Offline Strategies for Your Online PropertiesEarlier this week I did a little exercise with my undergrad students. First, I gave them a stack of magazines and newspapers and asked them to go through ads to look for how businesses were promoting their online and social presence. I told them to look for what businesses were promoting, and how they were promoting it.

In other words, did they have any calls to action regarding,

“Find us on Facebook”

or links and references to website, Twitter, Pinterest, and the like. Not surprisingly the students didn’t find a lot of this, but they did find some.

The next step of the exercise was to actually check the online properties of those businesses. If they’re promoting their social presence, how well are they using it? They found several great examples. Kohl’s for instance, not only does a great job promoting their online properties, but they are using their properties well. Both their Facebook and Twitter accounts are pretty incredible in terms of marketing and customer service. CVS also has a strong social presence and an app that they promote offline.

Not surprisingly, there were also quite a few companies that were promoting an online presence that didn’t really exist. One local furniture company had a rather small newspaper ad dominated by a big Facebook logo. Sadly, their Facebook page had no updates, and hadn’t been touched since July. All they ever seemed to do was change their cover photo, but never add any other types of content. And then there’s the little gem up there in the picture…

Then we did one final exercise. Since it was nice weather I took the class outside and we took a field trip around town. We walked past a variety of businesses to see if they were doing any on-site promotion of their online presence. We found very little: a few Yelp and Foursquare stickers in windows, a QR code or two, but that was it. I know a lot of these businesses. I know they are doing a good job online. But do their customers know?

We’re really missing out on some great opportunities, especially for local, small businesses and non-profits.

There are two lessons here:

1. If you have a social presence, don’t just promote it online. Promote it offline as well. I’m sure there were plenty of businesses that have a strong online presence, but unless they tell us about it, we’ll never know.

2. If you have a social presence but aren’t using it, don’t waste your time telling us about it. We don’t want to go to a Facebook page or Twitter account that offers nothing.

It’s that simple.

Use it, and promote it.

How are you doing?