Liquid storytelling earns Coca-Cola praise among content marketers

Craig Hodges

Craig Hodges is the founder and CEO of King Content, Australia’s most awarded digital content marketing agency. With more than 20 years' experience in the content industry, Craig has worked in magazines, publishing, Internet radio and Web development before embracing his true passion - digital content marketing.

Content marketing is entering the next phase of branded content strategy, courtesy of behemoth brands such as Coca-Cola and Red Bull.

Speaking at the Content Marketing World 2013 conference in September, Jonathan Mildenhall, Coca-Cola’s VP of Global Advertising Strategy, reflected on the transformation of Coca-Cola from beverage company to content brand.

Two years ago Coca-Cola, led by Jonathan Mildenhall, forayed into the world of content marketing – defining their new content strategy as being in “the business of beverages and entertainment”. Looking back, Mildenhall has captivated audiences with a new, consumer-driven content platform that is decidedly unlike the Coke brand of 2010.

Building a site dedicated to their customer’s journey with Coca-Cola, the site – named Coca-Cola Journey – houses home-grown stories that represent their brand mantra of ‘living positively’. Their content is customer driven, harnessing the voice of the consumer which they then use to steer their business objectives – known as ‘liquid marketing’. This to and fro with the consumer makes use of viral ideas that already exist in their audience, snowballing content generation which is ensured to sit favourably in the community.

The time of a one-way, static conversation is over, Mildenhall claims. Dynamic storytelling – including serial, multi-faceted, fan-engagement and immersion – heighten your user’s experience as well as compel action. Thus, keeping the content creation cogs churning.

Mildenhall revealed that Coca-Cola’s maneuverability around business goals has been rewarded, with the site averaging 1.2 million unique visitors per month and attracting 40,000 shares as of July this year. The strategic spreading of their user-generated content is an example of cross-platform content distribution done well, playing host to videos, infographics, articles, and accompanied by easy social-sharing functions.

“Data becomes the new soil from which our ideas will grow and ultimately lead to liquid and linked creative content” says Mildenhall. Coca-Cola’s content marketing approach encourages bravery and embraces risks because they want to be seen as an incubator of creativity. Coca-Cola itself even recognises that Red Bull – successful content engineers in their own right – serve as their innovation inspiration.

So, what is Coca-Cola’s formula for content success? Mildenhall revealed that Coca-Cola segment their content creation into: 70 per cent low-risk content; 20 per cent broad-scale and proven content; and 10 per cent high-risk. Mildenhall claims that this strategic risk taking allows Coca-Cola’s content to be constantly evolving, allowing them to connect with their audience in new ways.

While the company has had some costly missteps along the way – to the tune of $700K for a failed Fanta campaign – the continued success of their innovative content program once again highlights the need for brands to abandon rigid, product-only marketing approaches and embrace agile content creation.

King Content, a Sydney based content marketing agency has partnered with the Content Marketing Institute to bring Content Marketing World to Sydney again in April 2014.

Tags: content marketing

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