In today’s pervasive social environment, over 3.2 billion daily users turn to social media to fulfil both personal and business needs. Social media has become a method of selling just as much as it’s a medium to share information about day-to-day activities.
With the understanding that social media is a key component of selling business — and the desire to connect with brands looking to grow through physical retail — Brookfield Properties developed its first social selling program (SSP). This corporate owned and supported Instagram program allows Brookfield’s sales teams to curate touch points for their target customers, and offers a platform where they can identify, nurture and close leads.
Brookfield’s SSP launched with fifteen Instagram accounts, divided into two categories:
- National: run by national-reaching selling departments.
- Local: run by local-focused selling teams in Atlanta, Baltimore, New England, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
Each Instagram account linked to a landing page with a form to collect leads through Salesforce. 1000+ pieces of on-brand content were created and hosted in a content library to arm Brookfield’s sales team with the proper messaging to bring in new leads, foster existing relations and position Brookfield Properties as a thought leader and expert in the retail industry.
About the company
Brookfield Properties manages, leases and redevelops high-quality properties across the globe, including 150+ of the most iconic malls in the US. More than that, it is a retail real estate company that is passionate about shifting how the world thinks about retail. The company is an experience, a community, an environment — a retail operating system. With innovation, strategic thinking, community partnerships, advanced sustainability initiatives, and unparalleled activations, Brookfield is transforming its centres into destinations for the next generation.
Strategy – broader business issues the company is facing
While Brookfield Properties has brought many digitally native brands to their first brick-and-mortar space, there is a huge opportunity to connect with emerging brands who have not yet explored physical retail. Brookfield Properties has identified these digitally native brands as a top target as it believes they are the future of retail. Brookfield also wanted to connect with small and local businesses, a majority of whom are active on Instagram and looking for resources to grow their brand. The Covid-19 pandemic shook up so many small businesses, and Brookfield felt it was their responsibility as a mall operator to help struggling businesses by offering strategies to help them grow and to demonstrate that expanding their business was still possible. Brookfield Properties was challenged to consider the following:
- Identifying brands.
- Connecting with brands.
- Providing messaging that would resonate with brands.
- Supporting the brands as they make their way into one of Brookfield’s brick-and mortar locations.
Objectives of the campaign
Connecting with digitally native brands and letting them know that Brookfield has the best spaces in the right communities that can help them grow was a great opportunity. The company identified Instagram – specifically, a social selling program – as an appropriate conduit to reach these brands. Brookfield created Instagram handles that spoke directly to certain areas of business, including digitally native brands, food and beverage companies, and those located in major US cities. The content created spoke directly to these brands, sharing stories of Brookfield’s company’s capabilities, goals, and commitment to customers. Brookfield’s objective in creating this content was to inform businesses of:
- Its capabilities as a mall operator.
- How Brookfield drives traffic to its malls.
- Brookfield’s knowledge of the industry.
- Property highlights, including new retailers, community and cultural events.
By sharing this content through the SSP, Brookfield reached brands, tracked and increased leads, and raised its own brand awareness.
The target audience
The SSP was designed to be used by Brookfield’s leasing department – a team who had not yet tapped into social media as a means of selling business. Brookfield understood that social media channels were viable for the leasing team’s selling success story, and that creating the SSP would open the doors to unexplored opportunities. To onboard the Leasing team, Brookfield introduced them to – and trained them on – its social media scheduling system, Sprinklr. Once mastered, this tool allowed the leasing representatives to create, manage, publish and analyse their content all in one place. In addition to training them on how to access and use the content library – a resource that hosts over 1000 pieces of ready-to-share content – Brookfield also trained them on how to build a post from scratch, encouraging them to source their own photos and ideas, and use them to further build awareness of Brookfield and leasing opportunities.
Media, channels or techniques used
Brookfield utilised four channels:
- Instagram: for sharing content and engaging prospects. This is the only platform utilised for the program as it was identified as the optimal space to connect with small businesses.
- Sprinklr: Brookfield’s social media management platform.
- Microsoft Teams: the communication platform used for training, collaboration and info sessions.
- Salesforce: lead tracker. Brookfield helps bi-monthly training and a weekly support series to help its leasing representatives master the SSP. Organic posts, as well as Instagram advertisements, were utilised to get a wider reach. The advertisements directed users to a landing page with a form on it. When a form was filled out, the information was routed directly into Salesforce, where a sales representative would immediately get notified, allowing for quick follow-up, as well as data collection to nurture these leads in the future.
Timescales of the campaign
- Researching social media policies, building SSP roadmap, vetting vendors: 2019.
- PR and digital marketing agency partnership: November 2019 – March 2020.
- Finalised new company social media policy: January 2020.
- Building content library: December 2019 – May 2020.
- SSP training and preparing accounts: May – June 2020.
- Launch – July 2020.
In July 2020, Brookfield launched its social selling program with 15 social media accounts that now have over +10 thousand followers. Since launch, thousands of content pieces were created, posted and shared. Brookfield has also seen thousands of Instagram likes, comments, DMs and form fills for its web lead program. What the company is most proud of is the impressive brand extension that its created through this program. In one year, Brookfield added 15 new channels that share brand and thought leadership messaging that had never been shared before, and also created new cross-collaboration opportunities within the company, creating a new way for the sales and marketing teams to partner and push business forward.
“Connecting with – and providing the appropriate messaging to – a target audience is any leasing team’s primary challenge. The social selling program not only alleviates one of my team’s primary pain points, but it has created a platform that will continue to push our business forward in the years to come.”
Erin McCarthy, VP, Retail Development
“Having a structured social selling program has been great for our team – not only are we able to create a little online portfolio to feature past clients we’ve worked with, but it’s also been a great opportunity for proactive canvassing and lead generation.”
Mollie Wheeler, National Strategic Partnerships