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Five Effective Ways to Utilize Digital Media for Customer Engagement

Digital Media: Make it Work for YOU

Let’s be honest: digital media is seductive. It slyly promises to make marketing easy—frictionless, even. You already own all the equipment you need. Your customers are addicted to it. You can’t lose!

But every deal with the devil begins with a bargain that’s too good to be true.

The truth is that digital media might be easy to learn, but it’s hard to master. Many businesses flounder around various apps, randomly uploading content without any strategy. And all promised rewards (engagement, enthusiasm, interest) fail to materialize.

If you want to make the most of today’s most powerful marketing tools, don’t fall for the sweet nothings that Facebook and TikTok whisper in your ear. They are goliaths masquerading as coquettes. If you want to play the game, you need to be crafty. Here are five ways to get more from your socials.

Become 100% That Niche

Too many business owners dive face-first into digital media without first checking the waters. As a business owner, your goal should be to join a community that already exists, not simply pump out content and blast it into the void.

So, before you post, it’s important to spend time observing the space. Watch how your target customers interact with other accounts. Note who they follow. Maybe the local library’s Instagram is popular. It could be that everyone keeps tabs on the roaming Vietnamese food truck. Pay close attention. Note which local accounts (business and personal) have large followings. Observe the language they use, the accounts they interact with, the way they post. Only once you have a sufficient understanding of your local discourse community is it smart to get involved.

Post Product Reviews

This is one of those tips that’s almost more of a necessity. In this space, there is simply too much stuff for consumers to keep up with. New products come out every month. But your customers don’t want to hear what was in your latest order. They want the inside track, expert advice.

If you’ve got something new and cool, film an unboxing video. Discuss what the product does well, what kind of quality a consumer can expect from the brand and, crucially, talk about its drawbacks. Honesty is invaluable in fostering customer trust, and showcasing this through product reviews can be very effective.

If you’re a little down on a product, bring in an employee or two to toss in their two cents. The idea is to foster a dialogue, let the customer know what’s available, provide them with the vocabulary to discuss products, and let them know you’re a trusted source for questions.

Collaborate with Influencers

If you’re on social media, it pays to be social. So consider partnering with a few local influencers, especially if your target demographic is highly online.

The best way to build partnerships with local influencers is to let them come to you. If you have good foot traffic, put up a sign in your store that invites customers to apply to a brand ambassador program. And choose your partners with care. Look through their digital feed to see if they’re a good fit for your vibe and your customers. You’ll want to check their follower count, who they interact with, and how their online personality meshes with the vibes and your customers. You’ll want to check their follower count, who they interact with, and how their online personality meshes with the vibes of your operation. If everything is a match, go into business together.

The rewards for collaboration don’t have to be big. You can send them a sample—a new vape pen, a piece of glass—and ask them to post about it two or three times over the course of a month. Sunglasses brand Hawkers created a Campus Ambassador program that provided free concert tickets and products to college students with large social media followings in exchange for posts. These collaborations can add a personal dimension to your digital presence as influencers share genuine stories and experiences with your products with their followers.


Embrace Emerging Trends

While it’s not worthwhile to hop on every TikTok trend, every year provides a half dozen memes that can be easily turned into value-added exercises for small businesses.

For example, from late 2023 through early 2024, the #ofcourse Trend flooded feeds. Hash-tagged videos with titles like “We’re plumbers,” “We’re Midwesterners,” and “I’m Kristen Chenoweth” allowed users to gently poke fun at themselves while ratcheting up views. The idea was to be self-deprecating, cheesy, and relatable—a perfect combination for a local business. Picture it now: “We’re a head shop, so of course we have a massive bong in the middle of our store.”

Do Some Q&A Sessions

Here’s an easy one. Question-and-answer content does especially well on social media.

A one question, one answer video is perfectly tailored to social media users’ short attention spans. Best of all, you’re already practiced in the form. You know the annoying questions you get asked every day? They’re ripe for digital content. If you notice an uptick of customers asking about a new cannabinoid or hip brand, film a quick Q&A video and upload the short to your social media. If you can keep it brief, you’ll attract eyeballs.

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