How to build a successful shopping centre social media strategy

By 17th July 2019Case Study, Social
Someone using social media

Social media. It’s easy right? You just take some pics, slap on a hashtag and wait for the likes to pour in. If you’re a celebrity or influencer, then this method may work. But, there’s a lot more that goes into a social media strategy. It takes #sweat, #tears and lots of #research – ok we may have lied a bit about the first two. But we’re definitely being honest when it comes to the last – because knowing your tenants, their customers and their interests are key to growing engagement through successful social media.

So where do you start when creating your social media campaign? Get ready to be inspired – it’s not what you may think…

Don’t take things at face value

We work with a wide range of shopping centres, and at first glance, you’d think mostly posting about fashion would be a given in boosting that engagement and reach. Right? Wrong. Because there’s more to creating popular content than meets the eye.

Shopping centres come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  Some offer a broad range of high profile retailers, while others are more community based, often working with independent retailers or promoting events around empty retail units. And when it comes to finding the right message, it’s definitely not a one size fits all strategy.

So, in our view, the real way to get your social followers talking, and your engagement reach up, is to think out of the box and write a range of content that helps make you stand out from your competitors.

For each and every one of our clients, we put together a strategy where we explore a diverse selection of topics.  For some that might include celebrity, fashion and food and for others it’s all about community content.  That way we can see what resonates best with their local followers.

Let’s break it down a bit more for you with some examples.

Ring in the retailers

Of course, it’s important to shout about new stores and promote what’s going on in each one. But that isn’t always enough. Let’s take the example of The Brewery in Romford. A centre with a range of stores such as TKMAXX, Next and Gap outlets and a range of restaurants, its previous strategy had been mainly to promote what was on offer at each place. However, this wasn’t working brilliantly for engagement.

We looked at the demographic and researched what The Brewery meant to them.  Instead of posting just about store openings, we decided to take a different approach and add a personal touch. We went to meet all the retailers, taking time at the centre to turn a normal post into something more personal.

For example, shouting about a new store manager with a picture that we’d taken.  Taking product photography inside stores with catchy calls to action, as well as liaising with their head offices to find out about any latest promotions, staff changes and store refurbs.  This ‘insider’ strategy worked well, with follower and engagement figures rising significantly.

And while we can’t always measure the direct impact of social media on store footfall, our experience is that by creating brand relationships, coupled with the latest store information (delivered via our dynamic  ‘Offers’ feed which pulls through store discounts onto web and social media platforms) we can deliver a joined-up strategy that works.

Community, community, community

community event

Whilst some of our clients already have a range of content or scheduled events that help us build their social media strategy, others need far more research and a plan in place that differs from just promoting their retailers’ offerings.

In our research, a key focus is often the community, and how a shopping centre or business can support their local environment.  We used this strategy to enhance their social media: photos of charity collectors in the building, mentioning centre staff and store managers who had gone above and beyond, and, of course, promoting external events around the area, have all gained high engagement.

We’ve also found talking about local human stories have done well. Of course, it may not result in immediate footfall, but this type of strategy is a long-term push. It means more followers who see the centre as the source of good quality informative local content. The more association to them means a better advocacy and loyalty, thus converting to shopper visits and higher visibility of all content.

Furthermore, the more of a community reputation there is, the better it stands out from a competitor in a small radius with the same offerings, thus increasing the footfall moving forward. One great example of this type of move is The Baytree Shopping Centre. Small, with empty retail units, this scheme needed a boost in social. We took all its activities, such as growing vegetables in their staff garden, and tied this in with awareness days to bring a community spirit to life. And their engagement grew too!

Boosting basics

Some social media strategies are built on a steady amount of boosting in a bid to raise awareness and numbers. And that’s all fine and dandy when you’re working with clients who have a great budget.

However, we believe that this method doesn’t always work and would rather build an organic audience with a robust and engaging strategy. That’s why we choose only to put money behind a one-off event or important piece of information. This ensures that the right content is in front of the right people, and if we’re boosting an event, encourages footfall. Of course, the boost reach means that organic traffic grows too.

And we could go on, from talking more about competitions to sustainability strategies, but we don’t want to give all our secrets away! Like what you’ve read and want to know how we can improve your social strategy? Drop us a line. We love social and building success stories from it.

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