How @melrosearch can become awesome and even allow photography

I had a couple thoughts at about 4am this morning after I put our son back down to sleep. Most of those thoughts were ways that Melrose Arch might find useful and which may just help build a little community of fans about the shopping district (in retrospect, it is a little more than just a shopping mall – shopping district sounds a little more appropriate). Of course I am going to preface this email by saying that I am just a blogger and a lawyer, hardly the social media experts advising Melrose Arch, but there is a chance that I might have a useful idea here and there.

One of the reasons why photography is banned at Melrose Arch seems to be that people were taking photos there for use in adverts or otherwise for commercial use. Those uses were presumably problematic for a variety of reasons so the Powers That Be banned all photography unless permission was expressly given. An example of that sort of permission is the form I had to fill in last year.

Touring the new section at Melrose Arch - 16

If you visit the Melrose Arch website it quickly becomes clear that Melrose Arch is intended to be a lifestyle destination (I made this point in my previous post). Melrose Arch also has its Twitter profile and Facebook page, both have fairly anemic followings considering the organisation behind them.

I may be getting a little carried away with Melrose Arch’s appeal but there must be other people who find the district visually appealing and would love to know more about it. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much attention given to the architecture, the philosophy behind the development or any of that stuff on the site. Melrose Arch has offered me a media pass to take photos and I was invited to join a walk-around but I kept thinking there must be a more sustainable way to make this sort of thing available to all tourists, local and foreign.

This is the part where I actually get to my suggestions. Here goes:
What if Melrose Arch’s security approached people taking photos and gave them a card that –

  • thanked them for their interest in Melrose Arch;
  • encouraged them to share their photos and videos with family and friends (not for commercial use of course) and even asked them to tag their content with something like “melrosearch” so other people could discover their content;
  • pointed out that commercial photography and filming may only be done with permission from the managing agents and how/where to get that permission;
  • informed the tourist about Melrose Arch’s Twitter profile, Facebook fan page and website and encouraged them to follow, join and visit (they could even submit their photos and videos to the fan page); and
  • perhaps even had a QR code on the card that linked to a site or special offer of some kind for tourists (perhaps 10% off a coffee at any of the local spots serving coffee by displaying the voucher on the mobile phone the QR code links to).

But wait, there’s more. Melrose Arch should take over its Google Maps listing and add more interesting or relevant information like shopping times, profile and site links and more. It could even encourage its tenants to do the same with their Google Maps listings and add to the body of entries for businesses and retail in the district. Imagine if more people added reviews like the one I added?

I didn’t see any links to or mention of Melrose Arch’s Twitter profile or Facebook page on its website. Shouldn’t there be prominent badges on the landing page or something? This one is a little obvious so I am sure Melrose Arch’s agency is working on something already. Another suggestion is to include a dynamic news stream on the “Press Room” page to include mentions across the social Web, as well as mainstream media mentions. Granted there may well be negative mentions but if Melrose Arch manages to cultivate a community of fans, that stream will be a pretty effective way for its fans to share their experiences in a location potential visitors are going to look.

Other suggestions include Melrose Arch shooting videos with people involved behind the scenes like the architect/s, designers, featured tenants and so on which can be posted on YouTube (or various locations) so visitors can find out more about decisions that were taken when developing parts of the district or the symbolism of a particular piece of architecture. That sort of thing. What about a series of sms short codes that give tourists easy access to snippets of information about these same features as they are walking through the district. I’ve seen a phone in version of that in and around Sandton. The idea here is to engage curious tourists on the ground, while they are immersed in their Melrose Arch experience.

All of this is in addition to Melrose Arch’s social media outreach which should include monitoring and commenting on blog posts, tweets, Facebook mentions, photos uploaded to Flickr and PicasaWeb, videos uploaded to a variety of video sharing sites and more. Melrose Arch’s current social media initiatives are a good start but it can do more. It would also be beneficial if Melrose Arch people would engage too. It isn’t clear whether someone actually working there is involved in the Twitter profile and Facebook fan page or whether those profiles are being maintained by its agency. The former is more authentic and more interesting. The latter is just another PR channel.

There seems to be so much Melrose Arch can do to engage more meaningfully, crowdsource its marketing and awareness campaign and build some buzz about itself as a destination. These are just a couple ideas that popped into my head in the early hours of the morning. I am sure the pros can come up with even more amazing ideas that don’t even have to cost all that much! The real question is whether Melrose Arch recognises the possibilities and has the will to do something to achieve them?

Paul
Enthusiast, marketing strategist, writer, and photographer. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad. Allergic to stupid

  1. Great points Paul. I think many companies under-estimate the power or Twitter and other SM opportunities

  2. Nice commentary Paul. We so often complain but never offer solutions to the problems that plague us on a daily basis.

    In addition to all your suggestions I'd say a Flickr pool would be great as well. Instead of kicking photographers out rather use them the @MelroseArch's advantage by having a photo competition.

  3. Thanks Saul. I don't know why I am so obsessed with Melrose Arch and its photography policy at the moment but I had to get these suggestions out there in case Melrose Arch is listening and the suggestions can help in some way.

  4. Spot on again Paul! Some excellent suggestions here for the Melrose Arch team, that would definitely do wonders for their profile both for locals and visitors.

    I think this does get back to something in Groundswell (which you mentioned earlier) that companies approach this space back-to-front – ie they focus on tools before strategy. A well thought-out strategy would have covered most of these bases before a Facebook or Twitter account was even opened.

    All is not lost though and lets hope someone from MA is actually listening.

    As another suggestion to your list they should seriously start looking at making use of Foursquare too 🙂

  5. Thanks Peter. There are so many options available to them at the moment and they cost very little in money terms. It all really depends on how much they want to engage with visitors.

  6. Hi Paul … I came across your blog and posts on photographing in malls/ public spaces, due to an issue I recently had ….

    Having been through the don't take photographs without permission scenario, I contacted Montecasino for permission to photograph on their piazza – the open air area where kiddies run around and people relax and enjoy the fresh air. I was told by a rather rude lady that photographing at the Monte is not allowed! Period!!! I explained that I see it happen all the time … and after much debate, she told me that I am most welcome to photograph with my cellphone camera if I so wish ….. alrighty then ….

    I have also been told by security at Melrose, that I may not photograph (granted without permission), however (whispered) if I have a cellphone camera, that is OKAY?!?! Smacks of double standards ….. I too am a blogger and (unless there is a valid reason not to) I always give details of the place/ name/ link etc.etc. so in my mind it's a win-win .. I get the image, the place get's free publicity ….. sadly this is not the stance taken by the likes of Melrose and Monte etc.etc. a missed opportunity if you ask me, but alas …

    Sandton Sq.? Well I asked for permission and was told to email details and complete a form (am in the process of doing that … let's see), but expressly told that I am NOT allowed to photograph the statue (of Nelson) ??!?!?!?!?! only people with cellphone and small P&S's are allowed – what?!?!?!

    So why my comment … well my fury is really around the fact that we are close to a world event, where there are going to be hundreds if not thousnads of people with cameras (SLR's and P&S) wanting to “shoot” everyone/ everything in sight … how in hell are they going to handle this?! Surely this is going to lead to further double standards i.e. over that period anyone can do what they like OR people are going to be reprimanded leaving them with a bad view and experience in South Africa.

    Gena

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