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!