Organization Name: Scarborough Town Centre
Industry: Retail – Shopping Centre
Name of contact if available:
Description of How Social Media is used for Business Performance
With the expansion of online markets, it is important for service based entities to adapt to new social media trends. Finding new ways to connect and engage with a customer could be a deciding factor of whether or not a customer decides to take their business to an online platform. Intangible qualities, like customer service experiences and customer engagement build brand loyalty and trust. Now more than ever, shopping centres need to adapt ways to reach their customers and demonstrate how a physical shopping experience trumps online shopping experiences.
Sure, online shopping allows you to buy that cute blouse while your hair is disheveled and you wear your comfy bunny slippers, but the experience is mediated by a lackluster experience. Point and click shopping just doesn’t compare to trying on different outfits, sharing a selfie with a group of friends, and maybe getting a salted pretzel on the way to the next store. STC is a prime example of integrating social media as a form of customer engagement to drive traffic and provide a first-class shopping experience. Their social media strategies put the social element back into the shopping experience.
As we all know, the term social media is a little bit of an oxymoron. Social used to mean going outside and interacting face-to-face with people. Knowing what it’s like to hold a conversation and sometimes squirming in an awkward silence. Going out with friends. Now the term is synonymous with interaction mediated with a computer screen. Just black and white text with an occasional meme. STC is bridging that gap. Steven Minielly, Scarborough Town Centre’s Operations Manager, explains how social media has increased open interaction with customers and increased engagement:
STC has created a customer service culture that integrates social media and on-site interaction. The two strategies co-exist and intertwine. Although one of the main features of STC’s social media strategy is to inform the customers about the new retailers setting up shop or the various offers and sales at the shopping centre, it also acts as a source of buzz for much anticipated annual events including Earth Day, The RVHS Bed Race, Chinese New Year, and Santa’s Arrival.
This information is posted and spread through the centre’s Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest feeds. With the assistance of social media platforms, the attendance and press associated with STC’s on-site events has grown exponentially. Although social media is a successful form of marketing strategy to draw people in, it is STC’s commitment to customer service and engagement that keeps people coming back.
Recently, Scarborough Town Centre launched their Instagram account to reach out to other growing social media demographics. The launch was coupled with the, #BeAFashionEASTA, contest that not only carried a $1000 prize in STC gift cards but encouraged STC shoppers hit the stores and send pictures of themselves in the various outfits found at STC retailers.
Social media created the opportunity to connect with customers in a fun and accessible way, reaching those who don’t normally participate on more conventional forms of social media like Facebook or Twitter. In the span of a month, STC’s Instagram account received 1029 entries and close to 400 followers. It was a unique campaign for shoppers to convey their interests and tell their fashion stories using a different medium. STC used all social media formats to reach out to customers for the launch of their Instagram contest, including this video specifically created for the #BeAFashionEASTA campaign:
Lessons for Others
Brand loyalty is more than creating trust and product transparency. Of course having a consistent message that is open and honest is the backbone of any successful business, but creating a conversation and active interaction with the customer provides valuable insights. It means reaching out to the customer and letting them know their values and feedback matter. Allow them to get involved with the brand and tell you areas of opportunity. STC gives its customers a voice through immediate contact in the community or an online community. The customers are engaged and empowered.
Scarborough Town Centre illustrates how social media is actually SOCIAL. It creates a dialogue and actually encourages people to be social outside of just an assumed social media identity. Social media, specifically for service based businesses, is meant to create more than web-based traffic but encourage foot traffic by providing reasons for them to visit the centre and return often.
Scarborough Town Centre proves that people are willing to forget the convenience of online shopping when first rate customer engagement opportunities and constant commitment to customer service are at the forefront of their priorities.
Submitted By: Constance Adams, University of Waterloo
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