Coke admits social media alone isn't worth weight in gold...

By Ben BOUCKLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Social media, Coca-cola, Marketing

'Showgirl' characters from 'Coke Chase 2013', one of the firm's novel integrated campaigns run across multiple media
'Showgirl' characters from 'Coke Chase 2013', one of the firm's novel integrated campaigns run across multiple media
Coca-Cola says its much reported internal study suggesting that social media does not ‘pull its weight’ in business terms is true, but only when such digital campaigns are taken in isolation…

Discussing her own company’s study in a Coca-Cola Company blog post, Wendy Clark, senior vice president, integrated marketing communications, said that today’s progressive marketers knew better.

Eric Schmidt, senior marketing strategy and insights manager at Coke, reportedly told an Advertising Research Foundation conference in New York Monday that when Coke plugged ‘buzz sentiment data’ into analytical software, it didn’t see a statistically significant link between buzz and short-term sales.

But despite only identifying a 0.01% sales lift, according to AdAge​, Schmidt urged caution regarding the study’s results, and said that Coke’s analytical software struggled to assess whether buzz sentiment (e.g. on social media messages) was positive or negative.

Coke also needed better metrics to decide how many people it reached to best assess social media ROI, he said.

Reach, engagement, love, value

Meanwhile, Clarke said Coke needed multiplatform campaigns that fused social media, TV, mobile and experiential channels.

She added: “It’s the combination of owned, earned, shared and paid media connections – with social playing a crucial role at the heart of our activations – that creates marketplace impact, consumer engagement, brand love and brand value.”

Coke had known this for some time, Clarke said, where its global toolkit for the London Olympics Move to the Beat ​campaign (here is one video​) included 60 different types of content activated across 110 countries.

‘Reach, engagement, love and value’ were the markers of success Coke uses for its campaigns, Clark said, and it measured these in a variety of ways via its media partners.

“In beta testing with Facebook, we’ve been able to track closed-loop sales from site exposure to in-store purchase with very promising initial results that are above norms for what we see with other media.”

Integrating multiple screens

No single media was as strong as media in combination, Clark said, pointing to Coke’s campaigns integrating TV and social.

“We know our target consumers, teens and young adults, are consuming media on multiple screens in single sessions. This means the TV is on, a laptop is open and a smartphone is in hand.”

Thus, marketers needed to ensure a single, integrated communication across these screens – for instance Coke Chase 2013​, which fused social, digital and mobile – Clark added, stating that when this was done properly it created “significantly higher impact”​ than any one screen in isolation.

Integrating so many moving parts in real time, and with a constantly changing brand dialogue wasn’t easy, she said.

Clark added: “These are new skills and capabilities, and we don’t always get it right. But we’re trying, we’re learning.”

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