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Coke can, by poolie on FlickrRecently we’ve been looking more and more at the online performance of brands, which is increasingly key to success in a multichannel world.

Historically, many FMCG brands have not considered their products as being relevant for the internet, and certainly not in terms of e-commerce. It is understandable. Nobody really visits Google to find a place to buy a Coke. 

Nevertheless, the brand owners spend countless millions, and in some cases billions, on multichannel advertising campaigns. Partly because they have to, and partly because they can.

But here’s the truth of the matter: many ad campaigns aren’t delivering what they should be because budgets aren't being invested into digital channels to encourage (and capture) engagement.

All too often the internet (and mobile) is a last-minute thought, when it should be built into a campaign at the outset. More than that, it should now be hardwired into marketing strategies by default.

Until relatively recently, there wasn’t too much cross-channel promotion going on in ad campaigns. And - given how much large campaigns cost - it infuriates me whenever I see TV ads that don’t bother to include a dedicated URL, or when TV ads aren’t supported by paid search campaigns. It seems like such a waste.

While Coca Cola (the world’s top global brand) would not want to buy paid search ads to drive individual product sales, you might think it would be doing this to supporting its ‘massive multi-million pound integrated marketing campaign’, which is based on a new ‘Hello You’ TV ad featuring Duffy. I can’t see any evidence of PPC ads (for terms like ‘Duffy ad’, ‘Duffy Coke ad’, ‘Hello You’ or even ‘Coke Zone’).

Nobody goes to Google without intent and something has to trigger that intent. TV ads can be that something.

Engagement is key

As I mentioned, we’ve been researching how brands use the web, and specifically we’re keen to see how they engage with consumers. This brings us into the joyous world of ‘social media’, as ‘engagement’ is the mantra of social media wizards all over the world. 

By becoming closer to your people (your market) you can engender trust and support, leading to – hopefully - brand evangelism. This is key to extracting more bang from your marketing buck. 

Word of mouth and referrals can be driven by advertising campaigns, and by having a great product or service. On top of that, we’ve also found that interaction goes an awfully long way towards driving further engagement / evangelism / loyalty / sales.

Econsultancy’s recent exploits with Twitter, for instance, shine a light on what can be achieved. 

In the past day or so Econsultancy has been mentioned more than 50 times on Twitter, often by other people who are pointing to - and therefore recommending - Econsultancy content (blog posts, research reports, and so on). Small beer, for sure, but remember that we’re a niche brand operating in a niche space. For us this is great. 

Note too that we’re also active on Twitter. We’re listening, and we’re interacting. Unlike Coca Cola, which doesn’t ‘own’ its own brand on Twitter, and doesn’t appear to be active (unless I’m missing something). 

Coca Cola has been caught snoozing, it seems. Both ‘Coke’, ‘DietCoke’ and ‘CokeZero’ have been snapped up on Twitter, and not by the brand owner by the looks of it. I’m not sure what the rules are on brandsquatting here, but it just goes to show that if you’re not properly switched on in this area then it might hurt you (especially when these sites suddenly head into the stratosphere, as Twitter has done recently). 

Can you hear me knocking?

Despite this lack of interest the word ‘Coke’ has appeared more than 1,000 times on Twitter in the past 24 hours. Meanwhile ‘Diet Coke’ has appeared more than 250 times. People are also talking about the new ‘Coke ads’. And people simply ‘love Coke Zero’.

But what is Coca Cola doing about it? Not enough, and I for one cannot understand why. After all, this sort of chatter can provide brands and brand owners with some brilliant testimonial fodder.

At the current time, the vast majority of activity on Twitter relating to the Econsultancy brand is positive, which is great. When negative comments arise we’re on top of it pretty quickly. And as such we’re about to promote this Twitter activity on our own site. It helps generate trust in our brand.

We will do this in three ways:

  • Firstly, we’ll add a widget that will display a feed of all discussion on Twitter featuring the word ‘Econsultancy’. This is a kind of reputation monitoring feed that our readers (and my colleagues) can see. 
  • Secondly, we’ll aggregate all Econsultancy staff that have Twitter accounts (myself, Ashley, Linus, Graham, etc) and predominantly tweet about the internet industry. This will be ‘the voice’ of Econsultancy on Twitter.
  • Thirdly, we will find all tweets that discuss our blog posts, and display them underneath the comments section on a post. For example, this article on SEO and site migration has seen a lot of action on Twitter. There’s a Wordpress plug-in called ‘Tweetbacks’ that does something similar, and has coined a brilliant terms since essentially this is ‘Twitter trackbacks’ for Wordpress bloggers. Sadly we’re not using Wordpress, otherwise we’d just grab that.

So hark, brand managers!

  1. Forget about 'selling' via the web and start engaging with people, if you’re not already. All kinds of brands and products can do this (there are few that cannot). Promote engagement where you can, and help people to help you. 
  2. Forget about demands for a 'single currency'! Ugh! Measurement isn't the problem if you're not watching, and there's more to life than display ads. Stop ducking the issue and get involved.
  3. And whatever you do, forget about thinking of the web as a one-way direct response channel, when it is so much more than that. It may be the biggest shopping mall in the world, but it is also the biggest watercooler / playground / bar / debating forum. 

Heads up!

Chris Lake

Published 11 February, 2009 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (9)

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Robin Grant

Robin Grant, Global Managing Director at We Are Social

Hey Chris

So you mean you'll do exactly what We Are Social is already doing?

;)

over 7 years ago

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Neil Kleiner

Hey Chris,

Great post but its exactly this kind of pov that is panicking brands into acting stupidly within social media spaces. Can you imagine the panicked board meetings in Coke head office, "Oh god, stephen Fry is on Twitter..so is MC Hammer..Coke HAS to be on there too...quick!"

Er...no.  Brands have to carefully evaluate the WHY in everything.  How is this going to add to my brand and how is it going to improve the experience of my consumers.

Coke and many other big brands have got their eyes on Twitter for sure...but sensible brands will act when the time is RIGHT..not just becuase everyone else is.  The sky isn't falling.  Don't panic.

Yeah they MAY have lost out on Coke Twitter domains but thats not the end of the world to them really is it?

And Don't forget, Twitter, whilst brillaint is still WAY WAY WAY behind the likes of Facebook and Myspace in terms of reach.  It is just taking off, let alone heading into the stratosphere. 

Coke has the worlds biggest Facebook Fan Page which is growing by 30,000 people a day ...maybe they are just concentrating on the bigger fish for the time being.

thanks,

Neil

over 7 years ago

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Worlds Top Brands

Great post, and interesting comments by Neil. I saw a Web 2.0 Site aied at discussing the Worlds top brands, and of course coke and many other popular brands have been already added to the site http://www.worldstopbrands.com/

over 7 years ago

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pilar

the point is whether is there a point for a brand to be everywhere or just be where their consumers need it / makes sense for them to be there, instead of just setting up profiles for the sake of it. 

Dell is a great example of how a brand can use twitter, but they have a reason to be there: customer service. Does Coke need to be in Twitter atm? not sure. Having a quick search I can see that most of the tweets mentioning Coke (or Coca Cola) are things like this one "It has taken two coffees and half a bottle of Coca Cola to stay awake".

Maybe brands should also leave some space for users to actually use social media for what it was made for: socialising and sharing.

over 7 years ago

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Gareth Dix

lets not forget coke didn't own it's own brand on facebook until they were forced to because of the increasing size of the group...

social media is a strange one for many large corporations because as was mentioned above they either leave it too long and miss it or jump in without knowing what they're getting into and doing more harm than good.

do people trust these big corporate brands in their own personal space, it's almost like letting someone into your home, which is fine if it's someone you're aquainted with and want to hear their opinion on something, but if a company salesman came to my door and tried to enforce their views of their product on me i'd have to kick them out.

Consumers are much smarter now, and maybe companies like coke realise this and would rather let their consumers get on with twitter to free up their budget to create work that people will want to tweet about?

over 7 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Thanks for the comments.

@Neil - I know what you mean but the intention isn't to panic anybody, and I agree that it needs to be done in the right way. As Gareth says, Coca Cola moved to Facebook essentially on the back of user activity, and if that's growing at 30k a day then surely that is viewed as some kind of success? So if FB works why not work with some other channels, including up and coming ones? Maybe they're listening, but I'd be paying somebody to participate too.

@ Pilar - yep, there's definitely an argument for that but then again Twitter saying it might start charging companies to use it, so I don't think brands will go away anytime soon. In any case, and like it or not, marketers tend to follow crowds.

Cheers,

c.

over 7 years ago

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sheppy

I agree with Neil and I made a similar comment on the marketing pilgrim blog about it. Twitter is probably small compared to the marketing work that the coke marketing teams work on. When you've got a brand as important and as big as coke, you have to be pretty darn careful when you represent it.

Jumping on the bandwagon with something which probably wouldn't make much of a positive impact to their brand is risky. They can't do everything, and twitter probably isn't a worthwhile priority for them.

Out of interest and to generate some ideas, what do you think they should twitter about?

over 7 years ago

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Malcolm Bastien

Great post.  Can you imagine all the benefits Dell might have lost (and what there still is to lose) if it didn't establish itself on twitter.  Coca Cola might have just done that.  I wonder if anyone will really care to connect with AndrewAtCoke or TheCokePolarBear.  They had so much to talk about with people as well.  Everybody can relate to that experience of opening a can of coke on a hot day or grabbing a coke to have with your favourite meal.

Without that sort of presense pushing that experience, what will people talk about in regards to coke rather than their ads, or the drinking being a very unhealthy sugary and carbonated concoction?

over 7 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Jon - Great spot and very interesting. It is clearly doing some good things in this area, in terms of getting some policies in place, but I reckon it needs more structure. Seems like it will be just a matter of time.

@sheppy - You're right in that bandwagon jumping is to be avoided, and brands shouldn't do things without thinking things through. There are all sorts of applications for Coke on Twitter: a feedback channel, competitions, ad creative, viral seeding, behind the scenes stuff for their events, etc. In any case, I'd personally make sure that I owned my key brand names / trademarks on as many social networking site as I could. It's free and you are protecting the brand from abuse. An intern could set these up. And if the sites become big, or are SEO-friendly, then it's win-win.

over 7 years ago

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