Coca-Cola’s new marketing map – better?

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2014/02/24 · 10 comments 37,800 views

in e marketing 101 social media trendwatch,social media diary

Update: This blog entry was picked up and re-published on SmartData Collective.
CLICK on IMAGE - Coca-Cola eyes US$1 billion in cuts as profits fall.

This blog entry focuses on two issues:

  1. What went wrong with Coke’s social media marketing?
  2. How can Coke get more bang for fewer bucks?

The nadir of Coca-Cola’s disconnect with fans and readers is its millions of Likes, which often result in fewer than 100 comments. Its largest market is the US; this is where its weakness is most evident. Meanwhile, Diet Coke faces rising concerns over artificial sweeteners.

Coca-Cola has announced that profits fell by 8.4 percent in the last quarter of 2013, and it is now eyeing US$1 billion in cuts.

Keywords: Coca-Cola, content marketing, engagement, KPI, marketing buzz, measurement, ROI, strategy, DrKPI, SocBiz

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Step 1: Slash Facebook expenditures

In March 2013 Coca-Cola had about 61.5 million Facebook fans of its flagship brand, surpassing an impressive 80 million by early March 2014. But looking through a random selection of 20 posts over a period of weeks revealed that engagement in the form of comments was extremely low (one or two per post, or 10 if it got high).

Worse, the numbers reveal that most posts were only seen by about 20 to 100 people. Given their 80 million fans, that means the page manages an engagement ratio of a whopping ==> 0.0000012 percent. Ouch.

You may get slightly different numbers, but they certainly will not be significantly better than what our tool revealed.

Bottom line: One of the biggest consumer brands in the world generates virtually zero interaction through its Facebook page.

Recommended reading: Facebook – why is nobody listening?

Step 2: Stop being a media site

CLICK on IMAGE - Do I want to engage with a brand that continues to just share silly stories about itself?In November 2013, Coca-Cola’s marketing team announced that, “the corporate website is dead and press release PR is on its way out.” This statement underscored the brand’s move from its main webpage to a digital magazine.

This got Mark Higginson (see below) to dig a bit deeper and look at 87 posts on the Coca-Cola Journey site. He wanted to investigate the social sharing or ripple these stories created on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Most significantly, the site does not give readers the opportunity to comment; that function is disabled. Remember, the Social Media Examiner demonstrates with each post that reader comments add significant value to blog entries. Here are Mark’s results:

The average number of shares from a post to Facebook was 238, to LinkedIn, 103 and to Twitter, 42. Each post averaged eight comments and two-thirds of posts received no comments at all.

Comments refer to those written when sharing on Facebook or doing a LinkedIn status update. This level of engagement is not very encouraging. The site obviously fails to convince its readers of the following:

a. The story adds value for the target reader.
b. Content helps readers get an answer they need or to a topic they want.
c. Content helps solve a problem.

CLICK ON GRAPHIC - DrKPI - CyTRAP - Target AUDIENCE: 1. Why should they care? 2. Will they be inspired to share? - content that helps readers solve problems is perceived as useful.
The above graphic shows how Coca-Cola’s content fails to meet several criteria for fostering engagement. For starters, all content focuses on Coca-Cola, a purely navel-gazing exercise.

This would not be a problem if the magazine’s focus were something other than engagement. But according to Coca-Cola’s Ashley Brown, engagement is supposed to happen. Unfortunately, evidence suggests it ain’t happening at a level you would expect from committed readers.

Recommended reading: Higginson, Mark (February 4, 2014). Should Coca-Cola quit its content marketing journey? Sparksheet – Blog entry. Retrieved Feb. 21, 2014 from

Bottom line: Coca-Cola generates limited if not negligible engagement with its online magazine… A prompt shift in strategy is needed to turn things around.

By the way, surprisingly Coca-Cola’s .txt robot file states that it does not want its content to be crawled (search engines, etc. beware) – definitely a rookie mistake…

Step 3. Don’t count on buzz marketing

CLICK on IMAGE - Keep it Simple, Stupid - KISS - with DrKPIIn a statement during a March 2013 presentation, Mr Schmidt said there is no, “statistically significant relationship between our buzz and our short-term sales…”

But Coca-Cola’s senior VP-integrated marketing communications and capabilities, Wendy Clark quickly countered Mr. Schmidt’s point. She wrote that the finding is true in isolation, but it should not obscure the role that social media plays. Her suggestion was that progressive marketeers know better than Mr. Schmidt.

Nevertheless, Coca-Cola is in good company. Old Spice did a great online campaign but the final question is: Did this sell any more product or just produce buzz? Mostly buzz (see Going viral or selling product: ROI anyone?).

Bottom line: As Wendy Clark suggests, we need to ask a “why” about marketing strategy. Moreover, Coke should not ignore data evidence when assessing social media’s usefulness.

Evidence-based discussions are needed about what works and what fails in social media marketing. Below, we show Coke what can be done better.

CyTRAP BlogRank – DrKPI
Coca-Cola’s historical blog (important moments) ranks ninth – showing that a shift in Coca-Cola’s main content marketing journey, toward blogging, could be a viable strategy (e.g., costs, bigger bang for the buck, buzz, word-of-mouth marketing, etc.).





Head- line

Txt Complx.





Click triangle
for more info




















Read more about Coca-Cola’s social media efforts

Rest assured we will help Coke get it right!

Source: Coca-Cola’s new marketing map – better?

How do you foster engagement on your webpage, blog, etc.?
What are your thoughts about Coca-Cola?

Thanks again for sharing your insights –
I always appreciate your very helpful feedback.

Urs E. Gattiker, Ph.D. - CyTRAP Labs - ComMetrics.

The author: This post was written by social media marketing and strategy expert Urs E. Gattiker.

His book, Social Media Audit: Measure for Impact, appeared in 2013 from Springer Science Publishers.

His latest book about social media fashion with passion will appear in March 2014 – grab your pre-publication 25 percent discount with free shipping now.

  • Gaby

    Dear Urs,

    Thanks a lot for this thorough report. I am somewhat surprised that despite the huge number of “likes” the Coca-Cola Facebook page got that little engagement. However, considering that the number of people that see their posts is so low, this is no surprise. Once again, I ask myself: is Facebook’s news feed algorhythm simply stupid or is it manipulative. Either way, I totally lose interest in engaging further with my Facebook page if reach numbers are so low. Honestly, it’s all about the money that Facebook needs to make! They claim it’s free, yet it’s not!

    On another note regarding Coca Cola: They were brave enough to re-do their website and start an alternative to Facebook. Maybe they did this in order to reach more people. However, buidling up an audience on their own hub must be very hard, as people usually log into Facebook and want to see everything. Why would they go to another page that is about one product only? These times are long gone, I guess.

    Hey, but I found some cool videos from Coca Cola today that went tremendously viral, even though they sort of are “against” Social Media:

    Social Media guard:
    (more than 3 mio. clicks as of 25 Feb.)

    Chose love over like:
    (more than 4 mio. clicks as of 25 Feb.)

    So: Facebook is dead! Long live YouTube!



    •*/*/*/FTindex Urs E. Gattiker

      Hi Gaby @Kommboutique:twitter
      Thanks so much for this comment. I love these two videos. I think we kind of agree with each other once again :-) For me your examples show very nicely:
      1. the action happens away from the Coca-Cola site
      (too bad the video is not available …. at least not easily found when going to the Coca-Cola site).
      2. It does not happen on Facebook either.
      Hmmm what does this say about Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to purchase WhatsApp that is now also offering phone calls like Skype?

      Why it is cool to have such content, however, as Mr. Schmidt the guy in charge of these social media efforts at Coke stated…. all this buzz does not sell product.
      We discussed this in regard to Old Spice, there Procter & Gamble found out it failed as well…. buzz is great and so is if the sponsored buzz goes viral like these two videos. But does it help selling. If Coke says no… I sure say no since we do not have the money needed to do this :-)

      Gaby once again, you wrote a great and insightful comment for which I am grateful. Merci.

  • ashbrown77


    My name is Ashley Brown, and I lead the Coca-Cola Journey team. A few things about your post prompted me to write:

    1. I have written a thorough rebuttal to Mark’s piece, which categorically proves his assertions are not accurate. Social shares on Coca-Cola Journey are actually greater than on a number of other marketing publications, including Sparksheet itself. You can read my analysis here:

    2. Coca-Cola Journey DOES allow comments on every story, and to date we have received nearly 20,000 thoughtful comments on our work.

    3. Not all of our content is Coke focused. About 40% of our work, including most of our careers-focused content and culture-specific work is unbranded. However, outside of these two areas, our Coke-focused work performs better with readers. And we listen to our readers.

    4. I am not sure you have actually read the content on Journey. We tick all of your boxes on your Value and Usefulness chart.


    •*/*/*/FTindex Urs E. Gattiker | DrKPI

      Dear Ash ashbrown77

      Thanks so much for your comment above. Before I dive into answering your rebuttal though, my concern is that I cannot figure out what the difference is between versus

      Coca-Cola Germany tells me that coca-cola-unbottled is the blog

      But the content seems the same? Can you please clarify?
      Thanks so much.


      PS. Here you find some data for your blog:*/R/

      • ashbrown77


        Coca-Cola Journey ( is our magazine, which replaced our corporate website.

        Coca-Cola Unbottled ( is our topical news blog.

        These sites have different editorial strategies and teams, although they are on the same platform globally.

        Coca-Cola Journey/Germany is the locally managed German language edition of the global Journey magazine. It’s editorial team is entirely independent and based in Berlin. Most of its content is bespoke to the German market, although we do share some articles much like any magazine network.


        •*/*/*/FTindex Urs E. Gattiker | DrKPI

          Dear @ashbrown77:disqus
          Thanks for replying

          But then it is as I thought. The content strategy is quite similar because the actual blog posts also show up on the magazine (verbatim). So I am not totally sure as a reader how the target group(s) differ between the two sites.

          Can you please clarify
          Urs @DrKPI:disqus

        • ashbrown77

          The Top Posts module surface top performing content across both sites, to expose interesting information for readers and build the audience of both sites.

          We want to ensure that high performing content is exposed to readers wherever they happen to be (the essence of liquid & linked), and not isolated based on publication.

          This is a publishing best practice. It’s also not relevant to your critique. :-)

        •*/*/*/FTindex Urs E. Gattiker | DrKPI

          Dear @ashbrown77:disqus
          You write:

          This is a publishing best practice. It’s also not relevant to your critique. :-)

          That publishing the same content twice is best practice in publishing I would like to question. It surely means a bigger bang for your buck but:

          1. Google does not like it…. and
          2. Unless you go for a different target audience why have to sites.

          If you go for two different types of audiences, your content should be adjusted accordingly, yes?

          Finally, about engagement. As you can see in the chart below there are various ways in how to measure influence / engagement. One is comments and sharing.
          Comparing your site(s) according to the number of comments, for instance, suggests

          – fee comments in comparisons to other blogs from large companies, AND
          – blog comments are very short such as “cool content, Jarred” (i.e. fail to add beef to the original post’s content, AND
          – authors never ever answer reader comments.

          But if you fail to answer reader comments, how can you claim you have engagement or a dialogue with your reader. You broadcast, reader replies, answer never follows.
          Here you gave me a comment, I had to answer and you replied again….. we are having an online discussion that is benefitial to, so I hope, both of us but surely to the readers of this blog post.

          But maybe I am missing something?

          Thanks for being so upfront about this things, it is really refreshing. Merci


        • ashbrown77


          Again, you aren’t correct.

          First, there is no duplicate content. Stories only appear once. That they are surfaced in modules like “Most Popular” is not duplicate content. Surfacing high performing content in this way is visible on any major publication’s website.

          Our readers have left us more than 20,000 comments – this isn’t a few, it’s quite a lot.

          We do not have the resources to respond to every comment. And many comments don’t need a response. We’re happy to provide a forum for feedback.

          “great content, Jarred” is good feedback. It’s a reader telling us we’re doing a good job.

        •*/*/*/FTindex Urs E. Gattiker | DrKPI

          Dear @ashbrown77:disqus
          Thanks again for replying so fast.

          Sorry if I did not understand you correctly – i.e. no cross-postings.

          Yes I agree, if it are just the most popular posts that are shown (list of titles), it is not duplicating of content.

          But frankly, it is hard for the average user to figure it out – what is blog and what is magazine.
          You mention:

          We do not have the resources to respond to every comment. And many comments don’t need a response. We’re happy to provide a forum for feedback.

          This is a VERY important statement and confirms what I have said and written about years ago: “Social Media is not scalable.” It takes money and staff that engage.

          You also state:

          “great content, Jarred” is good feedback. It’s a reader telling us we’re doing a good job.

          Agreed. Most comments are 10 words or less in length, like shouts – see above positive one..
          But this way there is limited added value from these comments. Our data shows that unless commenters get a thank you in form of an e-mail and a reply online, they are unlikely to ever come back to comment (e.g., repeat commenters vs. new ones, etc.)

          So if you take these 20,000 comments of this type and relate this to number of blog entries, etc., maybe that is good and meets your performance standard. Congratulations, shows that you have an objective and achieved it. Be proud.

          Thanks for sharing, Ashley.

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