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23 APRIL 2014

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Loyalty Magazine reports on customer retention,loyalty schemes, rewards, affinity, CRM, call centre issues, direct and viral marketing, mobile and internet channels for both B2B and B2C enterprises. It covers all global markets and business sectors, including retail, financial services, travel and hotels, telecoms and electronic commerce.

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Friday, 24 June 2011 15:26
Loyalty Comment: Increasing sales through social media? Coca-Cola should know better
The recent comments by the Coca-Cola VP of global marketing that brands should look at better ways to make money out of social media smacks of the same sentiment that was widespread when card based loyalty schemes were first launched 15 years ago.
The then head of Sainsbury’s commented famously that the company had no intention of issuing quasi-Green Shield stamps, and that it didn’t believe in bribing people to shop with them.

Other company heads stood up at conferences to argue that they had no intention of launching a loyalty scheme because it wasn’t possible to prove the concept worked.

More lowly marketing people bemoaned the fact that they couldn’t get their projects passed by the board, because the finance department wanted concrete evidence a rewards scheme would make a return on investment before they would release the necessary funds.

All that is history of course. Tesco and Boots, not to mention a host of airlines and hotels, continue to prove the worth of a loyalty scheme, not just to retain customers but also to learn from them. Data analytics have enabled many companies to say without question that their businesses would be poorer, both in terms of customers and information, without their loyalty schemes.

So why isn’t the illustrious Jonathan Mildenhall of Coca-Cola taking the same approach to social media? Why doesn’t he realise that community networking, whether Facebook, Twitter or any blog, is about communicating with customers, passing on knowledge and information, and sharing experience? It is absolutely NOT about selling.

Any company that tries to blatantly market their product through social media deserves all the disapproval and animosity it will unquestionably get.

With social media, the customer is in control, and knows it. They will ‘dislike’, disapprove of or disown any hard nosed salesperson who breaks the rules, and Coca-Cola should accept this and respect social media codes of practice.

This is not to say that social media should be sidelined when it comes to brand promotions, far from it. The secret is to give back, reward and share. It is about the relationship. Those that ‘get it’ will be rewarded by customer buy in and approval. The wrath of the community will fall on those who don’t.

To amend the famous saying of President John F Kennedy: Ask not what  more the customer can be persuaded to buy from you, but what you, the company, can do for your customer.
 
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