Coca-Cola North America does more marketing in a day than most of us do in years. And judging by the record, they do it extremely well. At the risk of seeming picayune, here’s some constructive criticism.
Remember Coke’s Great Christmas Can Controversy last year?
As controversies go, this was kind of a yawner. Coke had rolled out a lovely holiday can design. But it upset some Coke fans who thought it looked too much like Diet Coke’s can. (Coke also got a lot of positive reaction. Here’s the Wall St. Journal’s take.)
The hubbub caught Coke off guard. So in reaction mode, Coke looked online for supporters. There, the Coke marketing team ran across the very blog you’re reading now, and this particular post: Three Lessons From A Coke Napkin – which had been posted in May 2011.
My brush with Coke’s awesomeness
On November 29, 2011, at about the height of the “controversy,” I received an email via my blog’s contact page from Traci McDougle, an assistant at the Coca-Cola Company to Katie Bayne, President & GM of Sparkling Beverages at Coca-Cola North America. Traci asked for my mailing address and contact info, for Ms. Bayne.
My blog has never been a huge comment magnet (in spite of help from Bill Dorman, Gini Dietrich and Arthur Germain) so it was quite nice to get an email via my blog from high management at Coca-Cola. Of course, my imagination got the best of me: Maybe she likes the way I think. Maybe she wants to talk. Maybe she has an assignment. Visions of marketing sugar plums ensued. What did she want?
My answer came a few days later via UPS, in a box almost too big to get through the front door. It was a rather large Christmas-themed gift, with a kind note from Ms. Bayne, thanking me for being a fan of Coke’s marketing.
Now, I loved the Coca-Cola swag. And I truly appreciated the gift. But I have to admit, I felt a bit let down.
What does every blogger want?
Coke could have taken a different approach, and with a lot less effort, given me a much bigger thank you.
For a truly social-media savvy response, Ms. Bayne would have simply written her thank-you note as a comment response to my blog post.
For a bigger splash, she could have offered some insider insights or commentary.
To go completely over the top, she could have tweeted it, posted it to Facebook or featured it on a Coke blog.
A comment from the president of sparkling beverages of Coca-Cola North America – helping me get some traction for my blog and maybe a stream of new comments and followers – now that would have been some kind of thank-you. And I would have been forever indebted.
Bruce Cleveland, partner at InterWest Partners, says: Social media strategy needs to include authentic customer engagement and not be viewed and used as yet another one-way digital advertising channel. Later this week, his team will present data to back up his assertion.
The lesson for your business
Don’t just monitor social media when there’s trouble. Monitor it for opportunity.
A blog comment, a retweet or “reply to” on Twitter, or a Facebook comment can go a long way – even if you’re not President of a Major Business Unit representing one the World’s Most Iconic Brands.
It’s more than a chance to address issues. It’s a chance to make friends and fans. A chance to grow your own community by participating in other communities.
Of course if they had sent a Coke-red Christmas Ferrari, I might feel different.
Most large brands are struggling to find their voice in social media.
You don’t have to struggle. You can participate. Do you agree?