Social networking is huge today and many clients and customers turn to social media as a means of finding products, locating businesses and comparing prices before going to a brick and mortar store front, shopping center or mall to make a purchase. Social networking tools can be used by owners of shopping centers and store owners as a means of reaching customers and reinforcing relationships with existing customers; it’s easy to use and very cost-effective.
What specific benefits can face to face social networking and online social networking tools provide a mall or shopping center owner? How can a store in a shopping center benefit from these marketing techniques?
Branding: It is important to make your mall or shop known well in your local area. You want customers to come to your website because they get interesting facts or needed information and, while there, learn about new products, sales, clearance items, events or other facts that will make them want to visit your store. Choose information that complements your product or service. For example, if your shop specializes in nautical items, you might provide local fishing information or if you have sporting goods, provide the local sporting events schedule for your area.
Special Event Promotion: Whether it is a Back to School sale or you are sponsoring a concert, fair or charity event, you want the local customer base to about events and happenings affiliated with your shopping center, store or mall. Newspaper advertising is losing popularity because fewer and fewer people read traditional newspapers, instead turning to the internet for their news stories.
Viral Promotion: Today anyone who uses a computer is aware of videos on the internet that get thousands or millions of hits because word spread virally about the website. You can capitalize on this phenomenon because a totally engaged customer who truly enjoyed their experience with your business will pass the word, including a link to your social networking page in most cases, along to their friends online. Of course, a customer that has a really bad experience will be sure to spread the word to even more people online, so you want to ensure that your employees understand exceptional customer service and how going the extra mile can ensure their futures with your organization. A recent Gallup Business Journal article reflects their research by stating: “Prospective customers are much more likely to try your product or service or advocate on your behalf if they hear good things about you from an engaged customer in their social network. Prospects are most likely to rely on people they have close relationships with or trust, such as a spouse or family member or an expert. They are much less likely to trust online or TV advertising or corporate-sponsored Facebook pages or Twitter feeds. “
Market Coverage: Polls such as the October, 2009 SmopSmart study of 1,000 women across the US reveal that 70% of mom in the 30-49 age group use social networking. 83% of shopper, many of whom are using social networking, use online social media to research products and final the best sources and lowest prices. 63% say they often wait until an item goes on sale to make a purchase. It is still true today that women do more of the shopping for the family than men and it only makes sense to reach women (and men) online by using the social networks they frequent. Social networking tools can get the information to customers that have connected with your shop by shopping there and an infinite number of new prospects can be reached when the customer waiting for that great sale notices the message from your business social networking site that tells them the discount prices and sale dates for those items they have been waiting to buy.