Coke and Pepsi Add Social Fizz

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Coca-Cola and arch-rival Pepsi are very much on the same page these days — and that page is all about social media.

As we’ve noted, Pepsi has been tapping consumers for ideas via such social engagement programs as DEWmocracy and the Pepsi Refresh Project. Pepsi Loot is its latest social and digital experiment, this time with a Foursquare-powered app to lure music fans with free songs in exchange for checking into establishments that serve Pepsi.

PepsiCo’s SVP and chief engagement officer, Frank Cooper, feels a company can truly innovate when it decides to “harness the power of your consumer base and allow them to lead in brand decision making.”

That’s where Coke is headed as well.[more]

The beverage giant is taking social media so seriously that it’s reducing its dependence on websites and upping its social media activity. In the U.K., Coca-Cola just announced reducing its websites to two online hubs in order to focus on social media, including its World Cup and Olympics outreach.

Lucy Keown, head of corporate communications for Coca-Cola UK, tells Marketing Week, “Having a website is important but so are the conversations you have where people really want to be. For us, what¹s important is making the content that people want, but also knowing they don¹t always want to come directly to your website.”

In a similar vein, Natalie Johnson, digital communications manager for Coca-Cola, tells Popsop.com: “When you think about what your homepage is… it’s not necessarily just your brand page. It’s Google.com. It’s Digg. It’s Twitter. It’s YouTube. It’s Facebook. It’s all of these other sites, because that’s where people are going to obtain their information.”

Having recently relaunched our Web Watch feature as Digital Watch, we couldn’t agree more. Coke’s “Open Happiness” World Tour last year, which sent corporate-sponsored bloggers to over 200 countries, was the shape of things to come.

Now Coca-Cola corporate is doubling down on targeted social media activities, such as its eco-themed campaign to raise awareness of Earth Month in April and help support Ocean Conservancy. Through a Facebook application, users could “oceanize” themselves into an underwater photo. For every person who used the application, Coca-Cola donated $1 to Ocean Conservancy.

Coca-Cola has systematically been working social media, says Johnson, actively reviewing viral buzz to gauge public opinion on its brands and marketing, using a “blog squad” to react quickly, getting relevant messages and viral videos across the Internet, and making sure Coke is easy to find via Google, Facebook, and other channels.

It’s all about keeping awareness as high as possible for the number one brand in the world, and the aspiring best global brand.

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