18 March 2013 - 1:36pm | posted by | 19 comments

Websites are “dead” and content meaningless unless mobile-ready, says Asda’s social chief

Websites must be mobile-ready, says Asda social chiefWebsites must be mobile-ready, says Asda social chief

Brands must look beyond websites to mobile-centric content strategies, according to Asda’s head of corporate communication and social media Dominic Burch.

Speaking at Social Media World Forum in London today Burch said a brand’s content can be rendered meaningless if not mobile-optimised. “Stop thinking about websites - they’re dead – just think about the content and getting that right for mobile.

“For us everything is mobile-first from a content perspective. If it doesn’t work on mobile – go home. If the video doesn’t load, the content doesn’t look right or the photos are too big -if I can’t see it on my mobile devices it’s a waste of time,” he said.

Burch believes social media has become the new form of PR and has flipped the traditional status quo on its head.

“The old rules don’t apply anymore – whether it's Sky News wanting to be first rather than necessarily triple-checking their facts before running it through the news ticker – something has literally gone around the world before you’ve even put your pants on in the morning,” he said.

This raises challenges but brands must accept it whether they like it or not, according to Burch. “Journalists used to give us plenty of time to respond to an information request – now whether or not they have got to the press office phone or not it’s on about 20 websites around the world and being tweeted and retweeted and brands must accept that,” he said.

Burch said the way to gain value from social communities is to focus on connecting with followers or fans rather than collecting new ones alone. “It’s easy for brands, particularly well-known ones, to look at competitors and be mildy jealous if they have more Facebook fans or Twitter followers. But as we all know fans are vanity – it’s about the connections with them that is important. Whether you have five million fans stuck at the top of a Facebook page is completely irrelevant.”

"The way Facebook's algorithm is built content that is not liked no one can see so even if you have 10 million fans if your content is crap no one will see it," he said.

Asda’s social media strategy centres on listening to consumers, engaging and then using that feedback to turn those people into influencers, according to Burch.

It created an Online Reputation Booth (ORB), a dashboard used to help explain to Asda employees how the supermarket was surfacing in people’s conversations via social media, which in turn helped it spot issues and avoid them becoming crises.

“It’s theatre to some extent but sitting behind that theatre are people tagging anything said about Asda – their job was to spot stuff and take it offline. Then they started to spot things that were good conversations, for example around our smart-price chocolate – not a product we would have wanted to shout on broadcast TV or anything but we realised there were a lot of positive conversations happening independently with people saying Asda Smart Price chocolate is better than Galaxy and other brands, and there was all this goodwill we would have been blind to, that instead we could look to harness,” he added.

Asda will now focus on using social media to amplify traditional TV campaigns via dual-screen opportunities, while exploring ways to tie-in the mobile and social customer journey to their in-store experiences, "giving people a reason to take their phones out of their pockets," added Burch.

Comments

18 Mar 2013 - 14:29
ben.sharpley's picture

Pretty aggressive advice that. "Stop thinking about websites, they're dead, go home, everything is just a massive waste of time, your content is crap, you're really vane and completely irrelevant so go jump off the nearest cliff," shouted Burch.

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18 Mar 2013 - 15:07
domburch

@ben.sharpley not quite. But I take your point. I'll be sure to tone myself down next time I'm allowed out. @domburch

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22 Mar 2013 - 00:29
JulioOsar

@ben.sharpley Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online.(Click Home information) http://goo.gl/TIGix

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18 Mar 2013 - 14:51
shaunbent

I fully agree with the sentiment of Dominic's comments regarding websites and mobile devices but the choice of words and how he's phrased his point is not very well considered and to someone without knowledge of the subject could actually be received as bad advice.

The point Dominic is making is that with usage of mobile devices exploding you'd be wrong to not consider how content is experience on a range of device, in this case mobile devices.

Regardless of if you're viewing the content on a £400 laptop, a top of the range £2,000 iMac or the latest smartphone you're still viewing a website. So website's aren't dead. The point is really weather the website has been developed with a mobile/portable experience in mind.

A great article on Smashing Magazine entitled "There is no mobile internet" rightly states:

"It's time to stop thinking about the Internet and online communication in the context of a device, be it desktop, tablet or mobile..."

We should be focusing on "creating seamless online communications — communications that work everywhere" and "forget the idea of a “mobile Internet”. There is only One Web to experience."

(http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2013/02/25/there-is-no-mobile-internet/)

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18 Mar 2013 - 15:29
ben.sharpley's picture

Don't disagree with any of it! Bob on! Definitely admire Dom's passion for the subject - that's serious enthusiasm right there! Boom! @domburch

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18 Mar 2013 - 18:17
filipmatous

Being quotable has its place - but I'm guessing Dominic will feel the backlash of just saying stuff to be controversial.

What's the real story? If you are a business, in most cases you need a website to achieve key business marketing. Just look at what % of your audience views your content with a mobile and then balance out business objectives with the cost to become mobile friendly. IF the investment of time and money is worth the predicted outcome, then business as usual. Same approach with social media - it's a very expensive marketing tool when you add up all the time it needs - so it's not for every biz.

But that would never create a story/headline that people would click on.

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18 Mar 2013 - 18:35
domburch

@filipmatous you're quite right. My point was less about transactional websites and more about building new websites to host content with a pc environment as the starting point. The quality of the content is more important. Got lost a little in translation and because they were already dragging me off the stage as I'd overrun my time slot. Hey ho. I'll learn. Maybe. Dom

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18 Mar 2013 - 18:51
filipmatous

@domburch no worries. I didn't see the presentation so I only get to see the what the journo picks to write about. Using the sensational "WEBSITES ARE DEAD" quote... after all, gotta get those page views. Not that I'm above that or anything, I'd do the same. Probably. ;)

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19 Mar 2013 - 10:07
kev_bulmer

traditional tv campaigns? really? people still go for this stuff?

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19 Mar 2013 - 10:11
cdwalton's picture

The sentiment is spot on so I don't have an issue with confrontational delivery if it gets the message heard. From my perspective, it's eye-opening to see clients starting to take real notice of the mobile perspective as the percentage of non-PC/laptop browsing on their sites continues its inexorable climb

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19 Mar 2013 - 10:14
Craig__Bennett

I think @domburch gives a good wakeup call, particularly to those marketers working for such major brands. But like most marketing news on the web, it's usually focused on large organisations and major brands whereas for myself, this advice doesn't resonate with such urgency when working for a small, niche brand like ours...albeit, global.

'Websites are dead' doesn't really make sense, but like others have said, it's a great headline that has done its job in instigating feedback and comments. The website will still be the content propagator, it just needs to be mobile/tablet responsive, optimised and ready.

I think for supermarkets, this is more important than ever, look at Morrisons reaction to its poor 2012 sales - they're now investing in an eCommerce option for their customers... sorry Morrisons, you're 2 years too late!

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19 Mar 2013 - 11:07
Neilho82567

I think @domburch is in the right place regarding social media. Forget customer complaints lines, etc. if I have a gripe with a brand I am straight on the Facebook page. And as Dom says it works the other way too, as there is love being shared too and companies can see what they are doing right. As for the headline, I read about 1% of the emails that come through Drum. It certainly did its job on me.

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19 Mar 2013 - 21:30
mark_astle's picture

I think as tablets and phones get bigger and higher resolution screens, 'mobile ready' will become a thing of the past. I personally hate hobbled mobile versions of sites, and will always switch to the full desktop version on my phone if the site allows it. Most smartphones now are perfectly capable of showing a website in its entirety. My view is that the tech will catch up with the sites, not the other way around. Because 'responsive' sites are almost always anything but.

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20 Mar 2013 - 11:50
Craig__Bennett

mark_astle interesting point. If you look at the cycle of mobile products since the 90's, Nokia strived to offer the smallest, most compact phone, then as the internet went mobile, phones have increased their size back up to 'brick' status, although much more sleek!

I guess one of the biggest social drivers at the moment is user created video (Vine) and photography (Instagram) and high res, sizeable displays are needed to mediate this.

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20 Mar 2013 - 21:20
nigel_charlesworth's picture

Well, well @domburch, stirring it up again I see. Such a nice, quiet chap when he worked with me at Green Flag. He's right of course, smart phone usage will just grow and grow. The web will be needed by corporates for disclosure but for for engagement and selling - think content that works on mobile screens.

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21 Mar 2013 - 12:18
ruisb48106's picture

Websites are clearly not dead. Goddamn why are people talking about mobile as if it's just happening? Mobile has been around for many years now but it's only just making it into the press. We've been pushing this to our clients for ages! One of our competitors, Mubaloo have been on the case for at least half a decade. In the same way that all this happened when Facebook turned up just over 5 or 6 years ago. This reminds me of people screaming out that 'SEO was dead' as soon as Google Plus came into view. The way people use mobiles and tablets still differ greatly to the behaviour you see when people use desk and laptops.

But to say that websites are dead in one breath and then talk about content being essential is a bit ironic. It's not jsut about your view stats, but what they do on the site. The stats from sites that we take care of clearly show that even though mobile sites are getting a lot of views, the bounce rate is massive and the time spent on sites are nowhere near the time spent on standard desktops. On top of this, we've found that the variance of time interaction spent on e-commerce sites differ MASSIVELY from both each other and standard non e-commerce sites.

Why can't we all just remember that we are very much in the early stages of mobile optimisation as a whole. Websites and desktop viewing isn't, and I'm almost certain, will never be dead. Until the day that people stop using desktops to go on the internet then the behaviour of users at the time of going online are clearly for very different reasons. People viewing sites whilst sat on their lunch break are doing it for different reasons when sat at home in front of the TV. For the same reason, you can tailor your content for both types of audience.

Further to this, the level of responsiveness and interaction of a lot of mobile ready apps and sites at this current point in time are shocking. Plenty of them don't offer the same level of content as their web counterparts and a lot of the time I will find myself going onto the actual main site just to get to the content, so even though I'm accessing through mobile, I'm still just reading their main site by choice. Until the level and quality of content can genuinely match the same level offered by the main website, I don't see this sort of behaviour changing either. And I can't see the content quality changing until the costs of mobile optimising everything starts to go down somewhat. Then by that time, I expect mobile optimisation to be homogenised like social media was. At this point I'm expecting technology will have thrown something else for us to get excited about.

edit: and Facebook's algorithm is a little bit more complicated than that...

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21 Mar 2013 - 22:50
richa14900's picture

Bravo to a PR man gunning to carve a name for himself in the social land-grab. Jeez is that gold rush still going on?? Dangerous claiming Asda is focused on mobile considering much of Asda's online real estate is still desktop only, largely delivering an inconsistent shopping experience across the board. An antiquated ecommerce system and it's way behind that of its competitors such as Tesco. Checkout Currys for one.

Newsflash @domburch, a social hub is an obvious platform for a retail brand these days. No groundbreaking case study there. Surely Asda's social channels should be more seamlessly integrated into the shopping experience. So much more can be achieved. I'd expect Asda to be pioneering social concepts that we haven't even dreamt of.

My view... PR is dying FAST so there's a land-grab for the largely misunderstood medium of social and content marketing from PR professionals such as the talented Monsieur Burch and now... uh oh, they think they know digital.

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28 Feb 2014 - 22:08
JillMarieYoung1

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http://www.fortunecity.com (subdomains expired) http://www.geocities.com (subdomains expired) http://www.hostultra.com (subdomains expired) http://www.cjb.net (subdomains expired)

Have died about 5 years ago

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25 Jun 2014 - 14:07
bazda's picture

Asda have a point although personally 75% of my internet time is spent on desktop/laptop. Maybe when I upgrade my phone the ratio will change.

http://www.asdadirectcontactnumber.co.uk/

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