Sahail Ashraf posted on 8 September 2016
As social media becomes an even more crowded space and innovative ideas are harder to come by, we can rely on Coca-Cola to push the envelope that little bit further. The huge brand has been riding quite a wave in recent years, with large campaigns that reach out to the literal billions that drink its product.
And on social media, the story is the same. Check out their incredible branding on Twitter and Facebook (‘the happiest page on Facebook’), for example, and you will see a company that is comfortable in the social space. Encouragingly for brands, this is not a company that is coasting on previous wins, but instead a brand that is trying to innovate as much as it can.
This brings us to ‘Share a Coke’. This campaign first surfaced a few years ago, and simply featured names on bottles and cans. This allowed people to feel a personal connection with the drink. Customers could buy a bottle that featured their own name on it, or the name of a loved one, and literally ‘share a Coke’ with someone. It was perfect for personalisation and ownership by customers. But obviously, Coke never sits around and rests on its laurels, and a new campaign was inevitable. So ‘Share a Coke and a Song’ was born.
The initial concept is simple. Instead of the names of people, cans and bottles feature song lyrics. Some of these songs are nostalgic, with an eighties link for example (such as ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’) and some are current (Taylor Swift is featured). But all of the songs are iconic and each one has been chosen because it allows people to connect over the drink. Essentially it’s a case of ‘Oh, you like that song too?’
This isn’t new. Share a Coke and a Song first surfaced in China back in 2014. China is famous for spearheading many marketing firsts, and Coke has a huge presence there, with literally millions of customers who are avid fans of the brand.
But what is new about this particular run of the campaign is the way it has been set up to take advantage of something that is new on a daily basis: social media. The current campaign, set to run through the summer of 2016 only, will focus specifically on customers using social media for certain aspects. In other words, it’s not just about sharing a drink but also about social sharing too.
At its basic level, the concept is about sharing, and the brand decided that the connection with music could be shared. A customer can use the app Shazam to scan a lyric to, say, ‘Under Pressure’ by David Bowie, and then record a digital lip-synch video. This video can then be shared on social using the hashtag #ShareaCoke.
Many years ago, Coke came up with the famous brand tagline ‘I’d like to buy the world a Coke’ and made it part of a massive TV campaign.
The tagline became part of a lyric based on a famous song and the rest is history. What was ironic was that the original song included the idea of teaching the world to sing.
Here, we have Coke making the world sing (or at least lip synch) through social media.
If the irony is lost on the current generation, so be it. But what is intriguing is that Coke has encouraged huge levels of social sharing.
On top of that, the brand doesn’t miss a trick with product placement.
Selena Gomez is one of the artists featured in the campaign. She has over 95 million followers on Instagram, and in one of her recent posts on the platform, was seen holding/modelling a bottle of the stuff. With 5.3 million likes in 7 weeks, this is the most liked image ever on Instagram.
What needs to be realised here is that Coke has stuck its neck out a little. Buying the rights to over 70 songs (not counting its own music, which will also feature on the cans and bottles) is no small matter. This is a lot of money and could potentially have been a huge gamble.
It’s hard to keep track of a brand like Coca-Cola, which has such a huge worldwide following on social media. But if there is anything to be gleaned from its Twitter account, for example, we can see that Coca-Cola has grown steadily, with follower growth of 0.23% from late July to mid-August.
On Facebook, Coca-Cola has nearly 100 million fans worldwide, and has indeed seen an increase in follower growth by nearly 50% in the same late July to mid-August period (47.85%), but it is hard to tell whether or not the Share a Coke and a Song campaign has caused this.
Coke has its finger on so many pulses marketing wise. It would be foolish to speculate that the new campaign is boosting sales. But what we can do is look at the campaign itself, and see how brands can use the ideas and approaches to improve engagement overall.
Connection is everything in social media. Connection means engagement because customers want to get involved and feel that connection. If you can encourage this in the way that Coke has managed you are going to see a boost in engagement.
Coke has acquired the use of song lyrics, something that is probably beyond the grasp of many brands. But what isn’t beyond brands is acquiring a piece of some kind of connection. It can’t be done with Rio 2016, so that’s off limits. But if your brand can find a common touchpoint with your audience, anything is possible.
Let’s take it back to basics. If you are famous for helping customers save money, run a contest to see how many coupons or discounts, or saving opportunities your customers can find throughout the summer (or from now on, the winter). This taps into the consciousness of your audience, and feeds off that connection.
If you sell products, personalise them if the budget allows, or bring some engagement to the table by allowing customers to send off and have their products personalised. It’s on the same level as Share a Coke because it means people have that ownership.
Push that beyond simple personalisation. Is there some way that your brand can get behind customers creating short personal pieces of media online and sharing it in social media? Like a short testimonial on video for example (perhaps with an incentive behind it). Doing that you’re tapping into the same stuff that Coke is with Share a Coke and a Song.
If you can find that connection with customers, and then encourage sharing around that connection, with customer loyalty driving everything, you’re doing what Coke does, just on a different level.
The lesson here for brands? Customers want to feel something when they use your product or service. If it is nostalgia due to a song lyric being in front of them, so be it. If it’s the satisfaction of saving 25% because they hit share on Facebook, it’s essentially the same.
Brands would do well to look more closely at what Coke is doing, and working out how they can get their customers to feel like they have ownership of the product and the experience.