Coca-Cola has seen an exponential increase in impressions and engagement across social media by paying to play and carefully targeting audiences, according to a keynote by Coca-Cola’s Tim Goudie at ClickZ Live New York.
In 2013, the company was relying primarily on organic impressions from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, according to Goudie. “We were expecting people to fall out of the trees and come running for our stunning content,” Goudie said. However, at the end of 2013, Coca-Cola spent $10,000 to push out its sustainability report across paid social.
The returns were so impressive that in 2014, Coca-Cola spent $400,000 on paid social, and in that time saw three times the number of impressions that the company saw in 2013 and grew fans by more than 20,000. Goudie reports that the company has also seen a 10 percent increase in positive brand perception along with a two-thirds reduction in spontaneous negative statements about the brand across social.
A successful social media campaign, according to Goudie, is “both an art and a science.” On one hand, the creative must be engaging, but brands must use data science to make sure the right message is getting to the right audiences. “It’s about facts, data, and details,” Goudie said.
For example, Coca-Cola works on many different sustainability projects across the globe, but uses data to push the right project to the consumer who is most interested. Coca-Cola’s 5by20 project aims to empower 20 million female entrepreneurs by 2020. The brand works carefully to push that program to women across Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube through paid posts.
Goudie stressed the fact that paid social should be the jumping off point for further discovery. Each piece of paid creative that Coca-Cola shares includes a link to a microsite that provides further reading, videos, and information about the project.
“We’re not just pushing out content,” Goudie said. “We’re targeting. We want our message to get to the consumer who is actually interested, who will spread and share. We always provide links on paid social in order to provide an opportunity to go back to a larger destination.”
Goudie also believes in separating the company voice from the brand voice in order to invite consumer engagement. According to Goudie, the company message appeals to scientists and the media, while the brand message appeals to the consumer.
When Coca-Cola released its plant-based bottle, it released scientific videos and infographics to shareholders and the media, but the video it targeted to Millennials eschewed overt branding and complicated infographics in favor of a simple, engaging message about the PlantBottle.
“Will Millennials use their hard-earned data plans to watch a corporate video?” Goudie asked. “Our PlantBottle video aimed to get consumers to see bottles differently in an unbranded video that wasn’t corporate speak. There’s a time and a place for infographics, but they’re better for going after key stakeholders.”
Coca-Cola’s push for unbranded content to appeal to a younger, more eco-friendly audience paid off. The PlantBottle video was one of their most successful ever, with a 28 percent engagement rate and more than half a million views in just five days.
Goudie stressed that even major brands who have seen tremendous success on television are going to have to shift budgets to paid social in order to stay competitive.
“Consumers have moved to digital whether we like it or not,” Goudie said. “Ninety-six percent of our views come from mobile, and the days of organic reach died a long time ago. Brands have to find where the strength in their stories lie and find a way to start a conversation about the good you do.”