Coca-Cola has been around since 1892 and really doesn’t need much of an introduction. When I was a kid they taught the world to sing and I still remember the commercials. Coke has always been good at marketing and I think I can prove it to you. What does Santa Claus drink when he’s not drinking milk? See? They’ve even managed to make Christmas and Santa triggers for their product!
The past 10 years or so, though, Coca-Cola and other soda companies have seen a big drop in sales. This has been primarily due to an increased interest in healthy lifestyles and an increased awareness of the negative effects of soda consumption. So, how did Coke manage to increase sales by 2% (Source) while Dr. Pepper and the gang watched from the sidelines?
About a year ago, Coke started their “Share a Coke” campaign. They modified their can and bottle designs to put one of the 250 most popular teen and millennial names on every can of Coke, Diet Coke, and Coke Zero. Since then, they’ve gone on to add the 1000 most popular names in the US and they’ve expanded to include phrases like “BFF” and “Soulmate,” so even if your name didn’t make the cut, you won’t be left out. It’s even possible to order customized cans.
But you don’t have to spend any money to create a virtual Coke and share it via email, Twitter, or Facebook. It’s easy, free, and fun. You can go to http://www.shareacoke.com/#bottle
Only a few months into the campaign, over 350,000 virtual Cokes had been shared. And you can share pictures of yourself sharing a Coke with a friend at the #shareacoke. Your image could be featured on the website or possibly even on a billboard. (Source)
The website has a tab “What’s in a Name” that is kind of mesmerizing. You type in your name and you find out all kinds of interesting facts about people with that name. For instance, I found out that someone named “Stephanie” has been to space and that 12 song titles have been inspired by my name. And it’s all displayed in an innovative style that you’ve kind of just have to see for yourself. http://name.shareacoke.com/experience/
They have even been used for wedding proposals. One featured six bottles of Coke lined up to spell, “Beautiful Eloise Will You Marry Me.” Awww…No surprise that it got millions of likes on Facebook.
Personally, I love this campaign. It doesn’t feel manipulative or “markety.” Instead, the overall voice of the campaign seems fun and friendly. They’ve masterfully integrated their product into all aspects of the social media sharing options. If I grab a Diet Coke, whoever I’m with asks me what name or word I got and vice-versa. If it’s something fun or funny, it’s awfully easy to take a picture with your smartphone and send out immediately to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram without even knowing anything about the options on Coke’s website. All of the opportunities to share put the “social” in social media. I definitely get a feeling of community from the website. They took something big like Coca-Cola and managed to make it personal.
Lucie Austin was Coke’s director of marketing in the South Pacific where the campaign was born. In her words, “At the end of the day, our name is the most personal thing we have. It’s our fingerprint… our identity… in one word. We gave consumers an opportunity to express themselves through a bottle of Coke, and to share the experience with someone else.” (Source)
Coke’s campaign is a great example for someone starting out in social media marketing. The best social media campaigns have a social component, making them something that you want to share with people you know either because it’s interesting, informative, or just plain fun. They also engage on multiple platforms, which in today’s world isn’t really too hard to do even for someone just learning the ropes. Besides these things, I’d recommend that someone just starting out in social media marketing remember to listen to consumers. Not only what they are saying about your product, but what is important to them in their lives. This will help you offer them content that is meaningful to them and makes them feel like they are kind of part of the family, even with a large company. When Lucie Austin held a can of coke with her name on it for the first time, she said she felt like a child. To me, the broader issue is to think about how everything you are doing in the campaign is going to feel to your consumers, and is that a feeling you hope to generate?