By Dr. Elaine Young, Assistant Dean, Division of Business, Professor, Marketing, Champlain College
Coca-Cola gets social. What do I mean by that?
Let’s start by looking at a recent Covario study focusing on the Facebook health of 100 leading advertisers, in which Coca-Cola ranked as the world’s number-one brand. According to the study, Coke has a huge following on Facebook of more than 34 million fans, which is growing at a monthly rate of nearly three percent. The leading beverage brand also has strong fan engagement, typically running seven posts a month, each one of which garners more than 235 comments and nearly 1,750 “likes.”
Now, let’s look at the history of the official Coca-Cola Facebook page. This Coca-Cola branded Facebook page started out as a fan site that was created several years ago (2009) by several individuals who just loved the brand (call them brand evangelists; here’s an AdAge article that tells the story). As a large brand, Coke had the option to take over the site—but what they did actually shows just how much value they put in engagement with their customers.
They co-managed the site, working with the initial creators and actually celebrating how the page was born (when you go to their Facebook page, you are given the option to see the history—and some other fun videos like this one).
They actually celebrate how their Facebook presence was created by, and is now driven by, the fans.
They have fully integrated their web presence with their Facebook presence, as well. Take a look at the screenshots. From the main page of the Coca-Cola website, you see the option to “give a coke”—and when you click on that link, it takes you directly to their Facebook page.
There, you access a special application that allows you to send a fun message to a friend. Notice how on their website, they show their Facebook posts, as well. It’s a fully integrated experience between the website and Facebook with a focus on brand cohesiveness.
Creating a strong social media presence takes a great deal of work, intentionality and strategic focus. Coca-Cola has always been a social brand—one that is focused on their customers and building a sense of loyalty and community. Facebook is but an extension for this brand that already understands the importance of engagement with their customers. They are global in their approach and fully integrated. Even their Twitter feed and YouTube channel highlight their commitment as a global brand.
I’m not surprised that they are #1 in Covario’s study. Social is not something new for this brand. If the belief is there and the values are there, then the team of individuals who are responsible for implementing the social interaction opportunities across all properties (Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter) will be able to fully capitalize on the opportunities that communication technologies provide. It’s not rocket science for Coca-Cola, and it’s not work—it just comes naturally.