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There are many a blog post out there giving incentives and ideas on how to bring your Online Customers into the offline world of reality and revenue, but how does it work the other way around? How do you bring your offline community online, and ensure their engagement is ongoing?

Here are our top ten tips on how to do exactly that:

social seo

#1 Ask Customers Where They Found You.

This should be a staple question in most sales processes or any sort of market research, but make sure that questions are formed in a way to give you satisfactory results. Follow up your question, so if a customer answers ‘Google’, ask them specifically what they searched for. Or if it was via Twitter, was it from search, or a recommendation? Understanding how people found you in the first place gives you a clear direction in which to focus your on-going marketing efforts.

#2 Combine ‘Social’ Information with Contact Information

When asking for contact information, have you ever thought of asking for a twitter handle along with an email address? Or if they have business page on Facebook with their telephone number? Most people wouldn’t think twice about cross-engagement, and are happy to give out this information as long as its relevant for them to do so, and they are looking to make a gain from it in the long run. Unless you ask, you are never going to know!

#3 Use Location Based Services/Check-ins

If possible, encourage users to ‘check in’ and use location based services such as ‘Gowalla’ and ‘Foursquare’ offering incentives in the long term to do so. For example, if you check into a place on Foursquare often enough you become the ‘Mayor’, offer a prize of some sort for the first person to reach that milestone – a discount on a product, a free starter or desert. Give people a reason to keep coming back (other than the reason of your exceptional product and service of course!)

Don’t forget to display check in details in your store/office so people know to do so.

#4 Referral Schemes

Everyone loves a freebie, so offering out free gifts or services to encourage engagement is a great way of getting yourself known online. Offer deals when you get to X number of followers/likes, give discounts for recommendations on Google+ Local/Yelp, enter users into a draw for every retweet/best use of a hashtag. You can be as creative as you like and use whichever method fits your service/product best, with minimal overall cost and maximum reach.

#5 Email

Remember to include links to your social networks on the bottom of your emails or any email marketing campaign. Chances are, if your customers have an email address they will be on at least one social network. Add in “Find us on Facebook!” type directives with hyperlinks to encourage users to explore your brand via other mediums.

#6 Cross Platform Engagement.

Always remind (and link!) your existing fans that you are available on other social networking sites. Post video content and link back to YouTube, let followers know your username on Instagram or Viddy, encourage Twitter users to visit Facebook and vice-versa. Some users might be more active on other social networks, and not be aware that you’re on it at all – its your job to keep them informed and up to date.

#7 Customer Support

Everyone loves good customer service, and social networks are a perfect platform for it. be wary if you are a small business or you find yourself managing your social media accounts on top of everything else day to day that you don’t neglect customers. Have a “we’re here 9-5/X-X” time slot (even the big companies such as the phone network providers do this) and reply and deal promptly with any enquiries.

The key to success in customer social support is prompt and reliable responses. Don’t leave customers hanging for days (or even hours in some cases) as it will only serve to have the opposite effect you desired and give your reputation on and offline a hefty knock.

#8 Exclusive Content.

When encouraging your customers to take the move to online engagement, give them a reason to take the first step. Offer a coupon to new ‘likes’, or exclusive ‘top tips’ to those on twitter or to those that have signed up for your blog/newsletter.

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