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Live from IABSM: Coke’s ingredients for social media

3 min read

Brands & Campaigns

Linda Cronin, director of media and interactive integrated communications, Sparkling BBU, Coca-Cola North America, opened today’s sold-out IAB Social Media Marketplace. Her presentation didn’t give us much under-the-hood insight about Coke’s social-media strategy:

  1. Add value. Bring value into every interaction.
  2. Be transparent. Listen to what your brand owners are saying. You are not your brand owner. You are the steward of your brand.
  3. Be consistent and follow through. Stay on brand strategy and stay true to who you are.  Make human connections, which we all share, better and more meaningful.
  4. Be receptive to change. Mix things up to keep it fresh.
  5. Surprise and delight your customers. Again, keep things interesting and fresh.  Here’s a great example of that.

The Q&A, however, delivered valuable takeaways:

Q: Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of IAB, asked one of the most “bedeviling” questions about social media:  Even within marketing, how do you organize it? There’s PR/advertising/consumer promotions/trade promotions.  How has Coke worked to integrate social media into the fabric of marketing?

A: We have created two Social Media Councils, one for national and one for global.  These groups include representatives from media, marketing, legal, PR and other functions across Coca-Cola. Once people are on a council, they start working together. Not only do they talk about best practices, ideas and programs they are struggling with, these groups become informal sounding boards where people feel comfortable working together and looking at things together.  It’s more than the actual council itself — it’s about connections made across disciplines.

Q: A representative from Meebo asked, What have social networks allowed you to do that hasn’t in the past?

A: They have allowed us to join the conversation — to go where consumers are and add value there.

Q: A representative from Horizon Media asked, How do you leverage agencies to get the most out of them?

A: We work with an integrated marketing committee that brings traditional agency (Widener Kennedy) and PR agencies, two interactive agencies (360i, SMG), and our media agency of record. It’s critical to make sure the agencies work together in partnership.

Q: An unidentified attendee asked, How do you deal with negative sentiment?

A: When do you respond, when not respond? It’s tricky business. Generally, we allow social media to self-regulate. Luckily, our community is passionate; we have a lot of brand advocates that stand up for Coke against negative sentiment.  Beyond that, we rely on agency partners to help guide us. Especially when information being disseminated is inaccurate, it’s important to provide real information.

Q: Another anonymous attendee asked, Do you have any advice for marketers who don’t have as much money to spend on social media as Coke?  Say, a budget of $25,000?

A: Don’t enter this space without a strategic plan in place. Platforms. [It’s] not that expensive to start the convo, just make sure you have the budget to keep it going.

For updates from IAB Social Media Marketplace throughout the day, follow us on Twitter.

Image credit, Katherine Welles, via Shutterstock