Offline Techniques to Grow Your Online Presence

Last week, I wrote a post, inspired by a question from Kristi Fuoco:

I was just wondering if you’d ever thought of writing a blog post about promoting social media through print and other methods. Do you think it’s effective, worth it? I’ve just been noticing more and more businesses lately that have been advertising their twitter, facebook etc. on posters, business cards, flyers and have been wondering whether or not to do it and thought you might have some thoughts on this.

Today, I’m offering some specific tips on how to promote your social media presence, offline.

1. Before you start to promote offline, make sure your on-line is solid. That means having a good website or blog (you need to pick something to be the centre of operations, the place that you want your other “arms” to lead back to), a Facebook fan page, a Twitter account, and whatever else works for you: LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, etc.. Make sure you are updating all of these on a fairly regular basis, and they are all linked to each other.

2. If you have a physical business, make a sign and put it where folks can see it: in the window, by the cash register, etc. Instead of just saying “Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!” and listing your usernames for those, sweeten the pot: that means offering special “Facebook exclusive” or “Twitter exclusive” discounts or specials. Remember, these specials can act like a coupon code, so they are trackable, which is useful to you.

3. If you have an online business, make sure you have a business card, or some kind of leave behind with your social media information on it. You may want to use a tool like Telnic, which creates a single, simple URL (ie:, which people can go to and find all of your links from there. A couple of other options are, (thanks @shamelesshussy for that one). Again, sweeten the pot by offering exclusive information via these channels.

4. Host a meetup or a tweetup: A tweetup is an off-line, in-person meeting of folks who met through Twitter. Usually, they are tied together by some theme or common interest. For example, here in Vancouver, we have a Vancouver Theatre Tweetup (#yvrttu), and there are a million more. Say for example, you are the owner of a specialty wine shop. You could search for wine tweetups in your city, offer to host one, and maybe even offer some tastings. Go to to see what kind of meetups and tweetups are happening in your city. Niche marketing at its very best!

5. Foursquare promotions: Foursquare is a game/social media interface. Essentially, you sign up for an account, and then every time you go somewhere, a restaurant, school, the library, the gym, you use your phone to “check in.” If you have it connected to your Twitter and Facebook accounts, Foursquare posts to Facebook and Twitter automatically where you are. If you visit one place more than anyone else in that month, you get to be the “mayor” of that place, or you unlock badges for trying new things. One way to use Foursquare for business is to offer discounts and deals to Foursquare users: you will, in essence, be rewarding your best customers. For example, something free each month to the “mayor” of your business, or a discount for every 10 checkins. For more information on how to use Foursquare for business, click here.

6. Tweetup + Foursquare = Swarm: If 50 people on Foursquare check in all at the same place, that’s called a swarm. It comes with its own badges, and the possibilities of using this for theatre, concerts, or other larger-venue events is very interesting.

7. Create a flashmob: Flashmobs may be one of the coolest things to emerge from social media. According to Wikipedia, the definition of a flashmob is:  a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse. Originally, they were created just to bring some fun and surprise into the everyday lives of passers-by, but they have grown into an interesting marketing tool.  This past March 27, World Theatre Day, we created a Footloose Flashmob, which took place in Waterfront Station, a busy bus/train/seabus station in downtown Vancouver. It was both to promote World Theatre Day, and production of Footloose that was currently running. I have heard of folks doing scenes from Shakespeare on public transit, dances, pillow fights, and on and on and on. I’ll leave you with this one from Steppenwolf in Chicago:

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

Comments 14

  1. Oh, yeah, I get your point. Wikipedia says “The term is generally not applied to events organized by public relations firms, protests, and publicity stunts.” I guess my Footloose Flashmob and this one would both fit into the category of publicity stunts.
    I don’t know–Facebook wasn’t originally meant for business, and lots of people use it for that, now. There will always be people that take creative ideas and adapt them for business. Is that smart business? Or will people just see right through it and dismiss it as another way to try to get us to hand over our hard-earned cash?

  2. I think the danger lies in the intent and how it’s used.

    Facebook can be great for staying connected but it can also be a dank swamppit of spam. If the impuse is “I need to promote something lets do a flashmob” it’s hard to believe folks do not to see through that.

  3. Totally. I think the gray area clears up depending on which direction the question goes. “Will it add value to other people” vs. “Will it get me money”. If the intent is selfish, the gesture tends to fail.

  4. Hey Rebecca,

    Sorry I’m just reading this now…I’ve been off sick. Thanks for this great post and those tips are fantastic. The flash mob question is interesting, I ‘ll have to think about that more. I can sort of see it from both sides, but I do have to say that I enjoy them 🙂 Are they a publicity grab? Sure, but so are lots of other things that we are used to…this is just the latest one. Anyways, thanks so much for doing all this research and answering my questions! 🙂

  5. @ John;
    There have been a couple of #YVRTTU (Vancouver theatre tweetups) that have happened over the last couple of months, but I wasn’t able to make them. We should do it! We just need a space…
    @ Kristi: I love it when people ask questions. I am always looking for inspiration for posts. Yep, flashmobs are definitely a publicity grab. I think if we were just doing them for the fun of doing them, we wouldn’t be videotaping them and uploading them to YOuTUbe so we can get maximum leverage. I think they’re kind of cool.

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