I have to admit that as a non-coffee drinker, I’m pretty addicted to caffeinated soft drinks. To the point where I’ve just shocked myself by working out that, in conjunction with my partner, we spend about £957 per year just on Coke or Pepsi! The fact that I can happily switch between the two main brands without any hesitation probably also makes me a reasonable target for online marketing.
Pepsi has recently launched a social media promotion to engage bloggers around a new Pepsi logo. They picked 25 top social media and marketing bloggers, sent them empty cans featuring all the previous designs, some full cans with the new design, and even a DVD of history of Pepsi. The approach had some criticism (why target the social media/marketing niche rather than the fans of Pepsi niche?), but the response was fairly favourable – see Jennifer Laycock and Chris Brogan for more. And they even started a room in FriendFeed – The Pepsi Cooler – and that’s where my problem lies.
Pretty quickly people saw the flaw in a room which only allowed contributions from 5 people, and enforced moderation for all comments. You can see some responses to Chris Brogan’s post. The fact that Edelman’s Steve Rubel was involved meant that there was a fairly quick response claiming it’s the tip of the iceberg, and the team were working quickly to approve comments.
- The first problem has been that the team are all U.S based – so no approval for 12 hours if you’re in the wrong timezone. I did make the suggestion of getting a representative from other countries involved.
- The second is that a topic effectively has to be discussed in the comment of something irrelevant, in the hope the 5 contributors will write about it – I wanted to chat about the fact Pepsi cans in the UK now came with QR codes on them on November 17 – but Bart, who acknowledged by comment appears to have disappeared since then.
- The third is that with 5 contributors, there just isn’t the flow of content,contribution and conversation to keep any interest going. There’s now just a contribution every 3 days, which is pretty slow – and hardly anyone is commenting.
Put it like this – if I had a community of 312 members, I’d be pretty disapointed if only 5 of them posted, and only once every three days. They’ve said that ‘we need to make sure the conversation is clean, free of profanity, and does not have any personal attacks’, but if you’re using Friendfeed after targetting 25 leading social media bloggers, you’re not likely to be overun by flame wars!
It’s good that Pepsi has started trying to engage the blogosphere as part of their overall marketing strategy, and that they at least discussed and made a slight attempt to have some conversations – but it’s a akin to listening to Pepsi shouting at us through a megaphone, and then trying to chat back with a sore throat.
It’s lucky Coke have also managed to make a mess of things, because it nicely balances the post! Way back in June,08, I wrote about the CokeZone loyalty scheme, which allows users to input a code found on Coke bottles to be rewarded with points, which can then be exchanged for a range of products – some of which are rather good. The problem I had, was that the site was incredibly unreliable and frustrating to use. Things may have improved slightly, but there are still bugs with entering login details, and the site moves at the same speed as evolution.
Luckily, I haven’t actually been fired for using cokezone, which happened to some Coke employees who accidentally infringed an employee limit on collecting points while they boosted and promoted the service (Shel Holtz has all the details).
But they have turned a scheme which was meant to promote loyalty into one of immense frustration.
About a week ago, I happened to be logging into the site to register some more codes when I caught sight of an offer for a Flip Mino on the homepage – with options to enter to win for 2 points, or get one for 300 points. It was something I wanted to make sure I got, so I thought I’d try to collect the extra 100 points I needed (33 1/3 2litre bottles worth!). Now it did state that there was a limited number of the Minos, but bearing in mind there’s been a message saying ‘hurry, just a few left’ on various T-shirts etc since about the time I joined in April or so, I thought there’d be a bit of time.
But there wasn’t.
Turns out it’s a special pre-Christmas promotion with a new product each week. So either all the Flips were handed out or they’ve just been deleted.
So after swearing and realising my mistake, I thought I’d check for some contact details, and maybe try a bit of pleading in case there was one left in a cupboard somewhere.
Now read the following very carefully:
In 2008, on an onlineregistered members loyalty scheme for a major global corporation, with an unreliable site, and transactions to the value of games consoles etc, the contact details for the site are by telephone or post. No email, Facebook, Twitter, GetSatisfaction or Uservoice page. Post or phone! Oh, and some FAQs – (How were people asking these Frequently Asked Questions? And where’s the one for ‘My God, is this the most unreliable site ever?)
How to fix this stuff:
The Pepsi Fix: Allow everyone to contribute and chat. Employ moderation after the event, only if it becomes legally necessary, or of a personal or offensive nature. Employ someone to do the moderation if you need to, or get volunteers around the world to spend an hour each day. And try and make sure there are some Pepsi responses more than once every 3 days. That way, you’ll find the Pepsi fans, not just the top bloggers in a category by ranking.
The Coke Fix: Ideally, remove some of the flashy yet unreliable gubbins and make the site simpler to use. Make the Ts and Cs regarding a week long competition really, really clear, because when a site takes as long to load as yours, I don’t spend any more time on the homepage than necessary. And for the love of God, put some useful contact details or customer service on there!
Two companies with whom I’ve spent significant amounts of money have both engaged with plans which should, on the face of it, been right up my street. And yet somehow, it’s resulted in me realising how much I’ve spent, and the potential health risks of overindulging, because of the quick research I did before composing this post, and because they didn’t commit and go the whole way. And there’s nothing worse than getting halfway to somewhere, stopping, and turning round again.
And do it quick, before I start loading my shopping trolley with bottled water or lemonade