The key to marketing through Facebook is simple: engagement and interaction. But how these two tasks are accomplished isn’t done through simply posting a product photo. It’s a tactical process that requires a company to become less of a corporate identity and more of a business of the people. One such brand that has done this successfully is Coca-Cola.

A Coca-Cola Community

Over the years Coca-Cola has tried many different marketing campaigns such as its polar bear and Santa Claus holiday commercials, endorsements from celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Elton John and Bill Cosby, gold colored cans for the 2010 Olympic Games and the more recent anti-obesity campaign.
Although effective, most of these commercials and promotions only showed how popular or ‘in-tune’ with the times the company was; in order to a be a social media success Coca-Cola had to take a different approach when developing a social marketing strategy.

Coca-Cola, which joined Facebook in 2008, has garnered over 60 million likes in just under five years by focusing less on straightforward product promotion and more on its fans. Marketers have created a community that is “a collection of your stories showing how people from around the world have helped make Coke into what it is today.” As a result of this philosophy, Coca-Cola's success has been achieved through statutes and photos that encourage engagement and interaction, supporting causes and integrating other forms of social media.

Engagement is Simple with Words and Photos

On Facebook two of the easiest ways to reach an audience and build a fanbase are through a status update or photo that encourages comments, likes and shares. Whatever is posted has to suggest a sense of community so that fans feel there is a connection between themselves, the company and other fans that that doesn't solely revolve around a product. For Coca-Cola this task is accomplished by simple facts, such as “When you're looking up at the moon, half of the world is looking at the moon with you. Can you feel the togetherness rays?", which is a status update from from 2011. This status has 18,690 likes, four shares and 1,413 comments.

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Another way that a brand can engage with its fans is through a photo that tells a story through the image that is presented. An example of this is the current Coca-Cola cover image which shows that the drink isn't just for a particular person, but for all people at different times in their lives. This collage, which is made up of user submitted photos has 6,654 likes, 838 shares and 812 comments.


Photos and text should not only be used separately, sometimes status updates that include photos can be just as engaging.

As it is getting closer to the summer months, a good way for a brand or company to promote themselves and still be promoting conversation among fans is by referring to a popular summer activity. For Coca-Cola this is skateboarding with a photo which focuses on the soft-drink, but clearly shows someone at a skate park in the background. The photo is partnered with the status: “Skateboarding is a great way to break a sweat. What's your favourite skate park?”

While Coca-Cola could have just posted the photo with the first sentence which would suggest that the drink is a good choice when someone is thirsty, by adding the question it encourages people to comment and share their experiences.

Connecting Through a Mutually Supported Cause

Another way to connect with fans and followers is through a cause that is mutually supported. An example is the 2011 can redesign that featured polar bears showing Coca-Cola's support for the endangered species. On its Facebook page, the company promoted the can design as well posting videos from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). In doing this, Coca-Cola shows visitors and fans of the page that the company isn't just about promoting itself, but that it cares about important causes. In turn, this can spark positive comments from fans, attract more fans and lead to conversation as well as boosting product sales.

Bring Social Media Together

Since Facebook isn't the only social media site out there, companies have to find a way to interact with fans across other mediums and bring these mediums together.

One way that Coca-Cola connects different social media sites to Facebook is through contests and having fans share photos on Instagram. Once such contest that is currently running is for the Muchmusic Video Awards in Toronto where fans have the opportunity to win free tickets by taking a picture of someone that inspires them and sharing the photo with the hashtag #TakeMe2MMVAs.

This integration of social media shows fans and followers that the company is willing to connect with fans across multiple social platforms and reward them for interacting with Coca-Cola through these channels.


The Instagram contest and skateboarding photo

While every fan page can garner a few likes and content shares, as a whole, the basic principle of Facebook marketing is to make sure that whatever is posted, whether it be a photo or status update promotes social sharing and conversation. In doing this, not only can a brand expand its fan base, but use Facebook and other social media sites as tools to improve the overall social reach and develop better marketing strategies by seeing what is and isn't engaging.

Social media Marketing image courtesy Inq (Shutterstock)