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Business + Management: Marty Mcghie

Dynamic Signage Gets Social

How your customers can connect their brands with their consumers socially.



Social media has become a regular part of the human experience. Like it or not, it impacts the way we communicate. And although some would argue that being “connected” causes those who are heavily plugged in to actually become disconnected, social media has revolutionized everything from how news breaks to how brands are built. Many agree that social media is now more important to branding than traditional advertising channels. But social media doesn’t just build brand presence from followers or likes; it can be leveraged within stores and other locations with the help of dynamic signage.

You may have seen Facebook or Twitter feeds displayed on dynamic signage screens, providing an instant stream of how people are reacting to a brand. But does this type of integration of signage and social media actually elicit a response that is favorable? Do current customers buy more of something because they see others talking about it? Most indicators show that they do, as it’s been proven many times over that people tend to want what others have. Those conversions are much higher in the 25-and-under age group that has been “raised” on social media. These new consumers may have the majority of their social experiences online now, and it’s also how they become connected to brands.

Determining the best strategy for integrating social media into dynamic signage involves careful consideration of multiple factors. The most important: what your customers want to sell and to whom. Understanding how your customers want to connect their brands with their consumers socially will allow you to customize solutions to meet their needs, which helps you win the business and prove the all-important return on investment.

Why is social important in the consumer space?
Using dynamic signage to publish social media provides interactivity between the consumer and brand. Messages may provide a call to action like, “Tweet us now!” When users engage in the activity, they can see their tweets live on the screens, making them feel like they’re part of the story. It personalizes the experience and helps them relate more to the brand.

Another way consumers can interact with dynamic signage socially is through the use of QR codes. By scanning a code, the consumer can be taken to a landing page that provides a special coupon, which can then be shared socially. When people share promotions or content in this manner, it’s called an endorsement, and it carries a great deal of weight within a social network.

This interactivity between social media and dynamic signage means that viewers experience everything in real time. Dynamic signage can be updated instantly to reflect what just happened on social media. Posts and tweets can appear immediately. Instagram images can be shown on the signage as they are posted. Pinned items on Pinterest can be instantaneously streamed. Our culture has come to expect immediate gratification from technology, and the “freshness” of social media commentary and dialogue meets this need.


Making the connection, technically speaking
So how do you go about integrating social into dynamic? Several dynamic-signage software platforms are available that include social media plug-ins. These types of solutions may not be highly customizable and may have limitations on the social media sites with which they work. As Facebook and Twitter seem to be the most popular, they are the most commonly integrated. However, studies show that Facebook, even though its worldwide user counts continue to rise, may actually have declining usage, especially for those under 30. So before you decide to use pre-packaged software, it’s important to think about what social media sites may be the most relevant to your customer’s brand and audience.

Alternatively, social media sites offer another way to pull their content into your software platform. Most sites have their own APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and plug-ins, and many have developer sites with instructions and specific help on integrating their platform into an existing software program. Social media developers are smart. They understand that users want to integrate their technology and see the advantages to doing this.

Getting ‘Pinned’ and going Vine viral
The largest social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn naturally get a lot of attention today, but like digital signage, social media is evolving very rapidly. Two newer platforms (Pinterest and Vine) offer particular advantages when used in conjunction with dynamic signage.

Pinterest sprang up initially as a way for moms to share DIY craft ideas and easy recipes. Consumer brands took notice, realizing that users (mostly women who make the decisions on many home purchases) could “pin” their items and therefore share it with their networks.

Several major retailers have been placing printed signs by items that are most pinned, which can prompt a Pinterest user to log in and check who pinned the product, how they are using it, and possibly even see reviews. So why not bring that experience to consumers while they are in the store without making them reach for their smart phones? By using dynamic signage to promote frequently pinned items, brands can bring the experience directly to the customers in their physical locations. This also allows real-time updates of how the featured items are trending on Pinterest.

Here are two different ways to apply this idea. First, you can use small digital screens within the product displays to highlight key items. Many manufacturers offer smaller screens that are cost effective but also mobile. Look for screens that are battery powered to avoid the need for plugs and that have wireless Internet connectivity. By using these small, portable screens, your clients can move them easily as new items become popular.


The other approach would be to use traditional larger screens positioned either within departments or at entrances. Multiple items that have been pinned can be featured along with information about where shoppers can find the items in the store.

Another growing social media site is Vine. With its six-second video clips, it’s the perfect social media plug-in for dynamic signage. Most studies show that viewers of dynamic signage have an attention span of about eight seconds, so Vine’s quick videos are sure to be brief enough to interest an audience.
Here’s a new idea to get your customers excited about using Vine within their dynamic signage: They can engage with their followers by asking them to feature their products or services in videos. Going a step further, they can introduce contests and request submissions.

By tasking followers with creating videos, brands are actually placing advertising into the hands of the public. And with an extra incentive that winning videos would not only be viewable on Vine and websites but also in store locations, customers become more engaged and excited about the brand.

For example, let’s say a yogurt shop introduces a new flavor and asks its patrons to create short clips introducing the product in a creative way. The submission that best speaks to the brand and the essence of the new flavor would be named the winner. The clip chosen could be played on screens in locations throughout the country. That type of recognition is something many social media enthusiasts are searching for, hoping for their “15 minutes.” The brand would not even need to offer an additional prize to the winner, but it could ask the winner to continue creating clips about his or her love for their yogurt.

Why is this a win for brands? Because they’ll be using digital screens that already act as menu or message boards and not incurring new costs for hardware. And because it’s a social campaign, they’ll be generating brand awareness with little additional expense. Finally, by finding real brand ambassadors who want to share their adoration of the product, they can scale back traditional, expensive advertising.

This integrated social media strategy is applicable across many different industries. Regardless of the product, the reasons social media works are universal.


Time to engage
Ready to introduce some new ideas to your customers about dynamic signage and social media? You don’t have to be a social media expert; however, you do need to make sure your pitch includes important information about execution. Your customers need to know why and how these techniques work, so as a provider you need to be able to answer the technical questions, too. By introducing additional ways to incorporate and use dynamic signage, brands will give you points for your forward thinking.

Dynamic signage will continue to find its way into most anywhere that consumers go. By adding a social element, you can ensure that brands get the notice they are seeking. Customers who feel like they are part of a brand’s story (and there is no doubt they do when engaging socially) become much more than customers; they become brand champions. There is no better way to capture that than by displaying the real-time interaction of social media through dynamic signage.




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