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Streets-to-Social Marketing in 2016

Posted on 8.23.2016

:: By Amberly Dressler, Managing Editor::

It can be difficult to convince people to do anything let alone to compel storefront visitors, commuters or passersby to leave one channel (in this case the real world) and go to another (e.g., a website, digital survey, social media page, etc.) but brands have some help in the form of an always-on device. 

The unparalleled rise in mobile usage has made streets-to-social marketing much easier as people typically have their smartphones on hand and their social media accounts logged into. Let's explore how to capture current or potential customers' attention enough to compel them to visit, follow or otherwise engage with a brand's social pages.

Interactive Experiences

Whether it's a photo booth in a salon that shares patrons' images to its social media pages (like at drybar Las Vegas) or a retailer with a dressing room that helps shoppers get feedback from their friends on social (like at Rebecca Minkoff, pictured, which runs it's e-commerce site on Magento), brands that provide a way for customers to instantly share their experiences online are succeeding at streets-to-social marketing. Yes, investments will need to be made (e.g., photo booth, futuristic dressing rooms, etc.), but the investment stands to prove its return with the user generated content (UGC) reaching audiences a brand may not have been able to reach on its own as well as higher engagement and loyalty from the original poster themselves.  

Branded Hashtags

Most customers are happy to share their experiences with a brand or follow them on social media, but a company has to do its part by letting them know which are the appropriate hashtags to use. For instance, it's not uncommon for conference-goers to use a variety of hashtags when posting about an event if the conference doesn't widely promote the appropriate one. The same is true of local merchants who should consider branding all their material with a branded hashtag (e.g., bags, tags, receipts, window clings, etc.), so their customers can easily move from streets to social without any fear of tagging a wrong hashtag. Alex&Ani, for instance, uses #charmedarms and promotes it often so that its patrons know how to add their photos to the social stream. 


Perhaps one of the oldest ways to get customers onto social media pages is by having them "check in" to a location with their social media accounts, but the action shows no sign of slowing down as more and more people use their smartphones every hour of every day. Local merchants can encourage people to check in by including an in-store sign. If the prompt doesn't work as well as the company wishes, they can always add an incentive to encourage more check-ins like, "free x upgrade when you check in on social." The patron can simply show the cashier their social post for confirmation. 

Companies themselves will need to have location information available and accurate so that customers check in to the right place - avoiding any SEO risks of people or platforms creating duplicate pages

Loyalty Programs

Check-ins and user generated content is great, but local brands may want to consider automating how that information is used to improve lifetime loyalty, acquisition and retention. Merchants using Belly, for instance, benefit from the loyalty program working behind the scenes. As customers check in with Belly, their activity is automatically posted to Facebook and Twitter, making them brand advocates while they earn rewards. 


People love free stuff and will sometimes do just about anything to win a prize. Smart brands capitalize on this and lure customers to post on social for the chance to get something in return. Discount grocery chain Aldi, for instance, hosted a "Baby Shower" suite at the Blogher 2016 conference in Los Angeles. They rented a couple hotel rooms and transformed them into a baby shower complete with a candy bar, mimosas, games and giveaways. Along with being "cute," the baby shower suite introduced influencers (bloggers, media, brands) to its new baby care line. By posting an image of the suite and using the right hashtag, conference goers were entered in a chance to win free diapers for a year. It was a pretty genious strategy all around considering those posting on the company's behalf are influential on social media and typically have a female following (the new product line's main demographic). 

Moving from Streets to Social

Whether it's a merchant with a local storefront or a company hosting or attending an event, enterprises need to continuously brainstorm about how to move people from the real world to the digital world before, during and after sales.

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