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Coca-Cola launches Tweet-a-Coke as trackable social coupons gain

As a digital extension of the “Share a Coke” campaign, Coca-Cola enters into its first social commerce foray with the introduction of a Twitter program that enables users to send a soft drink to their friends for $5.

The “Tweet-a-Coke” promotion permits a link to be tweeted that, once opened, lets the recipient order a Coke at Regal Cinemas locations, the largest theatre circuit in the United States. To send the Coke, users must authenticate their Twitter account and enter credit card information.

“The notion of sending real value in the form of preloaded, redeemable, and trackable ‘coupons’ through social media is gaining traction,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce.  “I imagine it will be pretty likely that someone would go see a movie when they redeemed their tweeted Coke at a specific cinema.

“This proven, incremental, tracked foot traffic to a bricks-and-mortar location is the real power behind the campaign.

“Tracking the financial impact of marketing via social media has always been difficult. By linking mobile commerce and social, Coke and Twitter are likely trying to learn and then will iterate, as the data comes in,” he said. “Since redemption occurs at a third party who is a big retailer of Coca-Cola products, this will serve as a proven traffic driver, as well.”

New commerce channels
With social commerce technologies on the rise, the biggest challenge for social media marketers will be shifting their focus from branding to lead generation. Successful social marketing is becoming a more critical component of omnichannel strategies, and marketers have to become more creative if they want to fulfill the new potential of this commerce form.

Generous users gift a Coke using @TweetACoke, the word “enjoy” and their friend’s Twitter handle.

The program digitizes the national “Share” campaign which features 20-ounce bottles with the iconic Coca-Cola logo swapped out for 250 of the nation’s most popular names among teens and millennials.

The effort follows a similar program from Starbucks, which launched a beta program last October that let Twitter users buy $5 gift cards to send coffee to friends.

Twitter’s strength lies in its mobile convenience and its ability to bridge online and offline worlds. And while budgets for targeted online acquisition strategies such as clicks, leads and sales have traditionally been more valued and increased faster than those for social media brand campaigns, social tech that allows companies to trace path-to-purchase directly to an individual consumer is spiking renewed interest in using social media for measurable results.

With todays “always on” outlook, there exists scale for big changes to happen in social marketing tactics, as they are raising the stakes of social marketing, but they also ease the sales process by providing brands alternative and effective ways to interact with customers.

The ROI of social media
Companies rightfully wonder if “likes” and tweets translate into actual sales, and which platforms are most advantageous for them, if any at all.

Ecommerce system Shopify recently analyzed data from 37 million social media visits that led to 529,000 orders, and uncovered some interesting data points.

Facebook dominates as a source of social traffic and sales. Nearly two thirds of all social media visits come from Facebook, with an average of 85 percent of all orders on its managed storefronts stemming directly from.

Orders from Reddit increased 152 percent in 2013. And community style site Polyvore is generating the highest average order value ahead of Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Also noteworthy in this category is Instagram, which is also generating higher average orders than those same sites. This is especially impressive considering the only clickable links in Instagram are those in profile bios.

Earlier this year, leaked images from etailer showed a prospective platform called Twitter Commerce, which donned branded tweets that could be expanded to reveal a “buy” button for users to make purchases within the Twitter app. If this proves to be true, it would significantly impact the network’s role in the relationship between businesses and consumers, and disrupt traditional viewpoints on path-to-purchase.

A one-click purchase button would also insert social media into the realm of direct response and be a breakthrough in how brands market and sell to consumers.

Although it may seem outlandish, it is not really surprising that Twitter has a commerce platform in the works. Using social media to drive sales is becoming more common amongst merchants, and social networking sites are at the moment focusing on creating features that increase ROI for brands that utilize these channels for marketing.

Of the big players, Pinterest’s “gifts feed” is the most lucrative and features Product Pins with pricing, availability and buy links. And Instagram’s success with sponsored posts also positions it uniquely as a hub for brand engagement and awareness.

Building a community
There is no telling how long it may take for the official introduction of “buy” buttons, but brands can still take steps to shorten the path-to-purchase for consumers.

A common and popular method of social selling is inserting ecommerce links in tweets, pins and posts that feature a product image. IKEA most recently created a digital catalogue using Instagram as a free source of marketing. The only real effort required is tagging products. Once a product is discovered, the ease with which it can be shared is the platforms greatest selling point and one that brands should not ignore. Consumers are spending hundreds of minutes per month surfing fashion, food, crafts and more. This type of activity lends itself perfectly to help online retailers convert sales.

Instagram catalogue

While the possibilities seem endless, marketers must remember to evoke the community-building factor that drives consumers to their social pages in the first place. Creating a credible relationship with fans to prove to them the value a brand holds is the key to monetization.

This may be attained by first presenting a product that enhances some type of experience and then engaging users and allowing them to have control and participation rights in the social discovery process. Once familiarized, it is ok to utilize messaging that is more persuasive. But if consumers are not eased into the process, they may be turned off and a brand can lose credibility.

Social media works well as a gateway into sales, but must also provide sets of experiences and elicit feelings when interaction with a brand takes place.

“Facebook commerce largely flopped for retailers who tried it several years ago,” Mr. Kerr said.

“The intent to buy was simply not there. But, as consumers become increasingly comfortable with spending real dollars on their mobile devices, you can bet that Facebook and Twitter and all of the big platforms will be piloting and testing and iterating and learning as fast as they can,” he said.

“If they can tie real incremental transactions and, more importantly, mobile proof of presence at retail locations via tracked redemption, this will be a big boost to their mobile advertising efforts.”

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York