Like! The Social Media Friend

There is a plethora of commentary on the return on investment of Social Media marketing.

Googling “ROI Social Media” returns millions of hits; multitudes of marketing and retailing conferences devote attention to the issue and Social Media advertising gurus promote themselves by producing research reports and papers claiming to have cracked the code of evidenced based Social Media marketing practice.

Still the ROI is less tangible than we’d all like.

That is, if it is measured at all.

One recent international report found that while almost 40% of large consumer companies (and 49% of retailers) reported a positive return on their Social Media investment, 44% of companies had not made any attempt to measure it at all. Such assessment, of course, is after the fact. You’ve run your campaign, analysed its impact, and drawn up lessons learned to be incorporated in the next promotion. What else can you inject into the process to improve efficiency, and effectively hit your target market?

One data set to include would be that market’s preferences for marketing, that is, what mediums do your customers like to receive their marketing information through? And, getting more specific, through which mediums do they prefer to receive marketing about shopping centre promotions and events?

It’s a question we ask whenever we interview customers in Australian shopping centres. Obviously, locally specific data is required for each market or trade area, but as a starting point, an awareness of how consumers more broadly consume shopping centre marketing material offers a good introductory guide.

The first thing to note about Social Media as a marketing tool for the retail property industry is that it sits well behind traditional media in terms of customer preference. Far more people prefer to receive information through newspapers, colour catalogues, radio and television than through Social Media.

So while it’s now an essential tool in your marketer’s armoury, it should only be a relatively small component of the overall marketing mix. Social Media is also, as we know, a medium of youth. It is far more popular with consumers under the age of 30 than over. Preference for receiving material through Social Media drops steeply with age thereafter.

Marketing relies on creating buzz and excitement, but it also has to reach the target market. What demographic group makes up the largest proportion of shopping centre customers, and has the highest average spend? Women in their forties and fifties.

Social Media will reach some of these women, but other mediums are far more preferred. When we then look at the shopping patterns of customers who prefer Social Media, we find that they have lower than average spends largely due to their lower spend on Food Retail.

The good news? They spend more than average in Apparel, Homewares, and Leisure product categories.

Recent research shows that Social Media works best in industries that sell products and services consumers are passionate about. This includes retailers. The key to leveraging this interest as marketing capital is to create avid “tribes” of loyalists around such products and services. Combining this with our understanding of the demographics and shopping patterns of customers who want to receive marketing through Social Media, we can see that creating “loyalists” around food retailing is going to be a tough ask.

A youth targeted campaign around fashion and accessories, though, contains more ingredients for success. For more information about our Australian Shopping Centre Marketing Report, give us a call on 1300 138 651 or email us at