By Paul Flanigan
Digital media evangelist, with a background in marketing and branding across several disciplines. Follow Paul at www.experiate.net.
The genesis of social media was largely based on the internet, but multi-platform and open-source activity have pushed social media into mainstream channels, such as broadcast television, mobile and digital signage. It has become the binding tissue across multiple channels and encourages engagement among thousands of companies and millions of people, becoming a very valuable channel of communication.
It's not just relevant but crucial that digital signage embrace the tools used by millions of people everyday to communicate and share: Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and dozens of other platforms.
Here are five ways to implement social media into your digital signage to benefit your company.
1. Know Thy Customer
The fact that Gowalla exists is not reason enough to use it. You need to do your homework. Do your customers use it? Do your competitors use it? What about Facebook or Twitter? What about Google+? It should go without saying, but the more you know about your customers, the more relevant your social media will be for them.
2. Get It On The Screen
The brand strength of platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare are recognizable. If a consumer sees those platforms in your venue, it's a signal that the consumer can interact with you through those platforms.
3. Location, Location, Location
It's great if you have social media as part of your display, not so if the screen is buried in a corner of your venue. Ensure your display is in a visually prominent location. One extra note here: Remember that if you're putting social media on a screen, you're giving people a reason to stop and read a screen. In a high-traffic area, this will disrupt the flow and ultimately backfire.
4. Start the Conversation
Put a tweet on your board that says, "Who won Wimbledon this year? Stop by the front desk. The first right answer wins a free soda!" Engage your customers. Don't wait for them to start.
5. Be Patient
This is the hard part. The Internet gives us the impression that everything happens in seconds — thousands of views, thousands of followers and massive reach. In reality, it's just not true. You have to work at it. If you're going to build engagement around social media, understand how it fits your venue, your clientele and your business.
In the end, social media will build a relationship between you and your audience. Like all good relationships, you'll get out of it what you put into it.
For more on social media in digital signage visit our Digital Signage Content research center.
(And if you would like to send in a submission for "5 Things," with five pieces of advice or best practices for digital signage deployers and end-users, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.)