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In 1999, The Matrix was a fun, novelty sci-fi film.

In 2021, it’s bordering on reality.

We might not all be wearing grungy leather capes and dodging bullets in our spare time, but we do live in an age where online and offline life are intertwined to the point where it’s difficult to separate one from the other… Because for many, social media is now our reality.

In 2011, I sat through a workshop helmed by the great Euan Semple, the man responsible for introducing one of the world’s first enterprise social networks to the BBC.

Within the first five minutes of his introductory talk, he made a very daunting prediction:

‘In five years time, any company that is not on social media will have no future ahead of it.’

This, unsurprisingly, was the day I decided to focus on a career in social media. 

True to Semple’s prediction, today we live in a world where influencers are the new celebrities, comments are the new word-of-mouth and likes and reactions are the new currency from which we measure the value of any content, product or service online. Social media is no longer a simple distraction, but an integral part of the lives of millions of potential customers for your brand. It doesn’t matter if you are selling an item of clothing or a burger, what defines the outcome is the experience the user has before they ever touch your product.

The advent of lockdown(s) then inevitably accelerated this way of life further and saw many companies migrating from physical stores to online-only businesses with varying degrees of success. Now many, if not all, social media platforms even offer facilities for businesses to sell straight from their social channels without the need to build a complicated eCommerce site.

It means those of us who work in social media marketing now have the world at our fingertips, putting us in the hands and homes of anyone we want.

But how can we make the most of our social powerhouse to ensure conversion now that we are free to roam again?

Well, anchoring a social media campaign to a real-life opportunity can definitely give it a new dimension and help maximise exposure and sales. And by combining marketing strategies, you are sure to increase customer engagement and involvement.

There are many ways to breach the barrier between online and offline activities, and here are 3 simple ones that can go a long way to combining the best of both worlds:

  • Ensure your social media handles are printed on all posters you display as well as points of sale and that social links are clearly visible and easy to find on your website.
  • Make as much use as possible of User Generated Content (UGC). Instagramable installations and events are a great way to do this, so long as they are well thought and executed. As they advertise your brand, they will also attract an audience of their own at the same time, perpetuating the cycle again and again. 
  • Social media sites are a hotspot for online community building, so make sure to interact with your audience, not only in a reactive way but also in a proactive manner. Engage with followers, other brands and even with people interacting on key subjects aligned to your brand image. And don’t be afraid to get out there, phone in hand, to show the impact your brand has in real life.

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Remember, the more a customer feels involved with your brand, the more they will spend on it and influence others to do just the same.

However, there is no one formula when it comes to social media advertisements and in the end, your creativity is the only thing that differentiates you from your competitors, so set it free (or even better, hire a team of BRILLIANT people to do it for you)!

The matrix has you, so it’s up to you to break the matrix.

Because us marketers? We choose the red pill.