Hmmm baked beans. We Brits love them. On toast, with cheese, between our fishfingers and chips.  But how would these small, pale pulses in tomato sauce impact shares on Facebook for the second largest grocer in the UK?  Dom Burch, Head of Social Media at British supermarket, ASDA recently explained at The Drum Live event in London. The Drum is a marketing multichannel magazine based in the UK, and recently pulled together a full edition of the publication in the space of a single day, in front of an audience of more than 100 delegates.


Talk About What Interests Your Audience

Burch spoke about the importance of being relevant to the audience: “We are a grocer. We sell baked beans and we have to be true to who we are and what we do.” With the majority of ASDA customers in the demographic target mums aged 25-35 years old, Burch explained that to ask the social media audience to do something for you, you need to have “credit in the bank.” “We have to think about what is important to our customers and initiate conversations around these topics. Our mums are interested in buying groceries and they love chocolate, so we initiate questions such as ‘cheese on beans on toast – nom or wrong?’ As a result, we have encouraged our consumers to engage and as a result increased the shares on Facebook and Twitter.”

ASDA got more than 24,000 likes, 5,000 comments, and hundreds of shares from this one conversation, driving the engagement needed to get 15,000 shares on their nappy competition later.


Where is the ROI in Getting Shares on Facebook?

In social media marketing, when the Board is screaming for ROI, it can be hard to imagine why anyone would focus on getting shares on Facebook. You’d be right to question whether it’s a worthy business goal; it’s not! It’s a marketing tactic. Every marketing campaign should have a business goal, like to increase sales. A marketing goal might be to attract new customers and a marketing tactic might be to start a dialogue on Facebook to gain fans among a target group who could become new customers. You’d be forgiven for wondering whether initiating conversations about baked beans is the best use of a brand’s time on social until you saw it as part of a larger marketing strategy. Gaining shares on Facebook is but a marketing tactic, that can lead to the marketing goal of increasing fans who become customers, whose purchases deliver the business goal of increased sales delivering the ROI the Board wants. Get it?

Burch quickly justifies these types of social conversations. “We recently ran a competition on both TV and Facebook where the prize was to win a 12-month supply of nappies. Interestingly, zero people entered the competition from the TV campaign and 45,000 entered on Facebook. Out of this, we received 15,000 shares on Facebook from fans to those they knew would like to know about the competition – our key target audience.” Burch continues, “brands can’t pay for this level of endorsement, and you can’t achieve this unless you start the ball rolling with ten conversations about beans on toast.”


To Gain More Shares on Facebook, Go Mobile!

Earlier this year at the Social Media World Forum event in London, Burch made the sensational statement “websites are dead.” Last week, he explained his reasoning to the Drum audience; that mobile is fast becoming the consumer channel of choice. Indeed, as Facebook’s own publicly filed SEC documents reveal, one in six people access Facebook only from their smartphone. Burch argued that by focusing on a desktop strategy (like a website), companies would be left behind.

According to Burch, marketers should prioritse mobile first, then move towards the website, rather than the other way around. “Websites are simply a comfort blanket,” he argued, “I feel I am having the same conversation now about websites that I did about hard press advertising five years ago.”

So, how do brands manage to build a community of die-hard fans who will circulate all their offers and catapult shares on Facebook? According to Burch the answer is simple – get to know your audience and to stay true to what you do. If you combine those two elements, you’ll build credit in the bank and soon be the brand that got the beans (or an expression that rhymes with that).

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