SYDNEY: Social no longer works as a content marketing channel, according to a leading industry figure who described it as "a red-hot mess" of brand communications.

Damien Cummings, CMO of Philips, the lighting and consumer electronics business, didn't spare his own company from that assessment.

"If you look at Philips on social right now the first post is about lighting, the next could be about new X-Ray machine, then something corporate about a new office opening," he told AdNews.

And that can only be confusing for customers: "if you start to push thousands of bits of content through there it's going to become a red-hot mess," he said.

Consequently, there is little incentive for people to return in search of content. "You're dealing with a graveyard of likes from people who have entered a competition and never gone back," Cummings declared.

Few brands have properly thought about the value proposition of their Facebook page, he argued, although in some categories this was now about customer service or sales.

He estimated that for technology brands, 40-50% of what was on social was customer service, rising to 75% for telcos and between 80% and 100% in the case of banks.

"We realise digital is the future, and content marketing is the way forward but we realised that we wanted to own those conversations," he explained as he outlined the company's new approach.

Working with PR firm FleishmanHillard, it set up the Philips Asia Digital Command Centre last year, aiming to use real-time data to help it get the right content in front of people in a timely manner.

And he reported that the centre has helped drive efficiencies in its marketing, achieving a 20% saving on costs while also encouraging its agencies work together more effectively.

PR Week noted a fashion for agencies in Asia to establish such newsroom-style services, bringing together not just writers and editors but also designers, programmers and video producers to analyse media trends and create content in response to news and crises.

"The key mindset is being integrated," said Lynne Anne Davis, president and senior partner at FleishmanHillard. "Storytelling is not only brought to life through words, but also through images, infographics and videos."

Data sourced from Ad News, PR Week; additional content by Warc staff