“Everything old is new again” is the first thing that comes to mind when reading this story from Ad Age about Coca-Cola hiring an agency to do “social media monitoring.”
Coca-Cola North America has selected 360i to handle social-media monitoring for all of its brands.
The agency, owned by Dentsu Holdings USA, will be responsible for formulating a consistent way of keeping track of what consumers are saying across Twitter, Facebook and other channels. 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. Billion-dollar brands such as Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Sprite, Minute Maid, Powerade, Vitaminwater and Dasani will be monitored.
“Coca-Cola North America is excited to scale our efforts in the social-listening space,” said Linda Cronin, Coca-Cola’s Integrated Communications Director. “While we have been conducting social listening for the past few years, we decided that now is the right time to step up our investment in the space.”
Coca-Cola North America launched the “listening review” earlier this year with the goal of identifying a consistent format for monitoring social media. “By consolidating our listening efforts through 360i we are able to ensure quality and consistency across our entire portfolio of brands,” Ms. Cronin said. “Social listening provides another important source of information so that we can best understand our consumers and their interests.”
Back before the internet and Google, large companies would pay media clipping services to literally cut out articles from publications that referenced their company or products. Stay-at-home moms would get paid to take the scissors to daily papers, trade magazines, general interest magazines and organize the articles and send them to some poor person in PR who would dutifully fill out reports of monthly mentions and summarize the months media coverage.
Those days are gone, and now, the stay-at-home mom is a content creator, mommy blogger, and is actually creating the content and monetizing it with ads and even sponsorships. Walmart even has their own cadre of Mom-bloggers with their Mom’s know how site (in beta) pimping and reviewing the products that they sell in their stores.
Which brings us to question the whole concept of “social media monitoring”- social media isn’t something you delegate if you truly understand it. Social media is supposed to be an ongoing, 2 way conversation about your products and services with the people who use/consume them. Outsourcing this service is like disconnecting your ears from your mouth- and pretending to be in a conversation.
While huge brands like Coca-Cola obviously have a opportunity to become major players in the social media arena, the real question is what do they plan to do with all this information gleaned from their “monitoring” and how fast can they react?
Granted many large brands have made large stumbles in the social media space, of late, the epic #FAILs of Netflix come to mind, but the real key to social media is how do you want to engage not monitor.
As someone who monitors the moves of marketers in the social media space, this is just another example of a brand not understanding the social media space and how to integrate it into their corporate culture.