If we took anything from the exciting session presented at miniSASCon a few weeks back by Dominic Burch (Head of Social Media at ASDA), it was……. #dontbeasocialmediaw@nker

Aside from this interesting introduction, the session saw Dominic recount the journey that the ASDA brand has taken in regards to their their social media activity. ASDA’s customer base is 18 million strong and rather than taking an aggressive acquisition focused stance towards using social media, the business adopted a cautious and progressive approach with the support of their agencies.

How did they do it? We’ve broken down the process below as key learnings, the process and ‘more’.

Key Learnings

  • Be a connector and not a collector. The volume of likes is not what is important. In fact, it’s the quality of the connections and as a result your reach of quality people that is key.
  • Connect with the right people.  Know your customer and be selective in your approach to acquiring these connections.
  • If you are doing things wrong, it will get spotted so hold your hands up. Those that hide fail.

The Process

  • Listen. ASDA reviewed numerous social reports before launching their social media campaigns and while it was obviously too late to react to the findings from the reports when eventually launching,  the importance of this exercise was significant. According to Dominic, Twitter helped ASDA the most during this process, as it is a great forum for listening as well as engaging.
  • Engage. People don’t like to be sold to; 1 in 10 may be influenced by a sales related advert. This means the core message and measurement metric should not be ROI.


  • Target your audience and get their feedback – even before you launch. ASDA, much like many other brands, have in the past received some backlash from TV adverts. To combat this, ASDA released their Christmas advert 2013 on Facebook before TV to ensure it hits the mark with their customers (who matter the most).
  • If there is an issue, take it offline and deal with it before it grows.
  • Promote to customers friends in order to grow.
  • Sometimes it pays to take your social media activities to  the next level. ASDA’s social team worked with the marketing team to understand what the daily cost of targeting their customers through one days’ worth of press advert was. The suggested cost was around £150k for one day. The social media team then pitched that they could get more measurable engagement with £100k over 6 months so they were given the budget and some guides on measurable impact.


Dominic follows a basic process and methodology towards social media and provided some core techniques that everybody in charge of social media within their business should be aware of:

  • Strategic interactions. These are interactions that relate to ASDA’s stretegic campaigns, such as Halloween promotions, bringing back iconic products or even offering delivery passes on social media.
  • Tactical/responsive interactions. These types of interactions are all about being aware of what is happening around you and being able to react quickly. Examples of this approach includes taking a birthday present and cake to the oldest home shopper customer on their birthday and advertising ASDA’s petrol price cuts. The royal baby being named George was great PR for ASDA, due to their quick reaction.
  • Engaging interactions. These are interactions where ASDA is encouraging the audience to, for example, help chose packaging for a product, chose their favourite bread roll etc. In some cases here ASDA will receive 25k customer responses within an hour.
  • Get creative on Twitter. ASDA has and will continue to be experimental, testing applications such as Twitter cards and Vine videos.
  • YouTube and G+. ASDA continue to develop their Youtube and G+ presence through videos, hangouts and third party relationships on YouTube. ASDA are moving away from using Youtube solely as a platform for hosting their adverts toward working collaboratively with established Youtube personalities. An example of this was ASDA’s ‘Look for Christmas parties’ campaign where they worked alongside Youtube make-up artist Pixiewoo by arranging her to visit her local ASDA to select a look. This video alone received over 300k views.

2014 Trends

Dominic finished his presentation by referencing his ‘Dirty Dozen’; a list of likely trends in 2014:

  1. The resurgence of advertorial.
  2. Utilising employee advocacy – start internally and converse with social and without email.
  3. Engaging content will be rewarded.
  4. The age of advocacy. Let people share the content and ensure the sharing of it is done by those that it are relevant to you and your brand.
  5. Pay to play. There is limited value in just posting updates and offers organically so sometimes you need to look at posnsored opportunities.
  6. The ‘Millennials’ (or ‘the on-demand generation’) will fuel even more video sharing.
  7. The death of the Social Media Manager as it should be part of everything a marketing team department does.
  8. Social organisations will be the winners – Twitter and Facebook etc.
  9. Immediate response required. Customers that want to talk expect to be listened to.
  10. The growth in gamification. Dominic’s example here of his ‘spot the difference’ campaign with the snowman that had 80k people getting involved.
  11. Influence content creators and monetise their position by arranging parties/get togethers etc.
  12. Stronger interplay with social and TV. Be relevant and where your customers are.