Leeds Digital Conference 2012

  • PR
  • Social Media

Last Friday Tom and I attended the Leeds Digital Conference. I’ve never been to one of those before so the whole day was new to me and really interesting! Here is a relatively short summary of the most memorable pieces of advice I learned from the day, although some of the following advice may conflict with each other.


SOCIAL MEDIA: Dom Burch, Head of PR and Social media @ Asda

According to Dom, the old rules don’t apply anymore. Being a supermarket giant like Asda, it is a media owner in its own right. Having its own magazine, website and radio station (which actually has more listeners than Radio 1 and 2!), ASDA’s press office don’t have to work too hard to “put a spin on things” to gain national coverage – they can target their most important audience when they visit the shop and website online.

Dom said: “People look at Facebook and say “Wow, how can I use this to sell more to people?” – This isn’t the right attitude; people don’t like being sold to! For this reason, ASDA is not a collector of fans, but a connector and it will only succeed if it wins the trust of its customers. They wish to connect customers with the brand and with each other, creating a community atmosphere. I found a great example of this here.

How to gain trust:

  1. Listen to what is being said (by customers and staff)
  2. Engage with your publics and understand their queries. Show that you are connecting with them
  3. Influence – listen to your customers, gain trust and demonstrate that you act on their needs. Through this connection you will therefore become influential and prove your leadership within the market. So far this year Asda’s Facebook fans have helped choose a new fashion range for George, found the new face of the Asda Baby and Toddler Club and have even helped name a new variety of runner bean!

Asda currently use an Online Reputation Booth to monitor social media and to listen to what their customers are saying. This monitoring tool helps Asda to spot issues that need prompt action, and can identify trends that may initiate business developments.

By using emotional content, they are able to get inside the minds of their customers and learn their true motivations and sentiments. Photos they have posted in the past like this bring a sense of nostalgia and sentiment, which may then be associated with the Asda page.

Perhaps a more traditional use of market research was when Asda asked their parent customers “what is wrong with our trolleys?” Although this looked like a mistake because of all the negative feedback, it actually gained great insight into customer thoughts and helped them improve the quality to customer needs.


MEANINGFUL DATA: Dean Vipond from Dean Vipond Brand and Interaction Design

Dean started his talk by explaining what a Scrobbler was. If you don’t know already, a Scrobbler is somebody who records their musical activity on Last FM. This may seem like an odd introduction, but it will become clear soon:

So why did Dean record so many songs (over 43,000 to be exact)?

  • It’s quite interesting to know how many times you have listened to certain songs in your Scrobbler life and how your preferences in music have changed
  • Social broadcasting – it’s addictive and egotistical – showing the world what you listen to proves that you really do listen to cool music!!

And why did Dean end his Scrobbling career?

  • It doesn’t give a real representation of everything he listens to – what he listens to on Last FM may be different to his iPod, in the kitchen, or while browsing the internet
  • It was probably only him who visited the page, he knew all his friends and so they already knew what music he listens to anyway
  • Who actually cares!?!

With social networks such as Last FM, we can gain a lot of data – but with very little meaning. Dean explained that we need to balance these ratios.

The difference with an app like Instagram is that it helps you notice the smaller things in life. Through looking at a user’s photo stream, you can see their life through their photos and see what kind of person they are. This is a digital legacy that’s worth hanging on to.

You may gain very little data but it holds a lot of meaning. Another great website to visit is Dear Photograph.

From this website, you’d learn something about a person’s life and memories. This is much more valuable than a check-in on Foursquare.

We should be more interested in stories, not stats.


DESIGN: Andy Smith – Spotify, Web developer

Andy Smith, Spotify’s web developer came in to talk about Design and how Spotify’s corporate structure helps to make it flourish.

Spotify’s design culture is based on four core values:

  1. Think it, build it, ship it, tweak it
  2. Give it everything you’ve got
  3. Play fair – be open to share
  4. Go big or go home

Unlike a lot of other large music brands, Spotify has an open-flat corporate structure. Employees across the board are not intimidated by talking to the founder – they are encouraged to speak up and share ideas.

Spotify’s structure is made up of squads (or in other words, departments) and its bosses haven’t felt the need to change their structure to a “big company” structure which often generates more admin and time wasted getting work ‘signed off’. All employees will receive responsibility for their ideas which in turn makes the result happen much quicker. According to Andy, effective design will determine its success – so make sure you plan correctly.

Also, have you tried FIKA – a business meeting with cake? Apparently it’s amazing! A bit of cake can do wonders for creativity and bring the best ideas out of staff.

WEB: Elizabeth Sanderson, Web Product Owner @ Leeds City Council

Elizabeth started her talk by stating how about 5% of Leeds City Council’s website pages were never viewed. This stat, along with other disappointing web stats prompted the council to restructure the website. Following from its success, here are a few pointers she gave:

  • Structure your entire site by customer demand
  • Remove all unused pages – if someone really wants some specific information that’s not on the site they can ring and ask!
  • Condense your website’s content and save your customers’ time
  • Make sure the homepage doesn’t reflect internal demand – always think about what the customer wants to do on the homepage
  • Make the whole website more accessible so they can find the information they need

All in all, the day was brilliant, really interesting and educational. I’m quite a digital newbie so I went with an open mind and received a great induction. #LDC2012 was trending fifth in the UK at around 12pm, demonstrating how influential the speakers were. Thanks to everyone who organised and spoke during the day!