Oxford Properties Group defines the future of retail malls with all eyes on social

How the real estate investment and property management company adapts physical space experiences to connect with customers on digital.

"We shape places that move people. Places that inspire. Places that enrich cities – where people can live, work, learn and play." This is the ethos of Oxford Properties Group, a company with operations in real estate investment, development, and property management. With shopping centers, food markets, and even amusement parks across Canada under their retail portfolio, the avenues for inspiring content activations are nearly endless. 

So how can a company that works in the physical space adapt and make social media the go-to place for brand experiences? We caught up with Sharon Kim, the Manager of Social Media & Digital Content - National Retail Marketing about the company’s approach to marketing and branding across digital channels.

Customers are the main focus with central dashboards

Prior to 2020, customers were interacting in-store, as well as calling and emailing. There weren’t that many messages on social media. Sharon shares how all that has changed: "Now we see so much more demand for social. Really, all eyes are on social, even from our leadership team. It’s very important we are taking it where we want it to go. What is the future of retail malls? We can prove that point through the social media customer experience," said Sharon.

With its fair share of the unexpected to manage, Oxford Properties Group must be able to easily and clearly communicate with customers, wherever they are. Having visibility of their communities and complete control over communication from one central platform has been key. Sharon said:

"Social is driving the conversation, especially right now when our teams can't physically be there with customers. And our portfolio of shopping malls is vast. We are using Emplifi Social Marketing Cloud for communication about new curbside pick ups, safety protocols, and more. It helps us ensure we are putting out content and managing our communities on a regular basis."

Metrics from Q4 2020 alone show the increased reach of Oxford Properties’ social media and the necessary role it plays:

  • Engagement: +14%

  • Average reach per content piece: +20%

  • Number of shopping centres requiring content coordination: 14

To make the right decisions, Oxford Properties Group embraces a data mindset. Analytics and performance dashboards bring visibility to projects, helping everyone stay synced and tuned into emerging best practices.

"Emplifi has helped us show our teams what specific elements and benchmarks to track to push forward," said Sharon. "Everyone has visibility into the dashboards, which are shared on a biweekly basis."

Leadership is also looped into performance across all properties. "We also share performance dashboards with senior brand managers who oversee properties regionally," added Sharon. "We can see on a national level who, across the 10 shopping centers, is really performing well, looking at metrics such as Interactions per 1,000 fans to assess performance on a fair basis."

Shared workspaces bring teams closer together

Beyond a centralized reporting structure, teams also need a common workspace to help build smooth, streamlined - and flexible - processes. When Sharon moved from a shopping center role to the national team, creating this homebase for the teams was a major priority.

"I knew the tool we previously had wasn’t enough to have our daily needs met," said Sharon. "In the national role, I wanted to set that new standard for the rest of the shopping centers. We partnered with Emplifi because there are so many platforms and portfolios for us to manage. On a national level, it helps us group everything together and see what everyone is working on. From a center level, these teams have the access and the capability to do what they need to do on a daily basis."

To keep the content output regular and meaningful, the brand makes use of Emplifi’s shareable content libraries that everyone at the local level can draw from. Bringing the best ideas and assets to the table, the national team can ensure a cohesive strategy, while still allowing creative freedom at the center level. This combination has proven successful, even when 2020 content plans had to be more reactive. 

Moving from planning to execution, a central editorial calendar brings visibility to all scheduled posts, allowing teams to better collaborate and build off of each other. While campaign planning must remain flexible in many ways, Sharon shares the vision of future operations:

"Content is king, and that's what our team strives to do. But it’s a bit of a challenge. Ideally, we want to get back to creating content for a wider purpose. Emplifi’s Content Collections continue to help us be prepped for that, rather than working on the go." 

A trusted technology partner enables future growth

As they look to the future, Oxford Properties Group teams work closely with Emplifi to define their priorities for 2021 to drive business results. The strategy for 2021 includes some important additions to their workflow. "We want to see how we can grow our social media listening for 2021, seeing everything that happened in 2020," said Sharon. 

Navigating the changing digital landscape, it’s important for the company to have a trusted support system by their side to provide expertise and enable growth. Sharon shares her experience with the Emplifi team and the tailored growth programs built just for them. "It always helps having our customer success manager, Ethan, around, as we do have a lot of people on our team and a lot of questions coming in. It’s a pleasure working with him and the wider support team; they are quick to give us support and feedback."