Coca-Cola's Wendy Clark: So happy together

Monday, 13 May 2013

Last month, my colleagues at Twitter asked if I would write a guest blog post for their thought leader series.

The exchange went something like this:

Robin@Twitter: Hey Wendy, would you be open to writing a blog post for our site with Coke’s social media advice/tips?

Wendy@Coke: Sure, but you know we don’t profess social as the ‘be all, end all.’ Are you brave enough to let me say Twitter’s great, but not by itself?

And their answer is clear as my blog post sits here as evidence of Twitter’s bravery and, in fact, complete alignment with our thinking at Coca-Cola.

Don’t get me wrong, we think Twitter is great, and important, and useful and, indeed, shaping the face of real-time dialog in a marketplace that has completely embraced acquiring wisdom in 140-characters or less and entertainment in six seconds or less.

Twitter is the zeitgeist of our core target – teens and young adults.

But, so too is social gaming, and mobile apps, and YouTube’s content, and broadcast live sports, and Snapchat, and FIFA cross-platform content and live-streamed concerts, and Spotify playlists, and live experiences, and brand co-creation opportunities, and…

You see, their zeitgeist is plural, not singular.

In the same way, they have room for Coca-Cola and many other favorite beverages, teens and young adults also have an endless thirst for content, technology, platforms, communications, apps and more.

So today’s successful brands have to be adept at integrating their media efforts. At Coca-Cola, we have a principle of ‘no dead ends’ in our connections planning. Meaning, if we’re going to keep the attention and engagement of teens and young adults we must link together our connections points. At every juncture, we want a teen to be able to go deeper into our content, engage further into our brand stories, easily share and connect our content to others.

Within our connections approach, Twitter is our Elmers. It’s the glue, a spoke, connective tissue – whatever metaphor you want to use to mean something that can connect potentially disparate things together and make them better – that’s Twitter.

Study after study evidences social media’s role within an integrated media plan. TV + Social = better than TV alone. It’s logical. Teens and young adults are multiscreen content consumers. The TV’s on, the Tablet’s on, the Mobile Phone’s always on. As brands we have to tell one, shareworthy story that’s connected across screens, experiences and conversations. What she sees on TV tells the same story as what she sees online and what she experiences at a live event and so on.

The consistent thread between all these connections points TV, online, experiential, in-store, OOH, theater, gaming, magazine, radio, etc.? Social.

If brands tell useful, interesting, important, shareworthy stories across their media connections then social becomes the vehicle, the platform, that enables that sharing and connectivity. Social = no dead ends.

And why do we value sharing so much? Reach.

As brands, the very core benefit of social occurs when we publish interesting, useful, important, shareworthy content to our embedded communities of followers and fans (our initial audience) and, if we do our jobs well on the compelling nature of that content, our followers and fans act as our salesforce and spread that content to an ultimate audience far greater than we could reach alone.

And this leads back to my initial point on social not being an effective standalone tool. When we’ve over-rotated on standalone social in the past our programs have failed to effectively meet our goals. Teens and young adults are fickle and their attention is, at best, fragmented. No one medium can effectively engage this audience and create the impact and results brands seek.

Social platforms, like Twitter, help connect and amplify our brand messages within this highly fragmented, always-on reality. Said in 140 characters or less, Twitter isn’t a silver bullet but it makes everything else we do better. And for Coca-Cola, where we can reach up to 15k Tweets per day, that means more reach, more engagement, more effectiveness, more impact, more Happiness, all created by integrating our media connections together.

Posted by
Wendy Clark (@wnd)
SVP Global Sparkling Brand Center
The Coca-Cola Company (@CocaCola)