Social Media: A Matter of Perspective

Reading that Coca-Cola wasn’t able to correlate short-term sales to social buzz was painful. Millions of dollars were spent to achieve that conclusion. Coca-Cola is about is big as a brand can get. They do business in over 200 countries. They are a part of world culture. All of this means that they’ve made some smart decisions over the years. In fact, companies like Coca-Cola are successful because they make more good decisions than bad ones. In fact, it would be hard to pinpoint all of their good decisions over the years. The bad ones stick out like a sore thumb and two that come to mind are New Coke and social media.

To be fair, I’m not picking out Coca-Cola. I  suspect that every major brand in the world has the wrong perspective on social media.

There are a few things to keep in mind:

  • All media is social
  • The definition of social media can’t be confined to social networks/utilities/apps
  • Social media is the new center
  • Marketing has always been a social activity
  • Social media isn’t new

Social media’s failure point for big brands its placement in their marketing matrix. Social media’s digital side is fairly new. For some of us it stretches back 13 or 14 years, for others it  is a more recent concern. It is expected that an old-school CMO would place “social media’ into the new media bucket and reserve any real involvement until every other brand has proven its mettle. Even more, it seems like large brands treat social media like its a tool of nerds and dorks, rather than a legitimate form of communication. In fact, social media shouldn’t be looked at as an ancillary, supportive or secondary channel, it should be viewed as the center of everything that a brand does to win customers.

Yes, social media is the center of a brand’s marketing universe. If you understand social media, this is a simple concept to comprehend.

Wikipedia says: Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers. It is a critical business function for attracting customers.

If you take the communication as the most important component of that definition,  you should understand what I’m talking about. In fact, marketing as most of us understand it is bigger than the advertising that we buy. Advertising should move, compel and invoke thoughts to a level that affects behaviors. Brands are built on more than good advertising alone. Big names in every industry have become such because they’ve affected social change on a mass behavior. Think about it. As humans we’re not born to need Coca-Cola, yet most of us love it. It is a part of American culture and is recognized across the globe. Coca-Cola has done an amazing job of advertising their products across the globe, but they’ve done a better job with social engagement. Around the world people align themselves with the Coca-Cola brand, more for what it means than what it actually is.

So, I think it is safe to say that Coca-Cola is one of the oldest social media marketers around.

If they truly want to harness the power of digital social media channels, they don’t need to look too far to get things right. They just need a perspective shift to help everything fall in line.


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