Social media channels and shopping centres

Posted On Thursday, 22 September 2011 02:00 Published by
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The rapid increase of shopping centres in South Africa has led to massive competition in a post-recession market

As a result, shopping centres need to communicate directly with their local shopper audiences to understand their needs and draw them to their centres.

"Post 1994 saw a boom in shopping centre development with hundreds being completed in the past 10 years and another 26 touted to open," says Mark Souris, Managing Director of Periscopic, a commercial property management company.

"It is vital that centre management sees social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter as an imperative communication tool. To lag behind the adoption of this technology will be detrimental.
"Facebook has seen its most explosive growth in Africa, with a 50% increase within the past year of users in South Africa alone. 1 It is vital that shopping centre managers see the importance of using social networking sites as a means to communicate directly with shoppers in the surrounding communities so they can stay in touch with the wants and needs of their target audiences," says Souris.

According to Jono Judelman, Managing Director of Twique Digital, a leading online marketing company, social media provides shopping centre owners with a key marketing attribute, a direct link to sales and events. "Through strategic promotions to customers, shopping centres can both market to and welcome in their customers to a single location/ store, putting the centre in the unique position of being able to directly measure the impact of their social media marketing efforts against footfall/sales. The challenge shopping centre management face is to put in place systems at retail level that enable retailers to measure the success of the social media campaign and report this information back to centre management.

Souris adds to this, "The interactivity presented by social networking gives shopping centre management the ability to engage with their shoppers and tenants in real time. This means that centre management can design more direct/ targeted campaigns that will produce significant results if properly managed and resourced.
"It is up to the shopping centre management team to know what trends are current and how they will be beneficial to their centres. By embracing the flexibility of social media and taking advantage of the latest mobile/ smart phone technology, successful and well executed campaigns can be directly linked to an increase in footfall, something vital to any centre," says Souris.

"Centre management can collate direct results between sales and various social media marketing projects such as discounts, campaigns which have been run off Facebook etc. However, the messaging needs to be strategic for this to work. Centre Management has to realise that in order to be effective, social networking needs to be incorporated into their marketing plan and not left to run independently," says Judelman.

Souris adds, "It would be remiss for centre management not to take advantage of the technology available to them. Most campaigns would have to be LSM dependant, but keeping abreast with technology and how it is used to communicate is keeping in touch with the life blood of your shopping centre.

It is essential that you communicate with the right person, your shopper and engage with them on a level they can relate too. The right kinds of activities such as relevant competitions or giveaways that speak to your target audience are critical. "

Publisher: eProp
Source: Periscopic

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