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How To Own Social Media: Always Coca-Cola

John Waldron Digital Marketing 5 Comments

Big brands with big budgets have a lot of spare time and resources to experiment with social media marketing. They hire the most innovative (and expensive) marketers in the world, and then spend lots of time (and money) stamping their presence on the biggest social platforms the World Wide Web has to offer.

Of course they do. Facebook has 1.44 billion users. Twitter averages out at 236 million monthly active users. Instagram has 300 million. YouTube – 1 billion.

These stats are incredible. Any brand – including yours – would be foolish not to try and tap into such a bustling captive market.

But, with so much potential – and indeed so many users – the question has to be, how on Earth do you start trying to reach them all?

Learn Steal From The Masters…

Yes. Some brands have the social media game absolutely nailed. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that I was writing a post for markITwrite entitled ‘How To Build A Super-engaged Instagram Following’ where I made absolutely no bones about drawing your attention to Oreo’s Instagram campaign and their truly inspiring hashtag #PlaywithOreo.

Here’s what I wrote:

“What Oreo do so brilliantly on Instagram, is not only produce regular, high quality photographs of delicious cookies that everyone loves to eat, they also exercise a little wit and innovation with exactly how an Oreo cookie may be used, and indeed photographed. And, what is more, they have created the hashtag #PlaywithOreo where followers of the brand can do the very same – and they do.”

The purpose of that blog – and indeed this one – was to not just encourage you to take inspiration from Oreo’s campaign, but to actually, actively and shamelessly steal their ideas.

Artists have been doing it for years – and in fact one of the greatest artists that has ever lived officially gave all aspiring young go-getters permission to do it too (“Good artists copy; Great artists steal” – Pablo Picasso).

And now I’m giving all you keen and aspiring social media marketers out there permission to do the same.

Here’s the truth…


You heard it here first, people!!


Coca-Cola is one of the most recognised brands in the whole wide world. It’s one of the most valuable, too, weighing in at an impressive $56 billion and with an annual revenue of $23.1 billion.

Here are the top 5 brands according to Forbes:


What you will notice from this list is how much each company spends on advertising. Despite being only the 4th biggest brand on the planet (I know, right – loser!!), Coca-Cola has the biggest marketing budget of the lot, measuring in at a cool $3.5 billion.

That’s a hell of a lot, but it’s obviously paying off for them.

So, the question now is – what can we, as social media marketers, learn steal from one of the world’s true giants of the marketing game?

How Coca-Cola Owns Social Media

Let’s quickly take a look at Coke’s following on social media:

Facebook – 91 million

Twitter – 3.03 million

Instagram – 690 thousand

YouTube – 546 thousand

Ok, so when you’re as big as Coca-Cola, half the battle of building an audience has already been done. But only half, mind you.

Social networks are very particular areas, with very particular users of each particular network. As such, no matter how big or small your company is, you need to employ a slightly different tactic on each of your channels, yet still maintain an overall cohesive brand message right across each and every one of your campaigns.

So let’s now look at each social network individually and see what we can learn steal from each.


Oddly enough, if you scan through Coke’s Facebook page, you’ll see that the brand isn’t actually all that active on the network. Their last post was a month ago, in fact. Here it is:


Now, one suspects that with 91 million followers on Facebook, and no doubt a rather rich budget with Facebook Advertising, Coke might just be happy to schedule their ads long in advance and largely be done with it. I know that I’ve seen Coca-Cola advertisements pop up on my timeline within the last few days, so there’s no doubt that just a handful of posts a month – or even none at all – is all that the brand uses Facebook for.

But, what Coke gets absolutely right on the platform is its piggybacking of existing trends (and this is something that Oreo does brilliantly, too, incidentally). Obviously Coca-Cola are official sponsors of the Rugby World Cup, as can be seen from the advert above, so it of course makes sense that they should produce an ad of this kind (in fact it’s probably a contractual agreement).

But, take a look at this from back in May on the 35th anniversary of Pac-Man:



Idea Stolen – keep an eye out for any special dates that are coming up, and create a bespoke ad that rides on the back of it (though remember to only select things that are relevant to your audience).


Coke and their #ShareaCoke hashtag rule Twitter. In fact, their whole #ShareaCoke campaign is nothing short of pure genius. By printing people’s names onto their products, they have managed to create a level of personalisation that is practically unrivalled anywhere else in the marketing world.

What’s particularly nifty about this type of tactic is its ability to generate crowd-sourced content. Just like the #PlaywithOreo hashtag, where cookie fans come up with all sorts of innovative and amusing ways to play with Oreo biscuits, Coke gets its fans to share its products with each other (i.e. buy one another a bottle of coke). It’s very clever.

Here’s my favourite fan-created Tweet of the day:


And of course, Coke make the most of what’s happening right now:

Idea Stolen – Start a cool trend by using your product in an unconventional way, and then encourage your fans to create their own versions.


Coke’s approach to Instagram is once again to get innovative with their branding. The classic red and white labelling is seen – or at least suggested – in each post. And, once more, they like to piggyback what’s trending. Apparently it’s Shark Week in the States – the 28th annual week-long programming schedule created by the Discovery Channel, solely featuring shows that are all to do with sharks.

So, what do Coca-Cola do…? This…


Just a simple illustration, but it’s got Coke written all over it, subtly reminding people to stock the fridge before they sit down to watch TV tonight.

Another interesting hack that Coca-Cola uses is its self-association with happiness. It’s such a simple but nonetheless very effective idea, that of course comes part and parcel with its own hashtag – #ChooseHappiness.

Now, you’d want to buy a happy drink, wouldn’t you?

In the Instagram below, Coke decided to jump on board of an existing hashtag, however – #MakeItHappy


Idea Stolen – Associate your product and your brand with something positive. Create a hashtag, and start reaping the extra likes and traffic.

Do you like Coca-Cola? What ideas would you steal from some of their other campaigns – and don’t be shy, just remember that all great marketers do it.

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John Waldron

John Waldron is a writer with markITwrite who regularly writes on lifestyle and technology. He is also a fiction writer who has penned a number of short stories, play scripts, and stories for children. He is the author of the foraging blog, First Time Foragers: Recipes and Stories for Beginners. He has a First-Class Honours Degree in English with Creative Writing and an MA in Professional Writing from University College Falmouth, Cornwall.

Comments 5

  1. Ryan Tracey

    Thanks for sharing those insights, John.

    I’m surprised by Coke’s lack of activity on its Facebook page, though I take your point about their piggybacking of existing trends.

    Given the time-consuming nature of content marketing (when done right), I’m wondering if Coke would consider empowering some of their most passionate customers to co-manage the page on their behalf.

    In “How not to do social media” I describe how Streets did this with incredible success for one of its ice-cream labels. The outcome being that a confectionary cowboy has more fans than the national football team!

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  3. Shauna McGee Kinney

    John and Kerry,

    In the industrial space, look at how GE (General Electric) has navigated and divided between consumer sentiment and their industrial-sized customers. GE has even spent the time to do some country specific content. They’ve bridged the website and a handful of online marketing channels. – consumer articles – industrial and infrastructure customers – tumblr

    There’s more, but you get the idea with these 3 examples?

    I recommend my engineering, construction and tech clients “emulate” (not imitate – but kind of like steal) GE’s great techniques.

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