Social Media: A Missed Opportunity?

Some intriguing research was published this week by BCSC, which investigated shopping centres’ relationship with social media, and how retail schemes could better utilise such platforms to their future advantage.

By analysing primary data collected from shopping centre managers and social media users, BCSC were able to determine how effectively the two were interacting.

Some statistics published in the research were illuminating. When asked why they didn’t follow a shopping centre on social media, a combined figure of 31% of the respondents said that they were either unaware of the scheme’s on-line presence or had never considered it as a means of interaction. In addition, only 12% of shopping centre managers said that a dedicated social media executive was tasked with managing their on-line output, and less than half of the centres (42%) carry any written guidelines on social media usage.

These are just a few of the statistics that point to a missed opportunity for schemes to engage with customers on an increasingly popular platform. There seems to be a very clear and obvious dichotomy between what the public would want from a shopping centre via social media, and what those centres are currently providing. The malls seem to currently churn out repetitive marketing material, precipitating a swift click of the ‘unfollow’ button. People would, in fact, prefer malls to inform them of new store openings, upcoming events and news about improvements to the centre.

An issue that is brought up in defence of social media negligence is one of metrics. Malls find it difficult to quantify the benefit given to them by an increased on-line presence, and whether indeed it would be worth spending money improving their output on such sites in order to generate increases in revenue that may have arrived regardless. My view is that with some 175 million people people now using Twitter, and 400 million logging onto Facebook daily, is ignoring the potential of social media a risk that retailers and retail developments can afford to take?

The fact is, more and more people are harnessing the ‘wisdom of crowds’ provided by these sites to inform their choices when it comes to retail – and negative on-line publicity spreads like wildfire. Without active management of social media output, centres could find their reputations tarnished in the blink of an eye via a chatroom, hashtag, or an orchestrated on-line campaign

Read the full report on-line here.

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