Over the years, social media marketing has gone from a medium accepted largely by the younger generation and marketing professionals to one as widely accepted as billboards or newspaper ads.

From small business owners to startup founders, social media has become a primary component of marketing budgets. Despite the growth though, the primary use for social media has largely been increasing brand awareness, making individuals like cafe owners, restaurant owners and local businesses unsure of its effectiveness as a means to drive sales.

But the tide is changing thanks to the rise of mobile, targeting advancements and more. If you run a business where foot traffic pays your bills, here are six social media tactics to help you boost sales:

1. Take advantage of Snap's new Footprints feature.

By using one of Snapchat's latest features, Footprints, advertisers and entrepreneurs can gain access to the consumer behavior of Snap's most active users. Through this insight, business owners can determine whether or not Snapchat Ads are a worthwhile investment.

For instance, with the analytics available in Footprints, it's clear Snapchat power users tend to frequent yoga studios, late night restaurants, and hiking spots. After discovering this, if your business falls into one of the categories then it might be time to allocate funds to Snapchat Ads to help increase foot traffic to your store.

2. Use local social media advertising.

A common complaint I hear from local business owners is a lack of relevance of where your followers are actually located. If you own a pizza shop in downtown Cleveland, having 10,000 followers from Guam or Australia won't really help boost your pizza sales.

Lucky for everyone though, the ability to geotarget on social media exists. If you haven't done so already, take advantage of geotargeting available in Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, LinkedIn Ads and more to restrict your ad to your local area.

3. Encourage your customers to publish user-generated content.

Defined, user-generated content is any form of content created by consumers or end-users of a product or service that's publicly available online. If you have seen a restaurant or brewery repost a photo taken by one of their customers on Instagram, then you've seen an example of a business leveraging user-generated content.

This style of content not only saves you from having to take photos yourself, it's also great mechanism for social proofing because it shows people having fun at your business. People trust other people more than they trust an advertisement, which is exactly why we sift through Yelp and Google reviews before we decide on a restaurant for lunch. 

To encourage your customers to post user-generated content, you'll need to create an incentive. This can be as simple as giving 20 percent off to those who post their in-store experience on Instagram and tag your company in the photo, or something else completely.

4. Use Meetup.com

To get more people in your store, consider hosting a meetup on a topic relevant to your business using Meetup.com or Eventbrite. A good example of this would be a used book store hosting a meetup for aspiring authors.

In exchange for attending the meetup, the book store could potentially give attendees 10 percent off their next purchase. By doing this, you'll be building up an authentic relationship with your customers that goes beyond merely selling them your products or services.

5. Run offers that are exclusive to Instagram Stories. 

If your business is active on Instagram, then chances are high you've seen, firsthand, the power of Instagram Stories. If you would like to capitalize on the eyeballs you're getting on your Stories, run an offer that's exclusive to Instagram. For instance, consider creating an offer where every follower who takes a screenshot of your Instagram Story can receive 15 percent off their next purchase at your store. 

6. Use Advanced Search on Twitter

With Advanced Search on Twitter, you can see what's being tweeted near you in real-time using specific keywords of your choice. Because it's local, this is a terrific way for companies to build up brand awareness and positive perception in the eyes of local customers and potential customers.

Let's say you own a small coffee shop in Portland that we'll name Lydia's Cafe. Using Advanced Search, you can comb through people in Portland who have published Tweets using the keyword "Starbucks". With each one, you could playfully respond saying, "At Lydia's Cafe, our beans are never burned. Come check us out and leave your Starbucks cups at home."

Social media isn't just useful for online businesses. If you're crafty and strategic enough, it can also bring in immense amounts of foot traffic and cash into your local business. This year, boost your sales with social media by starting with the tips discussed above. Best of luck.

Published on: Jul 27, 2018
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.