As if digital signage wasn’t sexy enough, along comes social media.
Many businesses long ago embraced digital signage and its appeal to tech-savvy consumers and audiences, but many more are just now beginning to understand its potential to drive sales and reinforce their brands. High-definition and LCD TVs and plasma screens, software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms, and an almost unlimited universe of quality content now make it much easier and cheaper to use digital signage in venues as diverse as hospitals, colleges, restaurants, and retail outlets.
The latest innovation in digital signage, however, isn’t about hardware or even software, but a trend that’s been building for a few years in pockets of the Internet and which has exploded as the hottest new marketing tool: social media.
Okay, you’re not going to find Facebook splashed across your building’s electronic façade anytime soon, nor are you going to see a live Twitter feed on Times Square. (Well, not yet anyway.) But as a growing number of companies have discovered, a few social media tools have tremendous potential to engage even more deeply with an organization’s audiences and enhance their experiences with its brand by integrating them into its digital signage network.
What does this mean for companies and organizations still grappling with the use of digital signage and technologies in their facilities? What if they’re still trying to figure out the nuances and “rules of engagement” of social media on their laptops, let alone their digital signage networks and marketing strategies? What is the learning curve for a company that just rolled out self-service kiosks but who wants to also jump into the exciting new space of location-based social media? Are there instances in which social media might not be appropriate to include in a digital signage network?
The trend clearly may not be for everyone. For privacy reasons, a hospital probably cannot o broadcast a patient “check-in” information. Business-to-business companies may be more comfortable with traditional content being fed through their digital signage networks promoting their products and services or even the latest CNN broadcasts.
Still, as the technology improves and marketing programs evolve, companies will need to evaluate how they communicate to their customers. Once upon a time, customers detested self-service checkout lines at grocery stores and went out of their way to avoid them. Now that the technology has vastly improved, many prefer self-checkout and the technology has become ubiquitous in most major supermarkets.
The same will likely happen to many organizations and companies and their utilization of digital signage and social media. Gone will be the days when one marketing campaign sufficed across multiple channels. Instead, as content becomes fragmented into smaller and smaller segments in order to meet the needs of niche audiences, so will social media become an even more critical part of marketing, both online and in-store. Despite the exciting news coming out of Foursquare and other location-based apps, digital signage still has a ways to go before it can legitimately claim that it has mastered social media, but it’s undoubtedly only a few years away. If not sooner.