — “yes or no” questions make it easy for everyone — or invite them to share their personal experiences. It’s about creating dialogue rather than a monologue.

• Educate: Accurate, accessible, digestible educational content gets tons of views and shares. It is not only a great way to build your following, but it also allows you to provide a valuable service to your followers. Everybody wins! Keep in mind that less is more, and the most shareable educational videos tend to be less than 60 seconds and focus on one specific fact or “Did you know?” topic. Anything that requires more time or information than that can be made into a multi-video series, which keeps viewers engaged and watching your content for longer.

• Interact with other accounts: This point is less about the things you post and more about how you function in the social media space and engage with others’ posts. Don’t be afraid to participate in comment discussions happening on collaborators’ accounts. Leaving supportive comments on others’ posts tells the algorithm that you’re active, and gets creators to notice you. This also can help you gain new followers as users scroll through your collaborators' comment sections and see your profile. Algorithms also encourage you to engage with your own commenters and respond to what they share or ask — though feel free to block the trolls, of course.

All of these strategies come together to help build a digital community around your brand. Over time, people become excited to be part of your following and to interact with you and with one another. They like and share your posts more often — which means that when you eventually post about new products or make store announcements, those posts will show up at the top of your followers’ feeds.

Keep It Real

With social media spaces absolutely teeming with “influencers” presenting super-polished, edited, idealized versions of themselves, it can feel like you need to set up a production studio just to create compelling content. Don’t fall into this trap. Sure, you might want to post some super-snazzy content occasionally, but remember that not everything you post needs to be "produced."

Some of the most engaging content feels authentic, raw and relatable to the consumer. “Get ready/unready with me” videos are some of the most watched on TikTok for a reason. Do you have a “story time” about something that happened in the store yesterday? Tell it while setting up a display or taking a break with a coffee. Give them a peek behind the curtain. Did a huge shipment just come in? Show them your stacks of boxes and tease the goodies inside, or maybe crack a joke about how glamorous the sex toy business is. There is endless potential in the simplest of posts.

The benefit of this style of posting is that it makes your followers feel like they know your business well. This will make them more likely to swing by to see what was in that fun stack of boxes.

Team Up

Creating content that draws your followers to your doorstep isn’t something you have to do all by yourself. Your distributors and the manufacturers whose products you sell can be a huge help. Ask them about the digital assets they have available for use on social media and work with them to collaborate on video content and cross-promote your accounts.

I also recommend exploring cross-promotional opportunities with complementary local businesses and micro-influencers. Consider collaborating on joint giveaways, co-hosting events or simply featuring each other on your respective accounts. These steps can expose you both to a whole new audience. Influencers don’t necessarily need a 10,000-plus following to be effective; the creators you want to work with are those whose following is active, watches their content in full, participates in the comments section and responds to calls to action. When searching for influencers, ask for their social media analytics to see just how influential they really are.

Entice Them

Entice your followers to come in to shop with exclusive offers and promotions. Give discounts that are valid in-store only and for a limited time, to create a sense of urgency and drive that foot traffic!

Turning Followers Into Shoppers

Anyone can have a social media account, but having a thriving social media following that translates into foot traffic and sales conversions takes work. However, as highlighted above, there are steps you can take that will not only grow your online presence, but will create engaged, excited customers as well. For brick-and-mortar retailers, it can initially feel daunting trying to translate online interactions into IRL business, but with a little time and effort, you will see the benefits in both your online following and your bottom line.

Eric Lee is the COO of Blush, a global manufacturer of pleasure products.

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