Tweets for Coke
Last year, Coca-Cola and The Cyranos McCann agency launched an intriguing attitude test in Spain. The Coke Tweet Machine allowed people to pay for a Coke with their digital footprint – specifically their tweets. After requesting their twitter @username, the vending machine in El Prat de Llobregat ran a quick sentiment analysis on a consumer’s past tweets and the more positive they were, the lower the price the machine offered them for a Coke. Ostensibly the goal of the exercise was to increase the positivity in a town suffering from the economic crisis, but the idea might have broader implications for marketers.
Can consumers be entreated to view their social media activity as a currency? If tweets, likes and shares are valuable to a company, could companies benefit from sharing that value with the sharer? Social psychology would suggest that this would be an extremely valuable way for brands to request payment as it creates a self-perception in the mind of the consumer. The consumer thinks to himself, “if I valued this product enough to add my reputation to it, I must truly be a fan.” Consistency bias would then suggest that that consumer is more likely to follow through to brand loyalty in the future. This is in addition to the more traditional marketing effects of the social media on friends and followers.
Data Collection Implications
Furthermore, the Coke example shows how social marketing can combine data collection with viral marketing. Before emulating this campaign, a number of issues should be addressed. First, does the campaign seem authentic and organic? The Coke example works because positivity has been aligned with the Coke brand positioning for decades. “Have a Coke and a Smile” now just has a digital expression of the smile. Second, does the use of social data feel fair to the consumer? Most consumers would likely feel like collection and analysis of their tweets (which are publicly available) is a fair price for a Coke. Data collection in this manner is likely to fail if this fairness test isn’t passed. Last, do you have informed consent of the consumers? The value proposition of trading analysis of tweets for consumer goods is an easy one to understand, but analysis of social data, particularly if it starts to directly involve one’s social network, is a risky bet for brands. Without informed consent and active choice of the consumer, a campaign could backfire, with consumers feeling like they have been used as an advertiser by the brand.
Harnessing Social Data
The final critical piece of the puzzle is whether the data collected is actually useful. Some potential uses of social data and datafication for a brand may be: 1) understanding how their products are perceived by a certain demographic; 2) learning who are the brand advocates and connectors that might lead opinion in a community; 3) identifying opportunities or trouble-spots in brand perception; or 4) testing a broader marketing campaign amongst a smaller population. If the trouble spots can be avoided, using social data, while providing a benefit to consumers, can be a win-win.