In the lifespan of technology, both digital signs and social media can be considered infants. As these young technologies grow up together, they have the potential to create tremendous opportunities for businesses to engage customers and prospects.
Digital signage, for all its strengths, will never be able to deliver large volumes of detailed content to customers. In fact, we spend a lot of time coaching users to limit their words and images in order to achieve the greatest impact.
At the same time, consumers are doing a tremendous amount of research online before they ever contact a company. This is why social media is so widely adopted by small businesses. According to a February 2011 Merchant Confidence Index survey of more than 8,500 small and local businesses in the United States, 70 percent are using Facebook for marketing. The study also found that Facebook surpasses Google as the most widely used marketing method among local merchants.
It makes sense that social media should be incorporated into electronic message centers as a means for consumers to get more detailed information about a business either on their home computer, or increasingly, via their smart phone.
Some good practices include:
1. Broadening your customer base. Build Facebook fans and Twitter followers by including these social network icons and addresses on digital signage messages. By building a follower base, businesses can begin to establish relationships with customers, build engagement and loyalty, and market to them inexpensively. A local grocery store in Minnesota showcases its Facebook and Twitter accounts regularly on its electronic message center. The retailer has grown its number of social media followers and uses Facebook and Twitter to keep customers informed about book signings, sales and other events.
2. Pointing consumers to additional information located on social media networks. While digital signs are limited in terms of content, social networks can link to photos, product spec sheets, sales flyers, coupons and other marketing information.
3. Playing up your strengths by using the appropriate social media channel. If your business is visual, such as a car dealership, furniture store or catering company, post photos to Pinterest and show the Pinterest logo on your sign. If you have frequent sales, encourage customers to follow your updates on Twitter. Use Facebook to create conversations with customers and build your brand. A Honda dealership in Ohio uses Pinterest to post photos of cars and recent ads, and shares news and deal information on Twitter and Facebook.
It doesn't take long to establish your company on these social networks. The effort will be worthwhile, resulting in more engaged customers, a larger marketing reach and the ability to share more information via your electronic message center.
Pearman is a U.S. sales manager for LED sign and digital billboard manufacturer Watchfire.