Like any form of mass media, social media is, quite literally, all around us. There’s the television commercial that concludes with a call to action and a hash tag. Or the billboard you pass during your morning commute reminding you to watch your favorite TV show that night – and tweet about it throughout.

In the spirit of this social surround sound, truly innovative brands are using social and digital media platforms and strategies to bridge the gap between what consumers see online and what compels them to purchase. Here are five things you need to know about socializing the point of purchase.


Tesco brings a virtual grocery store to Korean subway riders via augmented reality and quick-response code technologies. Shoppers click and purchase during the morning commute and receive deliveries of their items after the evening commute.

Utilize innovative social platforms to grow brand affinity at the register.

Loyalty makes more sense and cents when the connection is made at the register. Because social platforms are inherently mobile, brands can use creative engagement tactics to build loyalty on the go. The point of differentiation here is actively moving consumers along the purchasing funnel via more traditional platform publishing (Facebook, Twitter), as well as gamified and incentivized engagement in the form of small, intermittent prizes. One brand that creatively leverages a mobile social platform to engage and reward consumers is 16 Handles. In order to connect with its target of urban millennials, a group that also happens to make up the prime Snapchat user base, 16 Handles asked customers to snap and share a pic of themselves tasting a flavor at one of its locations in exchange for an instant coupon redeemable for 16 to 100 percent off their purchase. Executing on a smart phone app ensures the reward can be both earned and redeemed within moments of the initial brand-to-consumer interaction.

Socialize brand point of sale and the consumer shopping experience.

If your brand doesn’t have the budget or bandwidth to build or leverage mobile applications, start with socializing the investment you’re already making at point of sale. Securing shopper attention at shelf has become more competitive and space allocations smaller than ever. To combat this, create opportunities for prospective shoppers to engage with your brand. QR technology has been lauded and criticized in almost equal measure, but the general consensus is that it only works if the digital pathway delivers a deep discount or exclusive incentive the consumer would otherwise never find. It can’t just be about ‘clicking to learn more about the product.’ But utilizing QR to convert someone from prospective to actual consumer is possible if the technology is well developed and features something truly groundbreaking. Tesco took a more inverted approach to this process with its virtual subway store in South Korea. Tapping into the consumer insight that their customers didn’t have time to make it to their retail stores, the grocery chain brought the store to its customers via an augmented reality & QR-enabled virtual store on the subway. Users clicked to purchase items, which were delivered upon their return home from work that very day.

Locate and incentivize consumer purchasing with

As GPS technology continues to advance at a rapid rate, new tactics are emerging to help brands take advantage of a prospective consumer’s proximity to a retail location (or pop-up store). Geo-fencing is one such tactic (think an invisible fence that knows when you’re near a particular location), and Walgreens is one such brand. The drug store chain has added an element of geo-fencing to its smartphone app, which senses when a user has entered a Walgreens store. Once that user is inside, the app’s integrated geo-fence sends a push notification reminding him or her to refill or pick up a prescription. The marketing potential here is almost limitless. If you have a physical location, use geo-fencing to draw in your current and prospective consumers. And if you’re a brand without a physical shop that is hosting a pop-up BBQ on Memorial Day, use geo-fencing to invite social influencers that are nearby.

Create or leverage mobile applications that inspire retail engagement.

There’s nothing inherently easy about creating a smartphone app and ensuring it finds an audience. You need a robust paid media plan to ensure that target influencers find – and share – your app. But smaller brands can learn from mega brands by following their successes and avoiding their mistakes. Target, for example, has found great success through its Cartwheel app, which delivers a myriad of offers (from five to 50 percent) that can only be redeemed in store. Other brands, such as CVS, have created similar apps to incentivize purchasing, but not every brand can afford to create mobile experiences that are this robust. Any brand can get in on the game in smaller ways, though. First, piggyback off existing apps like this one. If you sell your product at Target, work to make it a featured offer – and then support the partnership via your own social publishing. There are other apps, such as Metaio, that leverage augmented reality technologies to create unique brand experiences, both in and out of retail locations. Working with a third party vendor in this ‘white label’ capacity often keeps budgets down while ensuring an ownable experience for smartphone users.

Recognize, reward and reinforce loyal behavior.

It was only a few years ago when Foursquare and the now-shuttered Gowalla were competing for the geo-social throne with different takes on what a social badge should be. Fast forward a few years, and there is still badge value in being the “mayor” of your gym or office building. But the idea of social badging isn’t exclusive to brands with brick and mortar locations. Highly regulated industries, such as wine/spirits and consumer healthcare, which have limited sampling opportunities, have adopted new ways to recognize, reward and reinforce loyal behavior via social listening. One evolved method of badging across all social media platforms exists in the #hashtag, which is no longer just a tool for organizing conversations. Hashtags extend a brand’s social reach through friends of fans. A recent Nielsen/Kellogg’s study found that utilizing Promoted Tweets (one of Twitter’s ad offerings) can lead to significantly greater purchase intent. It’s a less overt but more qualitative social badge that can be tracked and duplicated without social network barriers.

has a wealth of
experience in creating and executing customized social and digital media programs—from Twitter parties and Facebook contests, to webcasts and mobile app development. Our knowledge of social and digital media is both wide and deep—every account staff member at Hunter PR serves on one of our agency’s 10 task forces, each dedicated to a particular facet of social and digital media:
• Blogs
• Community Managers
• Emerging Technologies
• Geo-Social
• Microblogs

• Mobile
• Monitoring & Measurement
• Online Video
• Social Networks

Contact our Social and Digital Media Practice leader, Donetta Allen, at