While putting together our recent series of posts looking at how major brands use the four main social networks I’ve somehow managed to overlook Coca-Cola, so today I have rectified that startling omission.
Coca-Cola is one of those instantly recognisable brands that would rake in fans and followers without even trying, so it’s to its credit that it has active account across the social web.
So, here’s a quick look at how it uses Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.
Coca-Cola has attracted 63 million fans to its main Facebook page, which isn’t that surprising as it’s one of the most recognisable brands in the world.
And one of the privileges that comes with its international celebrity is the ability to leave its Facebook page unattended for long periods of time.
While other consumer brands such as ASOS and Red Bull push out several updates per day in order to keep their fans interested, Coca-Cola often goes more than a week without posting anything.
Starbucks enjoys a similar position to Coca-Cola and has around 30 million fans and a huge amount of on-page engagement despite the fact that it rarely posts any updates.
Furthermore, as Coca-Cola doesn’t have its own stores its social strategy isn’t focused on driving people to its shops or to an ecommerce platform.
Instead it’s all about maintaining the brand image and raising awareness of its ad campaigns.
For example, most of the updates this year have been to promote Coke’s polar bear adverts as well as the company’s charity work to help the arctic.
Similarly, in the past 12 months the company has used its Facebook pages to publicise its Olympics and Euro 2012 ad campaigns.
The social team also pose questions and run polls fairly often, however images yield a far better response from fans in terms of comments and ‘likes’.
Compared to a number of other brands I’ve looked at the level of engagement on Coca-Cola’s page is actually quite low. It generally attracts a few thousand ‘likes’ and a couple of hundred comments on each post, but Nike and Starbucks frequently clock up tens of thousands of 'likes' and thousands of comments.
Coca-Cola also has a number of Facebook apps, including one called ‘When will happiness strike’ that is basically a video real of its ads and another called ‘Ahh Giver’ that allows users to send a personalised message and a free Coke to a Facebook friend.
Coca-Cola also has Facebook pages for its other products such as Diet Coke and Coke Zero, however these have far fewer fans.
Interestingly, the Diet Coke page has attracted two million ‘likes’ by posting daily updates of fashion content and pictures of the Diet Coke man. However the Coke Zero page has 4.2 million fans despite the fact that it is generally updated only a few times per month.
This disparity could possibly be something to do with Coca-Cola’s use of global pages, as at the moment it appears that you see different content depending on your location.
For example, the updates on the main Coke page talk about the London Olympics being in “our back yard”, but presumably users in other countries see different content.
Therefore it could be that the Coke Zero page is far more active in other regions which has helped it to attract so many fans.
As is common with most global brands, Coca-Cola has separate Twitter feeds for each of the local markets in which it operates.
It also has dedicated pages for various products and sub-brands, including Diet Coke, Coke Zero, its racing teams, and the company’s long-deceased founder Doc Pemberton.
The main Twitter feed has just over 700,000 followers and has tweeted more than 75,000 times, which makes it among the most active brands I’ve looked at.
The social team rarely post any straightforward marketing messages and instead primarily use Twitter to respond to @mentions.
It responds to a huge number of mentions each day, including complaints, follow requests, compliments and general chitchat. And the social team even has a Spanish speaker among the ranks.
Overall I’m a fan of Coca-Cola’s Twitter feed as it is used as a way of communicating with customers rather than simply pushing out marketing messages.
That said, there are probably still hundreds of @mentions going unanswered which Coca-Cola could probably address by adding more staff to the social or customer service teams.
The Diet Coke feed adopts a very different approach and is mainly used for tweeting marketing messages, asking questions, and spouting inspirational quotes.
It does respond to occasional @mentions, but never really more than about five per day.
As with the Facebook page, the brand messaging is aimed squarely at women and I feel it is missing a trick by not being more active in responding to other users.
It has a clearly defined audience and could easily use Twitter to communicate with its customers and increase brand loyalty, however it prefers instead to use it primarily as a broadcast tool.
As a comparison, the Nike Running feed gives training and product advice to hundreds of people per day, so there’s no reason why Diet Coke couldn’t offer fashion and lifestyle tips in keeping with its brand positioning.
The Doc Pemberton feed is also a decent example of how to use Twitter for customer engagement rather than overt marketing.
It’s a quirky, entertaining account that tweets the pretend musings of the man who invented Coca-Cola’s back in 1886.
Whoever controls it gives light-hearted responses to a good number of @mentions, which helps to soften Coke’s glossy, corporate image.
Coca-Cola’s Pinterest account is really quite interesting as there’s only one board that relates to a specific Coca-Cola ad campaign, while the others are all images that focus on a random theme.
The one brand-related board is called 'Olympic Games Moments’ and includes a loads of images depicting Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the event, all of which link to official Coca-Cola sites.
It’s the kind of thing that’s fairly typical of major brands on Pinterest and is by far the least interesting of its six boards.
The other five are themed around vague topics such as ‘Be Together’, ‘Keep Discovering’ and ‘Be Active’. They include some great photos, all of which are taken form Flickr so none of it links back to Coca-Cola’s own websites, which is a trap that many brands fall into.
And while all of the images are in someway related to the overall theme, many of them also include Coke bottles.
Some were created specifically for Coca-Cola but most appear to be pictures from random Flickr accounts, which means there are a large number of people out there who like to take photos that look like Coca-Cola adverts. Several of them even come from people’s weddings.
It’s a great idea by Coca-Cola to collate all of these images into one place and presumably the people who took them will be pleased that the company has noticed their efforts, but I find it slightly odd that anyone would want to take such a photo just for their own pleasure.
There is also a Diet Coke Pinterest account that has 3.400 followers, slightly more than the Coca-Cola page.
It has nine boards that are largely brand related, but it does a god job of collating content posted on other networks and websites by its fans.
In some cases the social team has also taken the time to ask permission before repinning photos from Instagram or Twitter.
The social team also ran a Pinterest competition last year, which is becoming a common tactic for driving up awareness and followers.
Entrants could win a trip to New York during Fashion Week by creating a new board and pinning four autumn fashion images using the hashtag #TakeMeToNYC.
A quick search revealed that there are just 54 boards named after the hashtag, however as Diet Coke didn’t actually stipulate what the board had to be named it’s possible that there are more entries.
Overall, neither of the accounts I looked at is particularly active as they’ve only pinned around 120 images each, but they’ve taken the time to find quality images that other people have posted to demonstrate their affinity for Coca-Cola and Diet Coke.
And as a result they’ve got some really creative, interesting boards and images that other users will want to share and that will go some way to deepening people’s brand loyalty.
During the first half of 2012 Coca-Cola maintained a fairly active Google+ page and posted updates every few days, but following the Olympics that seems to have tailed off and it now goes weeks and sometimes months without posting anything.
It has more than 800,000 followers, but as with most brands the level of user engagement on the page is really low when compared to Facebook, with only a few hundred +1s and comments on each update.
It’s generally quite unremarkable other than the fact that Coca-Cola has experimented with Hangouts several times, which I feel is really the only interesting feature that G+ currently offers.
In the past 12 months it has hosted Hangouts with one of Coke's ‘super fans’, the Coke racing team and singer Jason Derulo, which offers fans a unique opportunity to engage with the brand beyond the usual +1s and ‘likes’.