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I have just read about Coca Cola’s recent Twitter fail at the Super Bowl (and campaign website fail also). A question comes to mind: could the brand have anticipated *and* avoided the issues experienced as it quickly reached its (increased) tweet publishing limit on the social network?

In my view, yes. On two grounds.

First, given the sheer size of the audience targeted on the day of the event, I feel it was ill-advised to use Twitter as a communication tool to thank *individual* users who were voting in its game. The risk of reaching the allowed hourly and daily limits was very real. An eventuality that became all the more real when voters on D Day were redirected to vote via Twitter… when the campaign site crashed under the heavy traffic.

What was the size of the audience I hear you ask?

Enormous. On the day of the incident only, as the ad aired at the start of the game, over 108 million Super Bowl TV viewers (vs 100 million estimated) tuned in and were able to vote for their favourite team through the campaign site and the brand’s social media channels.
Add to this the fans of the brand as content was seeded across all its social channels leading up to the game and during the game to get the voting and engagement going: nearly 60 millions Facebook fans, 0.5M+ Twitter followers plus YouTube viewers on top and without counting Tumblr and Instagram.

Not surprisingly, the levels of participation were no less impressive:

On its website, Coca Cola boasts “over 11 million fan engagements” and continues on with “Over one million fans visited CokeChase.com to vote for the characters they liked best. More impressively, those visitors stayed on the site, each participating in an average of eight “sabotages” against opposing factions. While the company anticipated fewer than one million total sabotages, nearly 7.3 million were performed”.

So, did Coca Cola simply become a victim of its own success having underestimated user engagement levels?

Yes but not just.

Regardless of audience sizes, I don’t feel it was necessary to thank voters participating via Twitter. In fact, it would have been ok not to thank them on Twitter in my opinion.

As a frequent user of social media networks, Twitter doesn’t strike me as being the right forum to do this i.e. I would expect a brand to thank me personally for my participation on Facebook but not on Twitter, where this kind of 1:1 interactions are pretty scarce in my own experience.
I feel Twitter is used at its best mainly as a source of up-to-the minute news bites – and when I retweet any of the tweets I receive from the brands, bloggers, etc I follow, I don’t expect them to thank me in return. I guess that’s how I have been conditioned.

As for Twitter’s response and policy on campaigns of that scale – I was relieved to read that Twitter expects advertisers to know better: “For Twitter, the issue boils down to protecting user experience and making sure that people and brands are tweeting in a judicious way”.
Judicious = sensible and Coca Cola was nothing but sensible on this one occasion.

I was equally pleased to find out that it is not Twitter’s intention to create special accounts with super high daily publishing limits. This would equal to a form of spamming in my world and as a Twitter fan, I would be devastated if it ever were to turn into Facebook any time soon, where the level of “advertising spam” is driving away users.

Finally, this one marketing glitch on Coca Cola’s part doesn’t take away the brilliance they have otherwise demonstrated in the planning and execution of their Mirage campaign – this truly was a marketing coup on many grounds and a fine example of how Social TV works – more on this later!

For now, check out the ad that kicked off this one-of-a-kind TV-and-social-media game if you haven’t seen it yet:

Advertisements

I have just come across 2 recent studies on how social commerce is trending and impacting on sales in the US & Europe (the most insightful of which I am sharing with you here).

2 of their key findings which stuck out for me are:

#1 – 90% of the conversations about brands are still happening offline vs a meagre 10% online (source: InTV how to harness the power of conversations).

In other words, offline WOM still prevails by far and this behaviour is unlikely to change anytime soon with face-to-face chats with spouses, relatives and friends remaining the #1 influencers on purchase decisions, not the social banter.

And –

#2 – Social media very seldomly directly leads to an online sale (ref. low conversion rates/direct referrals).

This is not to say however that social media hasn’t got a role to play – it may well trigger a conversation in the offline world with your loved and trusted ones, ultimately leading to a sale. So still worth investing into in order to influence/guide those offline conversations.

The problem for advertisers then becomes how to measure the true impact/ROI of social conversations on their sales – if at all possible. Any ideas, anyone?

In a further effort to differentiate from its online rivals (Wal-Mart, Amazon, BestBuy) and combat showrooming by having products that can’t be bought elsewhere online, Target has just made 6 new brands exclusive to its online store. This move follows another bold decision by the retailer only earlier this month to offer its customers a year-round online price match. This only shows Target’s ongoing committment to tapping into the ever increasing online shopping uptake as well as its determination to protect its customer base from other online retailers and keep its customers coming back for more as much as possible.
Australian retailers may want to take a page from this retailer’s approach but also other US retailers (check out Walmart’s response to showrooming) on how to grow online sales.

Personally I am a huge fan of both Walmart and Target’s agile approach in the online shopping space – given their size, their ability to quikcly respond to and embrace consumer behaviour changes is to be commended.

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