Malls all a’twitter about social media

In the February issue of Chain Store Age, in our focus on mall-based social media (page 52), we referenced a fourth quarter 2010 study by Alexander Babbage, entitled the “Shopping Center Social Media Benchmark Report.”

Following are more details about the study, which found that “social media tools and networks are making it easier for shopping centers to relay information, interact with customers and generally stay connected.” 

Alexander Babbage began collecting data two quarters ago from nearly 2,000 U.S. shopping centers measuring 300,000 sq. ft. or larger. Of the 1,842 centers surveyed, the majority (777) were regional centers, 522 were lifestyle centers, 432 were super-regional centers, 94 were value centers and 17 were entertainment centers.

Key findings of the study include:

  • Since data was first collected two quarters ago, use of Facebook and Twitter by U.S. shopping centers 300,000 sq. ft. or larger has grown by 78.2% and 54.5% respectively.
  • Among all centers studied in the fourth quarter, just less than half (46.0%) are on Facebook, while 37.1% have a Twitter account, a percent growth of 39.3% and 22.6% respectively from third quarter to fourth quarter 2010.
  • Super regional centers have the highest percentage of Facebook pages (68.5%), while value centers continue to have the strongest presence on Twitter (58.5%).
  •  Industry‐wide, social media use among shopping centers has seen increased growth over the past three quarters. However, Facebook in particular has seen notable growth from 608 centers on Facebook in the third quarter, to 847 in the fourth quarter, growth of 78.2% in three months.
  • The average number of Facebook fans in the fourth quarter was 1,626 per center, and despite a growing number of centers utilizing Facebook (and therefore having below average number of fans), the average still increased by 4.0% from the previous quarter’s average of 1,563 fans.
  • The highest number of Facebook fans for any one center was 115,060 for the super regional center Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.
  • The average number of Twitter followers per center in fourth quarter 2010 was 310, a 10.3% increase from the previous quarter’s average of 281 followers.
  • The highest number of Twitter followers for any one center was 6,960 for the lifestyle center The Grove in Los Angeles.
  • Among developers with 20 or more centers, Simon Property Group, CBL & Associates Properties and Macerich all experienced growth exceeding 100% in the number of centers using Facebook from third quarter to fourth quarter 2010. Glimcher remains the only developer among those with 20 or more centers to have 100% participation on both Facebook and Twitter.
  • Shopping centers in the west continue to utilize social media more than any other region, with half of all centers on Facebook and Twitter. Centers in the south have seen the most growth in the use of both Facebook (44.2%) and Twitter (70.7%) over the past quarter.

According to Alexander Babbage, social media is not just a fad. “It is our opinion that it is here to stay,” concluded the report.

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