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It pays to know what people are saying

Background #1 The Coca-Cola Holiday Mystery [original blog post]

The Coca-Cola "Holidays are coming" marks the start of the festive season for a lot of people. The iconic lorries making the delivery of Coke is currently in its 4th year of revival, but when did it begin? I can certainly remember seeing it as a child in the 1990s but I couldn't give you an exact date, such is the nature of childhood memory.

It was a tweet asking just this that made me really want to know this answer. Sure, it's not a burning question, but it's one of those questions that I knew would bug me until I got the answer. Getting that answer you think would have been easy, what with Google knowing the answer to EVERYTHING, but I was wrong.

Trawling through the search results, Google drew a blank ... I know. It happens, sometimes ... so I've heard ... OK, it's never happened to me before, and there was only one thing for me to do - I picked up the phone and dialled the Coca-Cola press office. Yes, such a massive internet search failure deserved this outlandish action, only I was thwarted once again as they didn't know! Thankfully, their PR agency did. Result!

The original version of the iconic Holidays Are Coming ad first aired in the US on Thanksgiving Day 1995, before being rolled out in the UK that year. The current version first aired in 1997. 


Background #2 Twitter Power! The fabbity @OECD [
original blog post]

I was a wee bit stressed out as I was solely in charge of the magazine, which was at the frantic last-minute, we're-ridiculously-close-to-signing-this-off stage. I had pages and pages of amend notes to go through, as well as stacks of proofs in front of me; I had copy to write on space exploration and mountain climbing - not my two most knowledgeable subjects - and I also had a 329 page hot-off-the-press document to read from the OECD to update some article stats.

Now, I'm no stranger to Economics, but after an hour of trying to find out the general government net financial liabilities forecast (as a % of GDP) for 2010 for the US, Japan, the UK and the OECD total and not seeing it amongst the pages and pages of figures, I really was ready to cry.

So, I tweeted my frustrations. Like you do. And amazingly enough the OECD saw this tweet and were able to explain why I couldn't find that stat - it was in the statistical annex that hadn't been published at the time I tweeted. Hurrah!


So, what's my point?

Coca-Cola is one of the most recognised brands on the planet. They have an active, official Twitter account where they do follow back their fans (it doesn't always happen). They appear to answer tweets that mention @cocacola, but I'm not so sure if they actively search out Coca-Cola related social media activity. I say this because they didn't pick up on the tweet asking about the campaign start date. They could have answered this query quite quickly without me going through the press office and PR agency - not the most appropriate channels for general customers, or curious Tweeters for that matter.

The OECD, on the other hand, are an international organisation that brings together governments of various states committed to democracy and the market economy ... funnily enough, I'm neither of those, as many people aren't. Despite this though, they have someone looking after their Twitter account who actively keeps an eye out for all types of people who mention them, not just important people related to their sector. This is an amazing and brilliant use of Twitter by an organisation that doesn't necessarily have to bother due to the nature of their organisation, yet still does.

Instances like the OECD is one of the reasons why I love Twitter - when companies get it right, it's amazing to witness the dialogue between "business" and "consumers" that's only become possible because of the social media boom. And, it's a win-win for both parties - a customer engaged in a positive manner is a happy customer, one who is likely to support the brand either through personal consumption or word of mouth recommendations. I, for one, can't see any harm in that. If Coca-Cola had found this tweet, they could have capitalised on it and encouraged customers to share their campaign memories or other favourite Coca-Cola adverts, for example. It pays to know what your customers are saying.

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