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


By Jessica Davies, News Editor

March 18, 2013 | 4 min read

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.


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