If your business is one of the biggest in the world, then you must be doing something right surely?
Yet businesses only ever get this big by continually striving for excellence and improvement: they refuse to stand still or sit on their laurels. Now you imagine that a global brand like Coca Cola probably doesn’t really need to sell itself too much. Everybody has heard of it, and no doubt everyone will have drunk its product at some stage in their lives. Coca Cola is a giant in the carbonated soft drink world, but it still believes it could be doing better. Consequently the U.S. firm is having a fresh look at its marketing strategy and the way it presents its products. Now, you might think this is unnecessary as its creative content is already excellent.
You only need think back to Christmas for proof of that.
Coca Cola’s ‘Holidays Are Coming’ advert is one of the most recognisable, and is now synonymous with Christmas. How can you possibly top that? Well, intriguingly the brand has decided to turn its strategy on its head, and use people power and social media advocacy to bolster its brand. Coca Cola is now set to ditch the idea of ‘creative excellence’ in favour of ‘content excellence’ and use the voice of the consumer to spread the good word.
So what lies behind the change?
Why place such faith in the social media? Why would such a respected brand ditch a tried and tested formula in favour of strategy that many would argue is still at its experimental stage? Well, the answer for Coca Cola is simple. Social media and content marketing are more effective. The brand has stated that it believes customers on the social web can create more dynamic and relevant stories about the product than the company ever could. So, it’s handing over the baton, and from now on letting its customers call the shots. This is crowdsourcing, but on a global scale, with the aim of letting the consumer sell the product and be the ultimate brand advocate.
Some marketers have called the move inspired: others are a little less enthusiastic and call the change in strategy naïve and potentially damaging. After all, they claim, the social media is still in its infancy. It may be the hot topic of the moment, and seemingly offer the potential for exponential growth at little cost, but that bubble could burst at any time. You need only look at dotcoms for proof of that. However, the brand is convinced it has made the right call. The reason for this is simple. Coca Cola believes that the key to successful marketing is not just content, but the quality of the content itself. Content created on social media platforms it believes is more ‘liquid’ and contagious. Crowd created content is far more dynamic and much more likely to be shared than anything that could be thought up by a marketing professional chained to a desk. Social media content has the power to be shared globally by billions of people, and although it might go off on a tangent every now and then, that is the essence of its appeal. Viral content spreads every bit as rapidly as a bush fire, and has the capability of reaching all the corners of the earth in less than a day. Few structured marketing campaigns could ever compete with that.
Whether Coca Cola’s content excellence social media strategy will prove to be the success it believes is still open to question.
What can’t be questioned is Coca Cola’s commitment to it. It’s done pretty well with its hunches so far, so one suspects that this year’s gut feeling is more than likely to be just as successful.