Several weeks ago, Coca-Cola launched an application in Facebook which is a “personal, customizable widget for individuals, bands, bloggers, artists, and companies to share links to content they want to promote and drive traffic to anywhere on the Web.” I spent some time playing around with the app (which is still in beta) after I was contacted by Advance Guard and the Coca Cola company asking for an honest review. I had also spotted it on C.C. Chapman’s blog.
There are two areas around this widget I am going to review – First, the application itself, and Second, the approach to distribute, launch and promote it.
Simple Application, But Will It Take Off?
The application right now is still in beta and only available on Facebook. The application let’s you build a slick looking tag, change it’s skin (including a design that promotes Coke’s we8 program uniting Chinese design firms and progressive western artists) and customize links to share, and anyone who sees it on your profile will be able to click through links.I added the tag to my Facebook profile in under a minute – it was easy to set up, put in some things about me and be done. Ease of use for a widget is important and Coke nails it for the casual, generic user.
There are two differentiators for CokeTags that may contribute to its success. First is the slick interface. For a novice techie, the Web 2.0-like view is fun and different. I am not sure I would put it on my blog (when available) since a) the style options are not consistent with the look and feel of my page, and b) I’m not sure why I would want to endorse Coca-Cola. But to a casual user, this might spice up a web page, blog or Facebook profile enough to be different. The interface does promote Coke, but it’s emphasis is on sharing content unrelated to the beverage. Chris Abraham was spot on when describing that the widget “isn’t nefarious.” Still, they have some kinks to work out. After repeated attempts to edit and republish links, the widget looked fine previewing in the application (above) but the style sheet on my profile page still looked funky.
The second differentiator is the ability for the CokeTag creator to go to one place, maintain content/links, and push out to all the sites/profiles/pages that have the widget. For a mini version of a web content management system, that is empowering to a user. The app also provides a mini version of web analytics, showing which users in Facebook have expanded your CokeTag and which links have been clicked on. That’s a good amount of functionality built in to a simple widget.
A Challenge: Engaging the User
The challenge I have to Coke is to make this widget more compelling to use. There are tons of tools out there to share links and fill in information about oneself. I already have the ability to put this same information in my Facebook profile, so to me the information the widget provides could be a bit redundant. The categories of links are customizable, but simply sharing links that I put in doesn’t make it very “sticky” for me. Bands or artists looking to disseminate information and links can do this easily directly in the content on their Fan Pages or Myspace pages, even though this tool provides a way to maintain/publish the links in one place.
Christopher Penn suggested to blend this widget with Coke rewards points, which would be great. While admittedly I may be asking for too much, my suggestion would be to add a level of interaction within the widget itself – perhaps personalized recommendations, suggestions of related content, or allowing people to comment on what’s in there like the comment system in FriendFeed. For example, if I was a band and posted a link to “Concert Saturday Night” with a click through link, it would be great to allow users to comment right in the widget – “I’ll be there!” or “Is it standing room only?” or “Hey, when are you coming to my city?” I realize Coke needed to start somewhere, and what they have is great for the basics.
One minor question for the Coke team – I am curious when the widget is release through OpenSocial and other platforms for blogs if the links are exposed for SEO purposes. That would make it at least as beneficial for promotion as putting links directly in content on pages.
Using Social Media to Promote Social Media
Using a Social Media Release, Coke and Advance Guard do a great job of announcing the widget, sharing what it is about and seeking feedback from the community. I know C.C. Chapman worked on the project and has direct access to the interactive team at Coca-Cola, but it is still great to see Mike Donnelly, Director for Coca-Cola’s Worldwide Interactive Marketing team, respond within minutes to the first comment on C.C.’s blog post about the project – especially starting his comment with “Yup, we are listening…” Coke is clearly committed to starting something innovative and different and learning from the experience. I’d be interested if they are banking on ROI from the widget or have executive buy-in that this is an experiment that requires some investment in dollars, time and faith. The way the promotion is being handled gives them a terrific shot at making the widget a successful campaign.
Thanks to Advance Guard and Coca-Cola for inviting me to review. Would you add it to your profile? Have you tried out CokeTag?