A week or so ago Asda introduced The Green Room, a place for ‘colleagues’ to share what’s happening around the business. Not much fanfare that I noticed externally at least that I spotted anyway. What’s interesting is the openness that surrounds the project as wel as how important it is that colleagues have a voice to interact with the business. One thing that seems to be missing is any ability to subscribe by email or RSS so the site will always have to pull readers to it. There are share buttons on posts though so at least it should have some life outside itself.
As many businesses look to embrace social media at least Asda have plunged in with both feet, whilst others prevaricate; mainly I suspect because they don’t know what they’re buying and/or don’t believe it has a part to play in their organisation. I’m pretty certain that (based on the kind of work we’re doing, more than anything else) that it will be the norm for businesses to have a social media presence of some description and more importantly that the people who run this side of marketing are employees who can be authentic about their brand rather than external agencies. Patterns of employment will also have to change. There’s no point having an online presence that clocks off at 5 o’clock.
At least Asda have a catchment audience in their own employees but many organisations seem to think that user generated content (UGC) will play large part in their social media strategy. This seems a rather lazy way out and flawed. After all if you’ve got Facebook, MySpace, Twitter etc why would you go on a forum hosted by any business, it would have to be truly excellent in its own right. Organisations have to come to customers wherever they are, that’s always been the case in retail, and still the case online. Sainsbury’s forum for instance has as of today, 65,691 members but only 134 posts this month, there’s too many other things out there that are better and less brand led.
Another interesting part of Asda’s communication to their employees is that they’ve produced a poster (including a big brother mouse as a bomb, complete with fuse!) which while being rather foreboding at least shows they understand the perils of opening themselved up to the world online.
The posters, watch out for the interweb now …
And also worth looking at how Whole Foods run their whole online presence, as always the US is doing it better: