Shopping centers that use social media may be interested in a recent report that recommends dropping Facebook as an advertising channel. Forrester, a consulting firm, recommends brands explore smaller social networks that have less clutter in newsfeeds and advertising.
Specifically, Forrester cites “marketers are dissatisfied with the performance of their Facebook pages and point to the fact that brands don’t actually have social relationships with their customers.” This is an important consideration for shopping centers when assessing a social media strategy. Forrester’s data implies poor advertising performance via Facebook and Twitter; this indicates a potential shift in shopping centers’ social media strategy. The number of fans and followers will not continue to grow rapidly for shopping centers as the industry’s social media presence matures. As the number of fans and followers plateaus and stabilizes, continuing to flood news feeds with untargeted advertising will exhaust the pool of maximum recipients. In order to reduce the threat of removal – or disinterest – the quality of social media content is more critical than ever.
Alexander Babbage’s research on the shopping center industry’s use of social media indicates the number of centers using social media began to plateau in 2013, and some centers have dropped both Facebook and Twitter. However, engagement in social media has increased compared to prior years. A leading contributor to increased engagement is the adoption of smaller social networks such as Instagram and Pinterest. These less cluttered networks provide shopping centers opportunities to connect with their consumers in a more intimate manner through the focused use of pictures, trends and idea sharing. Our research revealed that 292 shopping centers were using Instagram and 155 were using Pinterest at the end of 2013.
According to Jerry Daykin, global digital director at the media agency Carat, ”Social media provides a more cost effective media investment than TV and traditional display.” For shopping centers with restricted marketing budgets, social media campaigns can be effective when executed properly. But, the social media space should not be viewed as a cheaper alternative advertising channel; rather, it should be viewed as a cost-effective strategic connection with consumers. With this in mind, the integration of additional social networks – and meaningful, impactful content – should be a priority for shopping centers during 2015.