Picture of Coke Bottle

By Hariadhi, via Wikimedia Commons

When Coke released their findings this morning that online buzz did not impact direct sales, I wasn’t surprised. From the reax of the internet, it seems the news was received with mixed emotions. Some people were shocked, others not so much. Here are a couple reasons why I don’t think the news is so revelatory.

  • Coke is a huge company. I’m sorry, let me rephrase…Coke is a HUGE company. This matters because they already had tremendous reach, massive marketing campaigns and a ubiquitous product well before Facebook and Twitter were even thought of. In fact, Coke is so well known that in the great state of Tennessee, you can go into most any restaurant and ask for a Coke, and the response will be, “What kind?” Around here, the word Coke is used to describe any soft drink, from Dr. Pepper to 7-Up. Therefore, social media for them is more about keeping their brand relevant than it is creating awareness.
  • Coke is B2C. When social media is utilized to market production of retail goods to end-users thru distributors, the results are typically trend based, not direct. Again, Coke being such a force in the marketplace doesn’t help with this phenomenon. Whether it’s watching a Super Bowl commercial or seeing a Facebook post, if I want a Coke, I just go to the store and buy one. I don’t call the Atlanta or Chattanooga office directly to place an order. There are certainly metrics that they used to measure the success on direct sales no matter which marketing medium is chosen. I just don’t think that those metrics would apply to many other companies.

A myriad of factors can influence how social media impacts Coke’s – or your business’ – sales figures. Finding the metrics that matter to you is the most important step in measuring success. Building brand awareness, insulating current business, keeping a brand fresh, and driving direct sales are all great goals for social media. They are also very different goals with very different campaign approaches and will likely color your perception of success for your program.

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