Connecting Social Media to Offline Marketing

By Laura Lorber

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

We've settled into a social media rhythm for Big Papa's BBQ in Denver for our Social Media Challenge -- the live test case we're using to illustrate the power of social media to drive conversation, influence and sales. As we increase the online activity, we also want to use their restaurants and employees to help us get the word out. After all, their restaurants are their most important venue and their employees are their most vocal evangelists.

As a brick-and-mortar establishment, the company has every digital marketer's dream: direct contact with people who love what the brand offers, want to be in its social circle online, and will more than likely tell friends about the place if given something worthwhile to share.

Here's how we're leveraging what Big Papa's BBQ already has in front of them.

1. Put the online destination in print. Facebook has become the hub of communication online for Big Papa's BBQ. Through posters, in-store coupons and take-one cards that sit next to the register, we're driving everyone to this home base. We're also encouraging Big Papa's to print this destination on its menu, take-out menu, coasters, magnets, business cards, register toppers and other marketing pieces. We're telling people how we'll reward them for hitting the "Like" button on our Facebook page by whetting their appetite with our four campaign promotions.

2. Trade information. Each customer is given a simple card to fill out to opt in to our email communications on the spot while they're visiting. Because they're in the moment of enjoying some great food and the promotions are enticing, most have been more than happy to give us their info.

3. Enlist the employees. When the check is dropped off or when people get up to leave the restaurant, Big Papa's employees are asking them to go to our Facebook page to let us know what they thought of the food and to get in on our promotions.

4. Cross-promote between platforms. Because of the varied ways in which people communicate, everyone has their own preferred tool for interacting with others online. We're heavy on Facebook, but we're also using Twitter and email to communicate with people. On each venue, we're cross-promoting the others. That way, people can follow us the way they most prefer.

If you don't invite your current customers to join your circle online, they may never do it on their own. Be sure you're tapping into that significant, loyal audience, moving them from your store to your home online.

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