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Georgia mall uses SMS to promote new site

The Mall at Stonecrest in Lithonia, GA, has become the first mall in the state to launch a social networking site that it promoted via an SMS campaign.

Shoptopia is a social networking site developed to connect shoppers with other individuals interested in fashion and shopping along with retailers that want to connect directly with consumers. The Mall at Stonecrest partnered with the MallFinder network to launch a SMS campaign through radio and in-store media promoting Shoptopia to consumers.

"Shoptopia was developed to allow shoppers to connect with others that have an interest in fashion and shopping and allow them to interact with national retailers to receive special offers and discounts," said Donald Bieler, marketing director at the Mall at Stonecrest.

"We are trying to connect the brick and mortar consumer with the online community," Mr. Bieler said. "I think it would be very similar to a Facebook that's all about shopping and fashion."

While networking via Shoptopia, users can share insight and product reviews across a community of shoppers and receive special discounts and offers, redeemable at the Mall at Stonecrest.

The Mall at Stonecrest's SMS campaign involves a call-to-action in the shopping center and on 95.5 FM the Beat where consumers will be asked to text the keyword SHOPTOPIA to the shortcode 68632.

On July 25 from 11:00am to 3:00pm, the mobile call-to-action will be put to work at the Mall's Back to School Concert in conjunction with 95.5 FM, the local radio station.

Users who text in during this time have the chance to win gift cards from the Mall at Stonecrest and gift items with the Shoptopia logo to support the launch.

Prizes will be given away on the hour, every hour during the promotion.

The Mall at Stonecrest claims that Shoptopia will help build relationships with customers and provide them with relevant information about the retailers and promotions they are interested in.

The greatest hope for the shopping center in this endeavor is to translate the online shopping experience into a trip to the mall for people who love the in-store experience.

Shoptopia has already been launched in three other locations such as Virginia, Nevada and California and is now set to be launched nationwide.

Currently, Shoptopia is an online-only social network but the Mall at Stonecrest has big plans to go mobile in the future.

In the coming months, Shoptopia will be fully optimized as a mobile Web site as will, so that consumers can enjoy the perks of the social network while shopping in the stores.

"It's a great opportunity for us to see the difference in response rate from radio listeners and the thousands of 12-25-year-olds at the back to school concert," Mr. Bieler said.

"Not only is it a new and exciting opportunity for me to experience the excitement of my first mobile campaign, but it will be interesting to see the response rate we'll receive," he said. "That demographic we're targeting is really into texting, so I'm expecting a really successful result."