Five Ways a Small Business Can Use Social Media to Drive Sales

by Mack Collier

J0177750I have a friend that runs a small retail business and a couple of months ago I gave her a copy of Think Like a Rock Star.  She loves the book and the last two times I’ve been in to see her, we’ve been discussing ways that her business could leverage social media to drive sales, and cultivate fans.  I thought these ideas could help those of you that are running your own small business, so I wanted to share them here.

1 – Start tracking which of your customers are using social media.  There’s several different ways you could do this, but the main thing is that you want to create a way to start interacting with your customers online, plus you want to be able to follow them as well.  You especially want to do this for your satisfied customers.  Whenever someone is communicating to you that they are happy with your business, that’s a great time to ask them what their Twitter handle is!  Or if they bring up social media, ask them if they are on Twitter or Facebook.

2 – Post coupon codes to each social media channel you are using.  And you want to make sure these codes are specific to each site.  For example, one code for Twitter, one code for Facebook.  This helps you track which channel works best for driving sales.  Run a separate code for each site at the same time on Monday.  Then by 5pm Friday if you had 15 redemptions of the Twitter code for the week, and 3 for the Facebook code, that’s a possible indicator that your Twitter audience is more receptive to coupon codes than your customers on Facebook are.

3 – Rethink the Punch Card.  Many small businesses offer punch cards, especially restaurants.  They give you a card, and each time you make a particular purchase, your card is punched.  After your card is ‘full’ (typically 5-10 punches), you get a free item.  For example, the Pizza Hut here has a lunch buffet punch card.  After 10 punches, you get a free lunch buffet.  But what if you gave your customers a way to earn punches besides just purchasing a meal or product?  For example, let’s say you are a hairstylist that offers customers a punch card for haircuts, and they get a punch for each haircut.  After 10 punches, they get a free punch.  What you could do is offer them an additional punch if they would take a picture of their haircut and then post it on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram!  Or maybe if they RT your tweet about this week’s promotions, that earns them a punch.  You can play around with it and figure out what works best for your business, but you may find that a picture posted on Facebook might drive in more business than you’d ‘lose’ by giving up a punch on a card.

4 – Use Twitter to do ‘real-time’ local marketing.  If you are a small business that’s active on Twitter, one of your best friends is a site called  What I love about is that it not only lets you search Twitter for specific search terms, it then lets you target those terms based on geographic location.  So if you own a pizzeria in downtown Nashville, you can set to tell you whenever anyone tweets ‘pizza’ within X kilometers of any zip code you set, down to 10 km.  So when I tweet ‘Lunch time!  Hungry for pizza, where should I go?’, you can reply and tell me about your specials you are running on pizzas for lunch, and that if I’ll tweet you the pizza I want, you’ll have it ready for me when I arrive!

5 – Reward your fans and best customers.  This ties back to the first point about tracking which of your customers are using social media.  Let’s say you have built a list of 50 of your customers that are using social media.  You can then go in and segment these users and then give them unique offers based on their activity.

For example, let’s say that 10 of those 50 customers are promoting your business on a weekly basis.  These could be your ‘fans’.  So you might want to create a special sale or event just for them.  And when they arrive, make sure you communicate to them that they were chosen because they were helping to promote you and that you wanted to thank them for being your fans!

Another idea:  Let’s go back to the hairstylist example for a minute.  Let’s say the hairstylist has found 50 customers that are active on Facebook.  Of those 50, 5 of them have over 500 friends  The next time those 5 customers come in, you make them an offer:  If they’ll let you take a Before and After picture of your hair and post the pictures on your Facebook page, you’ll give them a 20% discount off that haircut.  If they’ll then post those same pictures on their Facebook page, you’ll give them a 20% off their next haircut.

The idea with both of these tips is to reward your biggest fans, and give your most connected customers an incentive to help promote you via their social media accounts.

Bonus Idea:  I was just on the phone with the fantabulous Kelly Hungerford and she had a great idea:  Salons can offer free (or paid) photos that people can use as their avatars on social media sites!  What better time to get a new picture made when you have just had your hair done or makeup applied and you look gorgeous?  Plus you can also post those pictures on your Facebook page to show off your happy custoemrs!  If you have someone at the salon that’s a photographer, or maybe you could have a friend come in and do it part-time, whatever.

So those are a few easy ways your small business can start to immediately use social media to drive actual sales.  BTW want more ideas on how you can create more customers and convert them into fans of your business?  Then subscribe to my Think Like a Rock Star newsletter!

Penina July 21, 2013 at 11:35 am

What?? No comments on this post? Then I will just stop to say I am saving these great, practical ideas to share with current and future clients. Way to look beyond mere Likes, Mack. :-)

Mack Collier July 21, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Thank you Penina!

Kelly July 23, 2013 at 9:22 am

Mack, thank you for the shout-out and for the gold nuggets in this post!

I’m glad you liked my idea. You and your book continue to inspire me to look for ideas to connect and think outside the box. (and that’s why I have extra copies of TLARS in the office — inspiration is contagious!)

Lori Bottrell August 3, 2013 at 10:59 am

Excellent,creative ideas. Thanks!

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