Thursday, May 13, 2010

Social Media Review: Shopping Centres

Shopping centre marketers are starting to use social networking as a cost effective method of keeping their retail destinations in front of their key audiences.

Social media for shops (on and offline) has proven to be a great tool to drive awareness, footfall and most importantly sales. We are seeing a number of shopping centres now promoting the ‘Community’ feel on their sites, but many are missing a trick in integrating their community focus with social media.

Rocktime works with a number of fashion and beauty bloggers, who we know regularly tweet and blog about new store openings at their local shopping centres and are eager to promote the latest shopping trends to their followers. As a consequence, there is a significant opportunity for shopping centre marketing managers to leverage and connect with the local fashion bloggers, letting them know in advance of new launches, shops, or possibly even blogger-specific events. Many shopping centres use Facebook to connect with their regular shoppers and this morning we found almost 100 UK shopping centres of differing sizes that currently use Twitter.

The majority use Twitter to interact and engage with fans and shopping centre staff as well as promoting:

• Shop offers
• New launches
• New shop openings
• Meal deals
• Competitions-West12shopping centre in Shepherds Bush is particularly active
• Following the stores in their centres & Re Tweeting their promotions & news

Ashford Outlet Centre in Kent regularly posts lifestyle tips, new shops, charity events and personal shopping services on their blog. Their BIO states:

“Insider news on the latest stock, best buys and events from the people who work at, shop at and love Ashford Designer Outlet”

Bridgend Outlet centre has a similar message:
“Insider news on the latest stock, best buys and events from the people who work at, shop at and love Bridgend Designer Outlet”

On closer review this particular chain of Outlet centres in the UK shares the same web template, with each also offering a blog in the same standard design. Each page within the website is unique as they are focused on the individual shopping centre locations and facilities; content is however repeated across the blogs, which isn’t a good strategy for SEO, as the shopping outlet with the most links to it will be the one that will receive a placement in the search results for that blog post. Nonetheless this is an effective way of getting the word out on what is new to a location-targeted audience.

View the links below to understand more about the standard template designs:

Ashford Designer Outlet

Bridgend Designer Outlet

We recommend that shopping centres use social media as part of their overall marketing plan, but for true ROI it should not be viewed as an ‘add on’ but must be integrated with traditional media marketing such as print and radio, as well as focused on the website search optimisation strategy.

If you give shoppers a reason to integrate with your communities, then shopping centres can then drive these campaigns via other marketing channels - i.e. posters within the centre, local newspapers, or social responsible community PR programmes to increase community involvement further.

Examples of encouraging shopper to interact might include the following:

“Find out about all the latest shopping centre gossip over at Twitter and Facebook”

“Let us know what you think of the new XY store over at our blog”.

“Who would you like to turn on the Xmas lights? Vote over at our Facebook page”

“Keep up with the latest style trends with us”

Social Networking can also assist with the creation of other cost effective ideas, which can be derived by listening, learning and engaging with your fans within social networks or on your corporate blog.

Shopping Centre Marketing Managers, or a designated marketing agency, can use social media to trail out new ways of getting people increase footfall to a destination, such as:

“Take part in an exclusive competition; pick up a leaflet from the info office this weekend”

“Print off this voucher available on Facebook and get it stamped over at the Info desk and receive discounts at xy store”

The information captured can then be fed back into the shopping centre’s marketing database, and used to further help promote community involvement and most importantly drive further footfall.

Sharing with you my (current) top ten shopping centres using Social Media
Bicester Village (Club, YouTube, Twitter, ENews, Facebook, Flickr, RSS)
West 12 Shopping (Twitter,VIP ENews)
West Quay (Twitter,Facebook)
GunWharf Quays (Club, Facebook, Twitter)
Liverpool One (Twitter, ENews)
West Orchards (Twitter, Facebook, ENews)
Spinningfields (Community, Club, Twitter)
Westfield (Twitter, Style Blog)
Bullring (Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, RSS, Community, ENews)
Trafford Centre (Twitter, Facebook, Blog, YouTube)

As a team we really are getting quite passionate about the value of social media for retail clients, if you are in retail and would like to discuss this further please get in touch with Fiona Anderson in the Flashlight Team.

Fiona worked on early in-store theatre innovations for fashion brands, through to current expanding a brand’s online footprint. Fiona’s direct experience with the challenges of operating a shopping centre has been the Dolphin Shopping Centre, in Poole and small scale events at The Cascades Shopping Centre, in Portsmouth, back in 2004. Surprisingly she has been quoted as saying “she hates shopping for herself but loves the shopping research for clients”. Give her a call and convince her that your shop, shopping centre or retail experience will change her mind.

Our Logic Content Management System boasts several modules to suit retail clients including: Voucher Codes, Competition module, Community features, Store Locator, find out more about Rocktimes Bespoke Web CMS here.

In the meantime happy shopping....

Author: Sarah Griffiths @sarahgriffiths


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