The Ridings Centre is a fabulous example of how local shopping centres can stay connected to customers and engage them with locally relevant content. Throughout lockdown the Ridings has kept up its communication, not only focusing on its retailers, but also on the causes close to its Wakefield customers' hearts. Here we show you the ten steps they take to achieve ongoing engagement whether they are fully open for business or not.

Step 1: What was the business goal?

Like all local shopping centres, the Ridings Centre needs to use social media to keep customers engaged. The Ridings keeps up its social media activity to ensure customers are visiting and shopping at essential retailers during lockdown, and are excited to return when the doors reopen for everyone.

Step 2: Telling the The Ridings story

The Ridings is rightfully proud of its place within the Wakefield community. Throughout lockdown the centre has continued to support the shop local message in Wakefield. The centre uses local hashtags such as #lovewakefield in its content and the #shoplocal message sits at the centre of the conversation as does the place hashtag #wakefield.

The Maybe* what’s being said report showing the conversation created by The Ridings Centre through November

Having a strong local connection to place is vital for local shopping centres and for independent businesses, as it shows pride in place and support for the local community. People will care about you and your business when they see you care about them.

Step 3: What did The Ridings want its audience to do?

The Ridings wants its customers to continue to shop local despite being locked down, and still visit the centre for its essential retail needs. The centre produces regular updates on Facebook and Instagram displaying the list of retailers still open. It regularly produces guidelines and expectations for customers to follow and observe to shop safely.

Step 4: How does The Ridings engage with customers?

The Ridings doesn't’ simply engage with comments and feedback on its own pages or in its own inbox. The business proactively encourages shopping local and supports its local community in Wakefield. By listening to and engaging in the Wakefield conversation, the Ridings Centre are able to demonstrate their commitment to Wakefield, and earn its place at the heart of the community. The business benefit of this is that it increases the likelihood of someone who doesn’t know you or your brand, checking out your own social media profiles. When this happens on a Facebook or Instagram profile, Facebook captures the details of that user. Even though those details won’t make the customer identifiable to you, it does mean that if you’re advertising you can then build a custom audience to target anyone who’s engaged with your content or even simply visited your social media page.

The Maybe* engage view showing the local #wakefield conversation The Ridings can listen to and participate in

Step 5: Who did The Ridings need to engage?

The Ridings needed to continue to engage local shopping centre customers in Wakefield. Despite being closed the centre posted details of retailers still open at the beginning of lockdown 2. The centre used the hashtag #staysafe and #shoplocal to demonstrate it wanted to support its local retailers.

Maybe* allows you to track your social media performance across best social media posts, engagement, sentiment, conversation topics and influencer. Doing this allows you to see what tactics are working for your competitors, so you can do more of the same. You can set your competitor when you sign up to Maybe* for free.

The Maybe* dashboard showing The Ridings Centre's best performing social media post against another local shopping centre

Step 6: Where did The Ridings need to engage and how did they do it successfully?

The Ridings Centre sees most of its engagement on Facebook and so that's where it invests most of its social media effort. You can find out where your customers are the most active, and the content that engages them the most by using the Maybe* See what works report.

The Maybe* see what works report showing the content posted by The Ridings and the engagement with it

Throughout November the centre engaged its audience with lots of content about the Poppy Appeal. But it also still continued to stay connected to customers with its Christmas messaging, and despite lockdown teased what customers could expect from its Christmas decor on reopening. Asking for opinions on the decorations encouraged further engagement as well as excitement.

Step 7: Who or what else are your customers distracted by and interested in?

The Ridings Centre knew that its customers, while concerned about lockdown 2, were also moved by Remembrance Sunday. The Centre changed out its social icons and profile pictures to support the Poppy Appeal. Knowing what else your customers care about, and showing your allegiance for those causes is a lovely, genuine way to build engagement and a deeper connection with your audience.

To understand the types of content that engage businesses like yours, the Maybe* Insight builder is your go to feature. Not only will you see all the key social media metrics, but you’ll also see the best posts by the businesses you have added to the Maybe* platform, either to engage with or monitor.

Step 8: Mastering advertising

The Ridings Centre is not currently running any advertising. Like many local shopping centres it has likely dialled back spend while locked down. You can check whether other businesses in your town or place, or your competitors have switched on advertising by following the video tip.

To see if other businesses like yours are advertising and who to, sneak a peek. Facebook makes ads transparency publicly available to ensure the users know why they are being targeted.

Step 9: What are the Ridings Centre’s measures of success?

Improving your social media is all about testing things, doing more of what’s working and less of what’s not. The Maybe* Insight summary allows you to benchmark yourself against other local businesses or other similar businesses in your industry so you know exactly where you are performing and where you need to improve. The Ridings Centre have seen that although they have a smaller social media base, they are more active on social media, and achieve more engagements per day than other local shopping centres.

The Maybe* Insight summary showing the top level social media performance metrics for The Ridings Centre against other local shopping centres

Step 10: Did the campaign deliver on the original objective?

The Ridings Centre has absolutely been able to continue to engage customers and stay connected. In addition its ensured its messaging is varied by supporting the Poppy Appeal, and continuing to create Christmas content, and drummed home the importance of place.

Key takeaway

The Ridings Centre gets social media right for a local shopping centre. It has a strong place message, a strong retail message, and plenty of content that is relevant and exciting to keep its customer base engaged. In addition with plenty of safety messaging and clear guidance, it has nailed the tone of the times while still remaining positive. It is an approach local shopping centres and any business can learn from. Maybe* is here to help businesses stay connected to customers so you can make more sales.

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