Case Studies

March 15th, 2012

How Coca-Cola Keeps Its Cool on Facebook

This post is part of the Killer Facebook Pages Series, which highlights the top brand pages on Facebook and provides tips on how to emulate their successes.

Coca-Cola is the third most popular brand on Facebook, with nearly 40 million fans, falling only behind Facebook itself and YouTube. According to a Covario case study, the soft drink’s page is “growing at a monthly rate of nearly 3%.” 

The brand actually posts less frequently than many larger brands. With an average of seven posts per month, each post garners more than 235 comments and nearly 1,750 “Likes.” 

Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent told the Harvard Business Review that the company spends more than 20% of its overall media spend on social media, up from 3% five years ago.

There is no doubt that the world’s most popular soft drink company is also one of the smartest when it comes to social media. By finding ways to motivate its fans and involve them in the future of the company, it’s built a Facebook Page that continues to see a steady increase in activity.

Encouraging Participation

Coca-Cola’s Facebook Page is mostly run by its fans. By posting very little of its own updates, it is letting the fans do the talking. The company asks people to send in pictures of the places they drink Coke and poses questions such as, “What’s your favorite time of day to enjoy an ice-cold Coca-Cola?,” receiving thousands of likes and comments. Coca-Cola is one of the foremost companies that understands the need to abandon traditional advertising on social media sites in exchange for fan engagement. Asking for fans’ opinions, videos, stories and photos is endearing and shows that the company cares.

Running Contests

From August 2010 to February 2011, Coca-Cola doubled its fan base from 10.4 million to over 22 million on its Facebook Page. The Realtime Report suggests that it had to do with Expedition 206, a social media campaign that lasted for one year and chose fans as brand ambassadors. Three Coke fans had the opportunity to travel for 365 days around the world and promote the soft drink to its 206 markets. Along the way, the travelers posted their updates on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, bringing fans along on their journeys. Coke developed a genius social media strategy for Expedition 206, and it certainly paid off.

Developing Apps that Further Fan Engagement

In 2009, when the corporation was promoting Coke Zero, it launched a Facebook app called Facial Profiler that allowed fans to find their look-alikes on the site. They’d upload photos and then find their matches. The point of the app, according to Inside Facebook, was “to get consumers thinking that its flagship soft drink has a twin in its sugar-free version, Coca-Cola Zero.” After the matches were generated, the first photo that would come up would show Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Zero side by side. Users of the app could contact their match and post results on Facebook or Twitter.

As for its other brands, Coca-Cola stays on the mark when it comes to making its fans the number one priority. As opposed to direct advertising, in order to promote Vitaminwater, the company released an app called “Flavor Creator,” where fans could make their own virtual drinks. They could combine flavors, test out their healthiness, and create labels. According to a slideshow on Simply Zesty, this app resulted in tens of thousands of votes for flavors, 40,000 label designs, and a 174% increase in fans. In addition, the brand released black-cherry lime, as created and voted on by fans. On Facebook, Vitaminwater has 3.1 million fans.

Coca-Cola’s Core Values Translated onto Facebook

According to Coca-Cola’s official blog, “Each day, fans from around the world visit the page to express their love and share stories about Coca-Cola, which plays a key role in their lives. The brand is taking a backseat by joining, not hijacking, these online conversations. Doing so shows respect for our consumers and celebrates their creativity.”

Michael Donnelly, group director of global interactive marketing at Coca-Cola, adds, “By its nature, Coca-Cola has always been a social brand that consumers share with friends. … In social media marketing, we want to be everywhere our consumers are, but in a contextual, non-big-brand advertiser way.”

It is clear that Coca-Cola values its customers and fans, and vice versa. After all, two fans started the original Coca-Cola Facebook Page. Instead of taking over the page, the company let the two fans keep their positions, helping them out with the duties. From the beginning of its social media campaign, Coca-Cola has proven that its fans are its number one priority.

Image courtesy of Flickr, madlyinlovewithlife

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