According to Sarah, this successful campaign — which served as an authentic moment for them to connect with younger audiences and share meaningful stories — sparked a conversation about how they could overhaul their social strategy to be more holistic and encapsulate Coca-Cola’s core brand values.
In mid-November, that new holistic strategy went live via Coca-Cola’s #RefreshTheFeed brand repositioning on World Kindness Day.
“We had decided from those early conversations to create a visual look and feel that was more laser focused with the type of messaging and content we put out there and how that content makes people feel,” said Sarah. “When we look at Coca-Cola and who we are as a nearly 135-year-old company, we’ve always stood for optimism, inclusivity, and connection. And when we looked across our social channels, we felt like some of our messaging was a little inconsistent.”
Looking at at their consumer audiences, they found that people — especially younger consumers — were seeking out positive messages on social media. And so they worked to reposition their content and messaging to focus specifically on ways they could uplift their audiences.
“Which is a great for Coke, because Coke stands for moments of happiness and bringing people together,” explained Sarah.
In their initial concept, Sarah and her cross-functional partners wanted to create a moment where the brand alluded to the fact that something was coming on their social platforms.
Then on the Friday before World Kindness Day, they went dark on their feeds — archiving all of their previous posts on Instagram and pushing their content on Twitter and Facebook below the fold to make things look like they were refreshing or loading on the feeds.
Then, once they had built excitement and intrigue around their “dark” channels, Sarah and her team launched their new, uplifting content.
“On World Kindness Day, we published about a hundred pieces of optimistic content that we created both within Coke and through partnerships with four known street artists to help us amplify and spread the message,” said Sarah.
She said they wanted to make sure the artists were a good fit with not only what the team wanted to do visually, but also with the values Coke wanted to put forth in their new messaging.
“The look and feel we were going for was sort of on the graphic design side, so it lent itself to more graphic artists and street artists,” explained Sarah. “But we also wanted artists who are fans and lovers of the brand. The artists we chose already spread positive messages through their own art. So it felt like a really good fit.”
Those artists shared the content they contributed across their own channels, and Coke partnered with micro influencers to raise awareness and excitement.
“We were also able to take the #RefreshTheFeed content and put it on our Times Square board — which is great for the holiday season,” said Sarah. “And internally, we refreshed our campus here in Atlanta with all the new content.”
According to Sarah, the refresh has been hugely successful across their social media channels.
“The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive, which has been really great to see,” said Sarah. “We are fortunate enough to be able to reach half a million people every day organically. So, being able to provide those moments of optimism and uplift to our current audiences has been great. But then to see it spread far beyond that is truly a great feeling.”
She shared the intrigue they were able to build leading up to the launch was one of the most surprising moments of success. “We had no paid media behind our channels when we went dark,” explained Sarah. “So the number of people who found it and engaged with it in a really meaningful way was fun and surprising to us and just reinforced that people are seeking out our content.”
Successfully tackling an undertaking of this scale in only a few months was a huge team effort.
For Sarah, who leads their North America Social Center which manages social for 10 of their brands in North America, getting this social refresh to the finish line meant massive efforts from lots of different disciplines and functions within that holistic team.
“It really takes a village here, which is probably one of the best things about a company like Coca-Cola,” she said.
As they continue their new strategy into 2019, Sarah and her team plan to be more purposeful about being the most optimistic brand on social.
They are kicking off the next wave of campaigns in line with their new strategy for the holiday season. “What we’re getting ready to do is in the same vein as #RefreshTheFeed, but leans itself into the holiday season and the spirit of optimism and the spirit of giving,” said Sarah.
From the launch on World Kindness Day, Sarah and her team also received interest from other artists who wanted to participate and see how their can work to extend #RefreshTheFeed through the holiday season and into 2019.
“So far, we’ve seen a really great outpouring of support and people wanting to see how they can be a part of it and help spread the message,” said Sarah.
She’s excited to see how the content continues to develop over the next year.
To anyone looking to get started on such an undertaking, Sarah said to dive right in.
“Don’t be scared to do something new and different and take a step back and look more holistically at the messages you’re putting out there,” said Sarah. “You have to try to decide what you want consumers to feel and take away when they come to your channels, and move on that.”
“And don’t be overwhelmed to tackle something that might feel big, because as you get into it the, the amount of energy and reinvigoration it brings to your team far outweighs any of the difficulty.”
Sarah Traverso has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2018. You can follow her on LinkedIn.