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Hootsuite and London South Bank University use social media to digitally transform market traders

Just as offline markets aim to offer shoppers more choice, so too do online marketplaces. Image: Goodlux/Shutterstock

Hootsuite, a leading social media management platform, has been working in partnership with London South Bank University (LSBU) and social enterprise Tree Shepherd to provide market traders displaced due to the redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre in London with the skills and tools they need to survive in an increasingly digital and social media-driven world.

Marketing students from LSBU, armed with newly-gained skills from the Hootsuite Academy, have been working with displaced vendors to help digitally transform their businesses.

“COVID-19 has seen social become a key way for businesses to communicate directly with customers, and for Elephant and Castle vendors, who are facing additional challenges, maintaining this communication is vital,’’ explains Eva Taylor, Corporate Social Responsibility Director, Hootsuite. Hootsuite believes in using social for good and supporting these traders through such a challenging time is paramount to us. We are also passionate about educating the next generation of top marketers about the power of social media and helping LSBU students by equipping them with the tools and skills needed to survive and thrive post-university is a step in the right direction.”

The major redevelopment of Elephant and Castle, including the closure of the shopping centre, has meant many traders have had to relocate their long-standing businesses – all whilst battling the impacts of COVID-19. To help them get back on their feet, community enterprise charity Tree Shepherd initiated a partnership between the vendors and LSBU, where its marketing students were learning valuable digital skills via the Hootsuite Academy. The students, under LSBU and Hootsuite’s guidance, have been working with these independent traders as they move premises, empowering them with the tools and knowledge to help them transform their businesses.

“London South Bank University has planted firm roots in the Elephant and Castle area,” says Nicola Hayes, Associate Course Director, LSBU. “I am passionate about partnering with key technology leaders like Hootsuite, and philanthropic agencies like Tree Shepherd, to provide vendors a lifeline in these difficult months and set them up for future success.”

LSBU students have put their degree learnings into practice to provide vendors with real-world, social media-driven marketing tactics. The project includes everything from building and managing social media profiles to advice on business accounting.

One of the displaced vendors, Faye Gomes at Original Kaieteur Kitchen Original, is already seeing the benefits: “Since working with Tree Shepherd and LSBU, I have learnt a lot and managed to grow my business – despite the challenges. Social media is now at the heart of what I do and it’s helped generate more custom. I post daily on my social channels, not only making my business easier to find, but also allowing me to build on those all-important relationships with customers.”

A large part of the project meant the students having access to all Hootsuite Academy courses, enabling them to improve their digital marketing skills and learn from experts. Students also used Hootsuite Amplify, enabling them to create unified content that they could then share immediately across their social media accounts – learning the valuable skill of building and magnifying brand messaging. They then shared all these learnings with the traders to create tailored plans. The students’ coursework is based on the development of these plans and completion of two Academy courses. 

Hootsuite and LSBU have a longstanding partnership, as the university’s Business School manages its social media through the Hootsuite platform. Hootsuite Academy – a social media online learning platform, which has certified over 550,000 people around the globe to date – is also integrated into the university’s marketing curriculum. In addition to using the digital marketing skills earned through Hootsuite Academy courses to help the displaced vendors, LSBU’s students have also gained first-hand, real-world experience in how to build and implement social media strategies, a huge advantage for their future careers.

“One of the best experiences for me was being able to treat the vendors like clients and understand how that relationship works in real life. From the initial call, to creating and implementing a plan with Hootsuite, I have learnt many valuable skills to take with me as I start my career,” says Ellis North BA Marketing student at LSBU. “The job market can be tough for graduates, but I believe having deep knowledge of the Hootsuite tools and how they work will set me apart. I’m continuing to learn beyond this project and have even taken my new skills and used them for personal projects.”

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