2020 has been downright bizarre in too many ways to mention. And, as this overall strangeness translates to the marketing realm, the notion of the ‘ever-changing marketing landscape’ has never been more applicable — if not understated.
Nothing stays the same — in life or in marketing — and this year, it is essential to examine the trends and developments taking place in digital marketing and social media. In 2020, we’ve seen remarkable news stories hit our feeds, from a global pandemic to civil unrest to natural disaster. And, in these turbulent times, marketing has required a great deal of tact and sensitivity. That’s why, above all, the ability to ‘read the room’ is an overarching imperative atop everything. This week we talk “social.”
The year of disruption: social-in-place (just like “shelter in place”)
When the whole world is focused on the same thing, we rely on social media to express ourselves and feel connected. 2020 has been the year of disruption: Climate crisis, COVID-19, racial justice, #BlackLivesMatter, and a presidential election. What can we take away from all this (in a business context)? And what on earth can we say on social media — as a brand — when the entire country/world is laser-focused on one hot button issue? Apparently, a lot.
After all, those alive today have never experienced anything of the same magnitude as what is currently happening. 2020 was a period of transformation. A year of change and a year to change — and in profound ways. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced nearly everyone to alter how they interact and communicate, at least to some degree. Consequently, on a fundamental level, being social has changed.
Social media usage during disruption
In March 2020, when the lockdowns and social distancing protocols first began, Facebook’s analytics department reported a 50% surge in messaging. Similarly, WhatsApp saw a 40% lift in usage, and TikTok global downloads grew 5% month-over-month — adding over 12 million unique US-based visitors. All this is indicative that, since so many people were essentially confined to their homes due to the pandemic, overall social media use skyrocketed. In fact, 46% of women and 41% of men say they’ve spent more time on social media during the pandemic than they had prior — and new research has shown that 80-90% of people now consume news from social outlets for an average of nearly 24 hours in a given week. This represents a staggering amount of time engaging with online media — and it’s vital for the ShopCore Brand, and, more importantly, our shopping centers to have a presence in that equation.
So, while it can be challenging to figure out how to speak to our consumers on social media during crisis times, being present, interacting regularly, and focusing on community-building is even more critical now than before. Bottom line, we are all spending a lot more time on social media — which means that’s where our shopping centers should be striving to reach people. By cultivating meaningful engagement with our audiences, this familiarity will bolster brand affinity, brand loyalty, and ultimately, our brand’s survival and success.
Early in the year, we set some aggressive strategies and goals for increasing our shopping center’s social presence, and so far, we’ve seen measurable success. Even through a pandemic, which essentially gutted retail back in Q1, we managed to keep engaged and in front of our customers by offering relevant and timely content.
Last year, our shopping centers were not capitalizing enough on digital and web marketing. We didn’t have SEO (search engine optimization) or SEM (search engine marketing) in our marketing mix. We also didn’t engage in paid social programming (social is a pay-to-play environment.) This year, we took a different approach, which explains why our results are so incredibly staggering. Results for ShopCore properties from the last three months have shown our shopping center social campaigns have increased traffic back to the property websites from +618% (being the lowest at One Colorado) to +1,957% (being the highest at Downtown Palm Beach Gardens) compared to 2019. Furthermore, when you examine our properties’ social channels (Facebook, Insta, Snap, YouTube) we also performed exceptionally well. Comparing October, November, and December 2020 to the same period in 2019, our total page reach (total number of different people or households) increased anywhere from 195% to 985%, with most of our properties at the 900% increase mark. More to come in 2021 as we continue to build and enhance our strategies; bring it on, we got this!