Coca Cola is taking its Social Media efforts one step further. The brand is going to hire an agency that will mine Social Media data to understand what customers are saying about the brand and looking for. It’s an attempt to consistently understand the Social Web and benefit from it for the different brands, supply chains and so on.

The winning agency will be responsible for formulating a consistent way of keeping track of what consumers are saying across Twitter, Facebook and other channels about all of Coca-Cola’s brands in North America. It will then report back to the company to yield insights into how to improve or tweak marketing, and determine consumer sentiment about specific products.

Kerry Tressler, a Coca-Cola spokeswoman, said:

“[Our goal is] to identify a consistent agency and format for conducting social-media monitoring,” Ms. Tressler said. “[We want] to yield the most information about what consumers are saying about our brands, so we know what they are looking for.”

Forrester’s Social Maturity model

Social Media is still very nascent, this is the conclusion of Forrester’s report called Accelerating Your Social Maturity: How To Move From Social Experimentation To Business Transformation. The research learned that large organizations tend to go through common stages of change as they adopt and use social technologies for business. Forrester has called this process of change “Social Maturity”.

Coca Cola finds itself in the Early Adopters phase:

These leaders (think Starbucks, Best Buy, and Coca Cola) have already coordinated their social organization and are now focusing on optimizing their social media activities – from improved processes to more advanced metrics to integration with other marketing activity. The next big step for this group is to determine who within the organization is best suited for using social applications to solve customer problems (their HEROes) and for the shepherd to help lead the creation of a plan for empowering all relevant employees with social media.

Evidence and insight-based strategies

To accelerate its Social Maturity further, they should not only look at improving marketing, but using Social Media for a broader spectrum.

Mining Social Media data will enable better customer-centricity, because  strategies, planning, marketing, new product development and much more are being –iteratively- feedbacked by what people are telling about the brands and products.

“Better” customer-centricity because Social Media data beholds much information, on a continuous  pace at a lower cost than conventional research. The organization is being informed bottom-up, locally, instead of centrally top-down. This contextual information increases effectiveness of the business output.

The very concept of a successful global brand now arises bottom-up across several locations at once. If not, the brand fails.

It’s a logical step forward for Coca-Cola and others in FMCG. Heineken is another company that is giving Social Media an important place.

Cees van Lede, chairman of Heineken’s supervisory board, describes it as “a substantial shift” in the group’s strategy to build awareness for its global brands using social media.

By Gianluigi Cuccureddu

About the author:

Gianluigi CuccuredduGianluigi Cuccureddu, contributing editor, is an experienced writer specializing in innovation, open business, new media and marketing. He is also Managing Partner of the 90:10 Group, a global Open Business consultancy, which helps clients open their activity directly and indirectly to external stakeholders through the use of social media, its data and technologies for the purpose of competitive advantages in marketing, service- and product innovation.