Thinking aFresh: A study in Coke

Hello Fresh, I’m Milly. I’d quite like to work with you guys. Rather than bore you with my CV and try to bamboozle you with my qualifications (they are in law, I was one of those wig wearing people, and my CV is attached to my email), I thought I would show you the kind of thing my brain occasionally comes up with.

So what’s with the Coke? Well… have you seen the Coke attempts at community engagement? It is pants, frankly. I did check you had nothing to do with it before I said that. But it is. Desperately so. This post will tell you about their current community activities, and tell you about how I would start to make it a little more cohesive.

So… what Coke currently have is a mess. There is, in no particular order:

The Coke GB site, the CokeZone site, the Coca Cola Conversations blog, several Twitter accounts, the YouTube Channel and the FaceBook page. On top of that there are the official sites for numerous other countries. And that isn’t all of it, which may well be why the accounts are seemingly not being managed well (having 4 different agencies is probably not helpful either).

One glaring example of the accounts not being well managed  is the lack of cross pollination between the channels. For instance, Coke came up with the idea of the “Coke Happiness Machine” which they claim went viral on YouTube:

Looking at the channel stats it doesn’t overall look too bad (these aren’t specifically for that video, but rather for the channel as a whole) :

However, rather amazingly, that video does not appear in the video section of the Facebook page, and does not appear to have been tweeted on release. Given that the Facebook page has over 14million fans, you would have thought that was exactly the place where Coke would have wanted it to be seen. Additionally, they have over 140k followers on the main Coke Twitter account, so the decision not to cross pollinate seems a little crazy, especially when it appears that there was some form of decision to get the video out there, in that it appears on the Coke GB community page:

As you can see, the community element of that site is pretty poor, given that it has generated a whole 2 Facebook “likes”. If you go to that page, you will see there is little “community” about the community. It is simply a static transmission page, with no scope for engagement, other than to “like”. The video also appears on CokeZone with no ability to “like” or comment; it simply takes you to the YouTube page.

The “Coke Conversations” blog clearly states that it is all about the conversation. However, it is turgidly boring, and the most comments on any one post are 6. Most posts have no comments, a few have 2 at best.  Not much of a conversation. Frankly I would disband this blog and use that URL for something more akin to a conversation.

Coke Zone also has a blog, which attracts over 100 comments on most posts. However, most of those are currently complaints, due to people not receiving the gifts Coke has promised via a loyalty scheme, which reminds me of the saying that worse than not doing community, is doing community badly. Whoever “Sindy4CokeZone” is, she is clearly struggling.

Moving onto the main Twitter account, the first thing that struck me is that given they have over 14 million Facebook fans and currently holding 18% of the non alcoholic drinks market world wide, 140+k followers seems very low. However, looking through the account it mainly comprises of @replies, thanking people for following or giving them a “shout out”. Running the account through an analyser it states that 90% of tweets are @replies, and less than 1% are re-tweets, mainly for other Coke accounts. That suggests that somewhere there is 9% original tweets, but you struggle to find them in the timeline, and they are not what you would expect to find in a corporate account, that being a mix of engagement, publicising what they are doing generally and competitions etc.  A mere 140k followers for a corporation this big, well, suggests they are not quite doing Twitter right.

Turning now to Facebook, quite how they have over 14 million fans is anyone’s guess, because again, it is boring. The wall comprises of fans declaring love, but there is little to none two-way engagement from whomever runs it. As mentioned above, they do not make full use of the video element, by posting videos that people will actually share, nor is there any real encouragement to do so.

Adam Brown, who was the public face of social media for Coke (he is now at Dell), quite happily told emarketer in this interview about Coke’s big campaign for 2010, Expedition 206 , which according to Mr Brown “…[is] the latest expression of the “Open Happiness” campaign brought to life through the power of social media.” I can find no mention of Expedition 206 on any of the channels mentioned above, save for the You Tube channel, which has a link to the Expedition 206 one. The 316 videos on the channel have collectively had 20,899 views.

This is all, I think, all quite amazing for a company that often speaks publicly about its’ desire to engage in social media, and which happily publishes its own social media principles (which if you are inclined, you can find here).

Now I have set out what I consider they are doing wrong, I suggest that how they start to put it right is first of all cross pollinate their channels. Facebook is where I would start, given the massive fan base which already exists there.  I would start by posting some of the cooler videos they have on the YouTube channel, and then run some small competitions. In inter-linking the accounts, I would in particular bring the Twitter account into use for what it was designed for, and actually tell people about the interesting stuff on the other sites, whilst also monitoring Twitter generally to discover what people are saying about the brand in their non @replies, and attempting to draw them into the community too. To especially mark the fact that Coke recognises the Coke community needs bringing together (as often publicly stated by Mr Brown), I would turn to this video:

Next year is the 40th anniversary of that ad – it basically being Coke’s first attempt to form a community. I would first of all funk up the tune a bit, and throw it open to the community, asking them who they would like to buy a Coke wherever the recipient is in the world. The stories Coke likes, it can send them both a bunch of Coke products and ask them to post a video of them sharing the Coke, utilising Skype if they are sharing remotely, then posting and promoting those videos via all its current social media outlets. The top 50 stories Coke really likes, as voted for by the community,  should form part of a new Coke community video – get them all at one location, and re-film the ad.  One community, re-joined. Quite simple really.


The following is a post that I wrote about my own use of Twitter that I never got around to publishing, but I hope will at least give you some insight into my thoughts on the medium, and how I personally use it:

A friend was messing about on Twitter one evening, and posed the question “Does playing on Twitter mean you take business less seriously“.  That gave me some pause for thought, and reminded me of something that Jay Baer had written a few days before: “People always slam Twitter for people talking about “what they had for lunch” but the blending of the personal and professional is very attractive to me. I want to know what music you listen to, what you think is funny, why your cat is insane. When was the rule written that business had to be all-business? Life is so boring under those conditions.”

I no longer use Twitter as a business tool. My initial account was a business one, until I left the ezine/website I worked for, however, looking through my timeline, I realised that it was pretty much the same as it had been when I had a corporate account, including a lot of the same people. On Twitter I am me. A little bit political, a little bit ranty about law, a little bit flirty, a lot silly (some may say mad). Not a particularly quiet girl. I talk about the news, give out my views, occasionally talk about my kids or other areas of my life, and largely engage with my pals – and I do consider a lot of my followers my pals, even if I haven’t yet got around to meeting some of them yet. My stats tell me that around 85% of my tweets are @replies, so engaging is clearly what I do (usually having 4 or 5 conversations on the go at any one time).

That doesn’t answer the question about whether it damages or enhance my professional role though. Well, here is the thing. When I set up my Twitter account, one demographic I was looking for was lawyers. Lawyers to write for the ezine, and commercially engage with the mother site, hence a lot of my early follows and followers were lawyers. Boring people right? Well, if you look at my legal group and how we engage, you would think we are barking mad. We, um have a kind of game going (still), that has been going on since the early days. It mainly involves a female lawyer and I kidnapping a male American lawyer to thwart his dastardly plans to capture us and make us fee earn for him. It largely takes place in the (virtual) Caribbean, where we have a cabin, and a boat. We pull senior lawyers in to act as judges when we need to, mediators when we need those, and take other lawyers with us on our missions when we need back up. Part of our group are known as “Bri Bri’s Angels”, loosely based on Charlie’s Angels, Bri Bri being a senior partner at  a large law firm, who recruited us to thwart the same American when he tried to steal his virtual wife. The whole of my legal community flow in and out of the game, with the others watching, declaring us mental. Why am I telling you this? Well, ostensibly, we look like a group of nuts playing some mad game that we never appear to tire of. Underneath that, we are a strong professional group, who have all connected via Twitter and engage out in the real world in various ways. I have been offered jobs, recruited my writers, engaged commercial partners, all due to that playing. It isn’t just me – all members of the group have something going on with others.

So my view about being silly and playing about on Twitter? Go for it, if that is you… you never know who you are going to engage, and how you are going to engage them. Just make sure that whatever else you do, you do engage, and that there is balance. Twitter is not a transmission tool – that is radio. And just like how we never really listen to the radio when it is on in the background, followers will not be listening to you if you are only transmitting.


This is usually the point in these job applications where I mention my favourite social media campaign. There is a minor problem with that given that this is what I usually say:

Oh, just because I love this, one social media campaign I really wish I had come up with – the Freshnetworks Jimmy Choo campaign – genius!

I have left it in not to be sycophantic, but to sum up in one sentence why I would like to work for you. If you like what I have read, call me! My numbers are in the email which led you here. I am in London next week (25th-29th) and would love to meet you for a coffee. Or maybe even a Coke.


About millysmusings

Just a girl.
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