Social media’s ability to boost sales has come into question this month, with one of the world’s biggest brands claiming that online buzz from the likes of Facebook and Twitter has little impact of brand sales.
Revealed at Advertising Research Foundation's Re:think 2013 conference in New York last week, the study from Coca-Cola i indicates that social media buzz has no measurable impact on short-term sales, but online display ads work.
Speaking at the conference, Eric Schmidt, senior manager-marketing strategy and insights at Coca-Cola, reported the results of the soft-drink giant’s own internal numbers at a meeting of the Advertising Research Foundation.
When buzz sentiment data is applied against the same metrics as other digital media, “we didn’t see any statistically significant relationship between our buzz and our short-term sales,” he says. At most, social media buzz only impacted sales by a factor of 0.01%.
Coca-Cola has more than 61 million Facebook followers and 700,000 Twitter followers.
The most effective vehicles remain television advertising and placements, along with digital display advertising, radio advertising, and search.
However, social media buzz is only part of the story. In a company post following up on Schmidt’s revelation, Wendy Clark, senior vice president of integrated marketing communications and capabilities at Coca-Cola, said that buzz is only part of the marketing big picture:
“None of our plans are simply social, or TV, or mobile or experiential. On the contrary, it’s the combination of owned, earned, shared and paid media connections – with social playing a crucial role at the heart of our activations – that creates marketplace impact, consumer engagement, brand love and brand value. We’ve known this for some time.”
She notes that her company’s target consumers – teens and young adults – are multiple-screen users. “This means the TV is on, a laptop is open and a smartphone is in hand. For marketers, this requires having a single, integrated conversation across those screens. When we do this well, we create significantly higher impact than any of those screens could do on their own.”