On April 3rd, 2009, Coca-Cola announced their office of digital communications and social media. Why this news is so groundbreaking is not necessarily just in the opening of the office, but in the sentiment expressed by Coca-Cola’s SVP of corporate affairs and productivity in the announcement memo to staff. Clyde Tuggle was quoted by PRWeek as saying, “mass media is declining in importance.” Tuggle continued by writing, “Our future success depends on our continued ability to connect people to our brands and our company all around the world, one person at a time.”
Digital and social media is quickly becoming the most effective way for brands to speak with their audience. Not only is the communication more direct and more targeted, but when done correctly, social media does four very important things that mass media cannot match:
- Creates a direct path for the audience to get the call-to-action message and lead them to a way to immediately purchase the product. Of course this can’t happen in all cases yet but is happening more and more.
- Allows for the audience to further market the product or service to other potential customers in an authentic way through their social spheres of influence.
- Invites less expensive and less stringent channels for distributing creative advertising and marketing including branded content. Getting a 1/2 hour series on CBS is much more expensive than creating a 3-minute web-series or an advergame on your own site.
- Enables immediate two-way communication between the brand and their audience.
I applaud Coca-Cola for proving that a worldwide corporation of this size and age can indeed learn new tricks and act quickly. Agencies always complain that it’s their clients who simply don’t get it. Now one of the biggest advertisers in the world is showing that they do get it. It’ll be up to us to show Coca-Cola and other corporations like them that we can deliver on what we’ve been touting.
I’d love to see a more technology-focused company like Microsoft be the next one to make a similar marketing move. Microsoft is a company that can truly take advantage of so much of what digital and social media can offer. Not only are many of their products and services easily purchased online — allowing for the customer to see a call-to-action and purchase immediately afterward — but Microsoft also has a huge PR problem that can be helped by allowing their customers to share their messages for them which will make the communication feel so much more authentic.
It’s indeed true that innovation increases when times are difficult — we all have to get creative to stay relevant. I hope that more corporations follow Coca-Cola’s lead and take steps to evolve.