Lessons in engagement from Vicar Lane Shopping Centre

Like all shopping centres across the UK, Chesterfield’s Vicar Lane closed its doors and non-essential retail outlets in late March 2020. This was likely followed by some extensive head scratching by the management team who were now tasked with keeping the centre front of mind in the community, despite being closed for an indefinite period. Tricky.

They quickly recognised that their bustling social media channels were still the place to be, so the centre started to use their accounts to stay connected to customers, highlight its independent retailers’ online offerings, and drive engagement with inspiring initiatives to support the NHS. In addition, the centre has offered contests and activities for its shoppers to engage with remotely, ensuring they have stayed in front of mind in a positive manner within the area.

We’ve taken a look at how Vicar Lane has continued to engage customers and maintained its positive reputation within the local community across social media, despite having its doors closed due to COVID-19.

How do people feel about Vicar Lane?

Since social distancing measures were introduced, and the centre closed its doors to all but essential shopping trips, Vicar Lane has maintained high levels of positivity.

Through the period March 21 to May 18 2020, the centre continued posting content for its audience, continued engaging the local community, and has done so in a way that has generated positive feelings.

The centre ran Easter initiatives that encouraged its community to discuss their favourite Easter treats, which earned it the most positive sentiment for the period on March 23.

Supporting local

The centre plays home to lots of independent retailers. Vicar Lane has ensured its social media content has supported these local businesses, sharing positive updates and encouraging online trade.

Turning blue

On April 2, the centre turned itself blue to show support for the NHS and front line workers which further inspired positive feedback from local people at home.

Staying positive

By ensuring they were communicating relevant and inspiring messages despite being closed, Vicar Lane have consistently maintained positive levels of conversation through the lockdown period.

The Maybe* How they feel report detailing the sentiment of the conversation about Vicar Lane.

How to explore and interpret this data for yourself in Maybe*

The Maybe* how they feel report shows the reaction to content within any conversation topic. It's a great tool for sifting and getting an overview of the general feeling towards a brand or topic within that conversation.

Your How they feel report allows you to understand the sentiment of your conversation and any conversation you're listening to. You can identify negative and positive reactions within any conversation, search by date, and click through to see the content behind the report. This will allow you to capitalise on praise and reward brand advocates, and respond to customer pain points promptly, resolving their concerns, and improving your overall service.

Key takeaway

While not being able to welcome shoppers to the centre, Vicar Lane has not been deterred from conversing with customers and tenants alike. It has demonstrated care and empathy for the local community. By keeping its finger on the pulse of the public mood, creating content that serves customers well, Vicar Lane has enjoyed the benefits of a positive reputation in the process.

Maybe* is a collaborative social media management platform that provides engagement tools,  actionable insights, reports and access to training that enables organisations to make social media work for them.