Why Marketers Need to Get Offline: The Importance of Merging Online and Offline Social Interactions

by Jenna Sindle

Exclusive Q&A with Stacey Miller of Vocus.

Social media has taken over. Interacting online is now second nature, particularly to those people who happen to be marketers. With the simplicity and convenience of reaching out to your customer base online, is it really still worthwhile to foster offline interactions?

Stacey Miller, senior social media manager at Vocus, shared her thoughts on the subject:

Tell me a little about your role at Vocus.

I’m the senior social media community manager at Vocus, and am tasked with everything social on behalf of the official Vocus brands. From strategy to engagement, to traffic and leads, social media is an important part of Vocus’ marketing strategy. We share helpful, relevant and trending content to over 200,000 community members online such as webinars with industry leaders, white papers with new research and daily blogs to keep readers in-the-know. Through sharing and engagement, we’re able to get valuable insights from the industry, build relationships with influencers and get closer to our prospects and clients like never before. We also use social media to attract, as well as retain, clients through our speedy, meaningful interactions in the online sphere. I’ve been with the company almost eight years now and love it!

In today’s social media age, why is it so important to merge online and offline interactions with your key audiences?

It is imperative to merge online and offline interactions with your key audiences because online interactions are just the first step to creating meaningful relationships. Social has opened up a way for brands to get closer to customers and prospects without actually being physically close to them, but it can’t replace one-on-one interaction! Whether that takes place over the phone or in person, closing the gap between relationships forged online can ensure that your efforts aren’t wasted.

Can you elaborate on a few best practices when it comes to fostering brand loyalty and community by merging online and offline interactions?

  1. Don’t let social be “one-off” conversations. Create lists of customers or prospects and segment by industry or interest. Then, create an engagement schedule where you check up on those contacts just to say hello or comment on something they are socially sharing. Human conversations without actually being sales-y can indeed lead to new business. After connecting via social, try to meet up for coffee or lunch to help solidify the relationship.
  2. Be available, helpful and transparent. Once you’re online, people will be expecting you to respond to an inquiry 24/7. Keep social media alerts on and monitor for brand mentions on the web by using a service like Google Alerts (The Vocus Marketing Suite does both of these and more!). If you can’t respond right away, create a positive expectation by letting the person know when you will be able to respond, and if you can reach out via email or phone, do that as well. A huge part of creating brand loyalty and trust is being there to help when a customer or prospect is looking for it, and personalizing that service as needed.
  3. Create a larger sense of community by facilitating new relationships. The possibilities for contacts that you can make through social media are huge. Share the love by introducing people with common interests so that they can create their own new business relationships. Your helpfulness and community building will garner trust, loyalty and positive word of mouth.

Vocus’ annual conference, Demand Success 2014, is fast approaching. What can social media marketers expect to get out of the event this year?

We have a dedicated social media track this year at Demand Success!

Chris Brogan, the CEO of Owner Magazine and The New York Times best-selling author of “Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth,” is going to talk about how to become a marketing freak to get better ROI.

Sebastian Turner, a senior account executive at Twitter, will talk about success in 140 characters or less.

We’re also going to have a session on the content boom, and how that relates to the way we consume social media content. We’ll discuss how to overcome the overloaded content marketing space and cut through the noise. That session will feature Joe Webster, the managing director of business development at SmartBrief, Nichole Kelly, who wrote “How to Measure Social Media,” Richard Binhammer, a pioneer in corporate social media and founder of social at companies like Dell, and Christopher Penn, VP of marketing technology at SHIFT Communications.

Laura Ries, branding strategist and author, will lead the “Visualize your Stories” session, which will demonstrate how to visually tell your brand story.

Karen Wickre, the editorial director at Twitter, will be talking about Twitter’s strategy for social media success. Also, Sandy Pell from popular social media tool HootSuite is joining us to talk about cross network social marketing.

We’re expecting over 800 marketing, PR and social media professionals this year, whose jobs range from community manager, to marketing manager, to director, to VP and even CMO and CEO. Businesses of all sizes attend from small to mid-size and enterprise.

We have always heavily encouraged social sharing and networking at Demand Success, so in addition to the tracked hashtag #Demand14, Vocus social team members will be engaging with the conference attendees throughout the conference. There will also be a leaderboard displayed at the conference that will reward the social sharers with the most influence.

We’ve also invited a select group of media and bloggers in the industry, so you know that you’ll be mingling with the area’s best in social media.

Take $300 off the conference price using code “300Social”!