Digital signage solutions motivate and engage audiences with vibrant, eye-catching images and messages delivered on bright displays. To ensure that your solutions are more than just another form of mass market advertising and to make a direct, measurable impact, it’s important for your signage to make a connection with your audience. One way to move past advertising your solutions and toward sparking engagements is to invite your customers to participate in the conversation. Social media makes this simple.

To ensure success when integrating social platforms into your digital signage solutions, follow these tips.

Choose the Right Platform for Your Audience

Not all social media platforms are equal. Avoid the easy trap of trying to get “likes” for relatively meaningless metrics that don’t connect with your audience. For example, if you’re going after a younger audience, you should consider Snapchat as the platform of choice, but LinkedIn is more appropriate for a business audience, and Pinterest is a good choice for a female audience. Facebook is fine, of course, and dominant, but it’s a mass market approach without much nuance (which might cast the net so wide that the work fails to capture anything meaningful at all). Research your audience, where they congregate and which social platforms they use habitually. This will help you craft a winning social integration strategy right out of the gate.

Integrate Beacon Technology

Because your audience is most likely carrying technology in their pocket powerful enough to get them to Mars and back, consider using the signage as a beacon that leads to smartphone actions. You can leverage built-in NFC (near-field communication), which allows a mobile device to connect to another Wi-Fi-enabled device, or simply SMS to get people to use their phones and interact with your brand. Typically, this is possible if you give something away: the classic marketing value exchange. You can’t get something from consumers without offering something else in exchange. If you want my phone number or “like”, then give me something I value. Can customers download something for free — right then and there — such as a song, a treasure map, an instant discount or a Pokémon? The touch-back to social media is that once you give away something relevant, you can then more easily ask customers to share their interactions, content or opinions with the world.

Invite Your Audience to Participate in the Conversation

Another key tactic is to use your audience to generate authentic social content to enhance the experience. As people walk by, ask them to contribute images or comments via Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter feeds, then leverage that in a meaningful way and reward them for doing so. Featuring audience-driven content changes the game from motion billboard advertising to true customer engagement, all with the added benefit of an authentic, localized flair. It’s important to have profanity filters or a simple CMS screening process in place because there are, unfortunately, trolls out there to worry about. That said, I recommend leaning into this approach, as it will help your efforts and brand stand out from the pack. There is no more powerful force in marketing than the human ego itself — our desire to see our names in lights (the ubiquitous selfie being prime evidence). People love to see their contributions (or visages) amplified.

Social media is also a great way to garner feedback from customers in the moment. Again, ensure you’re using the right social network and channels to gather their input. You’ll also need some semblance of filtering and screening if you display the voice of the consumer publicly, yet the reward for doing this may be higher than straightforward signage that lacks the human touch.

Display Your Engagements and Share Your Success

Aggregating your social statistics — the numbers from across the brand’s social footprint — into dynamic infographics is a unique way to share your engagements. This allows a creative method of showcasing data that is normally relegated to spreadsheets to become part of the messaging: “4,034 happy people think we nailed it this week!”, “33 customers received a free meal for posting a comment on Facebook today”, “10,000 4-star ratings tell us we’re on the right track. Stop by today.” This communications approach can telegraph the value, scale and real-time aspect of a given business.

With social media, you have a creative, content and brand component that wasn’t possible in the past. Ask yourself why you put your digital signage solutions out there in the first place. Odds are it was to talk about you and your company’s products or services. But consider the words of Dale Carnegie, taken from his seminal book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”: “Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.” Perhaps your digital signage is one way to start that conversation with your customers.

Digital signage can be enhanced by integrating mobile and IoT elements into the displays.