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Friday, October 14, 2011

Community Management: How Mall of America Developed a Social Business Strategy

Bridget Jewell, @bmjewell PR Manager, MOA four years. Lisa Grimm, @lulugrimm Digital Brand Manager, MOA, 18 months, manages digital team.

What is Community Management? At Mall of America, Bridget Jewell and Lisa Grimm daily monitor online conversation, curate content and engage with folks while developing new systems for implementation of social media strategy. Bridget recalls MOA in Spring 2009 when one person was posting in the interactive department and all questions were handled by one PR person. “Fashion Sense” blog was launched by MOA, with blog posts to Facebook and Twitter.  It didn’t have many followers because the blog was separate from the website, but once it was integrated, traffic increased significantly. 
Retailer Promotions and deals are now hosted on the MOA blog with weekly posts to Facebook and Twitter plus tweeting Foursquare specials and other promotions.
The Mall of America Facebook gained more consumer interaction generated by targeted campaigns; such as a prom theme to reach teenagers, and managing the fan base and increasing influx of comments became unwieldy to address. Growing from 5,000 fans on its first day to over 15,000 in the first month climbing to nearly 300,000 fans now.
Bridget describes the transition in social media from fighting the stigma: “You’re just playing on Facebook all day” to “We need to hire someone to manage all of this.” And so, Lisa was hired. Now Public Relations and Marketing own the dialogue with the customer, and IT delivers the message.

The MOA culture works together for one goal of creating a great experience for the guest.
Social media handled in-house offers a personal approach and immediate response with communication tools that are simple, fun and engaging for guests. Education about social media tools, transfuses MOA culture from the inside out to create an army of brand advocates. Answering the question: Why should customers “like” us on Facebook and “follow” us on twitter with mall staff and tenants helps with this effort. Generating awareness and increasing sales for tenants & partners and reputation management are the primary goals.
Lisa describes The Mall as “a vibrant place, full of constant activity, projects and opportunity.” Educating MOA guests about promotions, events, parking updates, security alerts is their main focus.
With over 500+ tenants, not including outside partners and prospects, understanding their specific business goals and leveraging Mall social media tools to achieve them is the exciting challenge of their jobs.
Facebook Insights offers valuable demographic data. To monitor what people are saying about MOA and its stores, TweetDeck is the tool of choice to monitor a number of search terms and conversations. Geolocation apps, Foursquare and Yelp, provide user tips and guest comments. Additionally, they use a media-monitoring service that pulls MOA mentions in numerous mediums, including blogs. They use the iPhone notification app Boxcar because it works with multiple accounts and rolls into an RSS feed.
Lisa and Bridget continuously monitor MOA Twitter (over 10,600 fans) by being on-call nights and weekends and sharing multimedia content and location within a status update. They have the ability to offer superior customer service, via social media, by connecting with folks and quickly responding in real time. This real time information that people share, both positive and negative, helps brand managers understand who their customers are right now and get them to the point of purchase, with higher satisfaction and faster than ever before possible..
MOA Guests #1 headache is solved with twitter parking updates: #MOAparking
Check out new deals and fun events at: #MOADeals#MOABlog,

Could Lisa and Bridget’s next move be a contest that utilizes social media to attract more mall visitors and sales during the holiday season? Stay tuned....@mallofamerica

A special thanks to Jill Nicholson, a MIMA volunteer, for this post. Jill, founder of Nicholson MindShare, is a social media strategist and trainer and manages a team of interactive creatives. She has a BFA from MCAD & an MBA from St. Thomas.  You can find her on and follow her on twitter @down2earth2, @jobs4creatives.