A Coca-Cola executive threw cold water on social media buzz earlier this week when he told an advertising conference that the company doesn’t see a relationship between online buzz and the company’s short-term product sales. But the company has followed-up today with a clarification, saying that social is “crucial” and has been driving in-store purchases.
As AdAge reported on Monday, Coke’s Eric Schmidt (no relation to Google’s Eric Schmidt) told the Advertising Research Foundation’s Re:think 2013 conference that online buzz about the company only affected sales by about 0.01 percent.
“We didn’t see any statistically significant relationship between our buzz and our short-term sales,” Schmidt reportedly said.
But he also warned against over-reacting to the data, saying that Coke only looked at social buzz — i.e., conversation — and didn’t look at things like social sharing, video views and other elements of social media.
Coke’s Follow-up: Social Is “Crucial”
After the AdAge article created a lot of buzz this week (ironic, isn’t it?), Coke went out of its way today to emphasize that social media plays a “crucial role” in its online marketing, and has been driving in-store Coke sales.
Wendy Clark, Coca-Cola’s Senior Vice President of Integrated Marketing Communications and Capabilities, wrote a response to the conversation on the company website:
None of our plans are simply social, or TV, or mobile or experiential. On the contrary, it’s the combination of owned, earned, shared and paid media connections – with social playing a crucial role at the heart of our activations – that creates marketplace impact, consumer engagement, brand love and brand value.
Reach, engagement, love and value are the markers of success we use for our campaigns. We measure these in a variety of ways, often with our media partners. In beta testing with Facebook, we’ve been able to track closed-loop sales from site exposure to in-store purchase with very promising initial results that are above norms for what we see with other media.
Coca-Cola is one of the most popular brands on the social Web, at least in terms of fan and follower counts, with more than 61.7 million Facebook likes, 3.3 million YouTube video views, 204,000 LinkedIn followers and 63,000 Twitter followers.
The company spoke up last year in support of Facebook after General Motors very publicly questioned Facebook’s effectiveness for brand marketing.