How to Use Social Media Influencers to Affect Real World Purchasing Decisions

By Shiv Singh, Stephanie Diamond

The concept of social media influencers ties into having influence in the offline space. The online world is not separate from how influence works in the real world. Here are some recommendations for how you can tap into social influencers to affect physical-world purchasing decisions.

Putting your customer reviews in your stores

If you sell products in stores, consider putting the customer reviews that have been created by customers on your website next to the actual products in the physical stores. If there isn’t space to place customer reviews, at least include the customer ratings.

Along with the customer reviews, consider adding expert reviews and ratings. Reviews and ratings do a lot to give your customers confidence about the purchasing decision and also help them choose between products.

Marrying social media marketing with events and PR

Here’s a tip about social media marketing that’s worth paying a lot of attention to: Marketers who tie together social media marketing initiatives with traditional events and surround them with PR tactics invariably have immense success.

When you’re trying to tap into social influencers, consider organizing an event that your customers can bring their social influencers to. Promote the event heavily on the social platforms, and use your presence on those platforms as a way to manage invitation lists and reminders and to post event communications.

For example, send out invitations through Facebook, and encourage your potential customers to RSVP through Facebook itself. You can also create a special hash tag (#) for your event so that when you’re tweeting about your event, others will see it. It helps generate buzz for your company and encourages people to attend future events.

In addition, you can hold a Google Hangout which is a live meeting on Google, before the event to create excitement and momentum. Another possibility is to hold a live Twitter Chat.

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Measuring online buzz and offline influence

There’s a very direct relationship between online buzz and offline influence. What is talked about on the social platforms often gets translated to real-world conversations when people interact with each other at work, in the shopping malls, and at home.

Consider tracking how your social media marketing activities translate into offline influence. How? By using surveys to track conversations about your brand before, during, and after a social media marketing campaign. If you’re a large brand, you may want to use a market research firm to help you understand the ongoing buzz about your brand in the physical world.

Connecting influencers at meet-ups

You should marry events with social media marketing so that your potential customers expose their influencers to your brand, too. You may want to run specific programs just for the influencers who play a significant role in impacting brand and purchasing decisions in your category. Whether they be expert, referent, or positional influencers, you may want to consider organizing programs that address them directly.

Some of these can be real-world events, too. Insurance companies put a lot of effort into developing relationships with parents of new drivers because they know they heavily impact the first car purchase. And because parents are always concerned about the well-being of their children, they’re more likely to push for better auto insurance.

Two services that you can use to create those events are Meetup, Yelp, and House Party, which enable companies to connect with local communities around their products or categories.

Treating your stores as cyber cafés

In an effort to compete with online behemoth Amazon.com, bookstores such as Barnes & Noble have blurred the lines between their physical stores and their online storefront. You can buy books online and return them in the store.

You can get notifications about in-store events in your neighborhood through email, and customers can look up books online while they’re in the stores. They also organize readings and book clubs and encourage customers to bring their friends to them and promote the events online, too. Online or offline, these bookstores don’t care: They encourage deeper interaction and encourage customers to bring their social influencers with them at every stage.

Putting Twitter on the big screen

Twitter is the second most visited online social media site behind Facebook. The follow-follower dynamic and the 140-character limit lend themselves to frequent, short bursts of communication. Consider promoting your Twitter account in your physical stores

Or better still, have you considered having a live Twitter stream on a screen in each of your stores to show customers how you’re answering the queries of others, responding to problems, promoting specific products, and deepening relationships with your community? Call it the Twitter influence, but the way in which you’re interacting with your other customers on the social platforms can strongly influence a customer to purchase from you as well. Don’t miss that opportunity.

One great tool that you can use to accomplish an impressive display of posts is Tintup. You choose what to display — for example brand posts or a specific hashtag and let it run. This tool is great for events to encourage attendees to spread the word.