Online Authority Blog

How to remove referral spam from your Google Analytics reports

by Kelly Kubrick on March 5, 2015

Referral or “ghost” spam is ‘bad’ traffic that can inflate your digital analytics reports and make it appear like your website is receiving more visitors than usual. It’s often characterized by very high bounce rates with one second or less session duration, and 100% new visits. To learn more, see the “Vanquish Referral Spam” section in this blog post.

I realize this probably looks overwhelming, but it looks worse than it is…and once you get into a groove, it’ll go faster. The first major clean up is always the worst, but once you start doing this monthly, you’ll be getting excluding a handful of spammers at a time.

Step 1: In Google Analytics run and export an extended time frame of the Referrals report:

  1. Change the calendar to an extended period e.g. 2 years
  2. Go to Reporting > Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals and expand the number of rows to 500
  3. At the top of the report, click Export > XLSX

Step 2: When that report launches in Excel, click the 2nd tab, called Dataset1

  1. Click Data > Filters, which will enable you to filter the data to sort through it faster
  2. In Column G, Avg. Session Duration, click the little down arrow to open up your filter options. Click “Sort Smallest to Largest”, which will bring all the 0.00 second session duration to the top of your list
  3. Review the resulting sites listed in column A, and delete any that are legitimate referrals as we only want to identify the spammers
  4. You should end up with a list of spam sites. If you’re unsure of a particular referral, check the “pages per visit” metric. If it is 0 or 1, and has a session duration of 0.00, it’s spam – see the featured image above for examples

Step 3: When you have a final list, cut and paste column A into Notepad (or a similar no-formatting tool)

  1. Format the groups into a single line of text separated by vertical pipes|no spaces between each, so you get something like”
    “traffic2cash.xyz|best-seo-offer.com|www.event-tracking.com|semalt.semalt.com|www1.social-buttons.com|buttons-for-website.com|share-buttons.xyz|net-profits.xyz|free-social-buttons.xyz” FYI – that text string above is 182 characters; you can check using something like http://www.lettercount.com/
  2. Add one more character – a backslash before every period, so the above now looks like “traffic2cash\.xyz|best-seo-offer\.com|www\.event-tracking\.com|semalt\.semalt\.com|www1\.social-buttons\.com|buttons-for-website\.com|share-buttons\.xyz|net-profits\.xyz|free-social-buttons\.xyz”
  3. Create groups of about 10-15 referral sites. Don’t go much bigger than that as each final filter text string cannot exceed 256 characters, including the vertical pipes and periods. The amended string above is 194 characters – again, checked using http://www.lettercount.com/
  4. Save that file somewhere close by…

Step 4: Go back into Google Analytics > Admin > Account > All Filters and click + Add Filter

  1. For Filter Name, because you’ll be creating multiple filters, use a standard naming convention like “Exclude spam referral 1 of 10 – created 5Nov20XX”
  2. Click Custom > Exclude > Filter Field = Campaign Source
  3. In Filter Pattern, cut the 1st of your referral spam groups from Step 3, item 4 above
  4. Apply the filter to the TEST views only (so that you can see if they are working)
  5. Click Save
  6. Repeat for all remaining groups
  7. Annotate (need instructions how to do that? see this post: what you’ve done in TEST

Step 5: A week or so later, go back in and check your data in your TEST view

  1. Run the calendar for the last week
  2. Compare Reporting > Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals between Test and Master views
  3. Assuming all is well i.e. that you see a decline in referral spam in Test, apply the filters to Master
  4. Go back into Google Analytics > Admin > Account > All Filters
  5. Click the name of the filter to edit it, and add it to Master view using the Add > to “Selected Views” tool
  6. Click Save
  7. Annotate what you’ve done in Master
  8. Pat yourself on the back!

Once you get the worst of the spam cleaned up, you can make a reminder to yourself to keep an eye on your Referrals traffic, and potentially add/edit new filters monthly. That’s why it’s important to add the ‘created date’ to the filter name, as you’ll be able to run the data as of that date next time thus saving yourself guesswork on what you’ve already excluded.

Have fun…!

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Kelly KubrickHow to remove referral spam from your Google Analytics reports

What are the foundations of a company’s digital strategy?

by Kelly Kubrick on January 31, 2015

First published in Marketing Today, the Canadian Home Builder’s Association (CHBA) member e-newsletter, January 2015.

Building the Foundations of Your Company’s Digital Strategy

The digital realm can identify both opportunities (new revenue streams, distribution channels, and operational efficiencies) and threats (shifting customer behaviors, higher service expectations, decreased asset utilization). So much so that, actually determining your company’s digital strategy can feel overwhelming. Don’t let it.

Instead, think of it this way: “Digital strategy is the process of identifying, articulating and executing on digital opportunities that will increase your organization’s competitive advantage.”

Digital strategy leads to competitive advantage

Think of digital as your company’s chance to create value that no other business is capable of. To succeed at digital, there are six process areas – the Six Dimensions of Digital Maturity – your company will need to address as you tackle digital:

  1. Your human resources: Who are the people who will help plan and execute your digital initiatives?
  2. Your technology resources: Which technologies will your business need to use to implement your digital initiatives?
  3. Your data strategy: Data is an output of digital and the differentiator from its offline equivalent, allowing you to drive continuous improvement in your processes. What is your plan for leveraging its available insights?
  4. Your content strategy: Digital demands that companies produce content efficiently and accurately across multiple platforms and channels. Are you ready?
  5. Your channel strategy: Which channels – for marketing, transactions, distribution – can you realistically support, in a sustained, profitable way?
  6. Your social business strategy: Prospects and customers assume your ability to interact and collaborate – are you prepared for the transparency that will result?

Next, assess your company’s capabilities in each dimension. What are your strengths? Where are the gaps? What steps can you take this quarter? Where should your capabilities be this time next year? What will be your competitive (digital) advantage?

To help you get traction, we developed a self-assessment tool; a way to score your company’s digital efforts. The lower your score, the more opportunity there is to improve. The higher your score, the more you have optimized a given digital process. Interested in learning more? Take our dStrategy Digital Maturity Benchmark Survey to add your insights.

The result? You have a more concrete idea about where to prioritize digital efforts and investment. Once you have your scores, you can “map” your results to visualize a digital maturity road map. Stop feeling overwhelmed and begin building your company’s digital foundations today.

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Kelly KubrickWhat are the foundations of a company’s digital strategy?

Mapping Digital Maturity travels west to Vancouver

by Kelly Kubrick on October 24, 2014

Now that we can share the dates of our next Digital Strategy Conference – May 12-14, 2015 at UBC Robson Square in Vancouver – we are also pleased to announce that we’ll be offering our Mapping Digital Maturity Workshop immediately before the conference kicks off, on Monday May 11th, 2015.

Mapping Digital Maturity Workshop

As instructor of the Mapping Digital Maturity workshop and Conference Chair, I will teach attendees how to assess their organization’s digital capabilities, and their current level of readiness in anticipation of rigors of implementing a digital strategy.

Over the course of the day, workshop attendees will create a strategic road map to digital success. Literally. I will show you how to map your organization’s maturity so that you end up with a visual of your digital strengths and opportunities.

As co-author of the dStrategy Digital Maturity Model, a business planning tool we’ll use throughout the day, I will also share benchmarks and insights from the dStrategy Digital Maturity Benchmark Survey so that you can bring the information back to your colleagues and management teams.

We first offered the workshop at Digital Strategy Conference Ottawa earlier this month. Some of their comments to whet your appetite for the next Mapping Digital Maturity Workshop:

  • “Extremely helpful in getting a clearer perspective on our organization’s challenges and opportunities”
  • “Useful for articulating to management where our focus needs to be”
  • “Loved how discussions were used as learning”
  • “I recommended that other members of my team attend”
  • “Enabled us to benchmark with other institutions and gave us practical tools”

If you have not participated in this year’s dStrategy Digital Maturity Benchmark Survey, we welcome your insights. The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete. I look forward to seeing you all in Vancouver in May!

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Kelly KubrickMapping Digital Maturity travels west to Vancouver

Delving into Digital Strategy podcast episode from The Voice

by Kelly Kubrick on September 24, 2014

Face the challenges of digital through peer learning

As Chair of Digital Strategy Conference Ottawa, one aspect of my role that I love is learning about the challenges of digital at our speakers’ organizations. I’m a firm believer in case-study learning, and even more so in the digital world, where our best educational opportunities often come from peers – our fellow practitioners. Thus, we always ask our speakers to share the unvarnished truth about the challenges of digital.

In advance of this year’s event, I’m very pleased to give you all a taste of exactly that format of learning about digital, from within two particularly Canadian organizations – BlackBerry and Post Media Network Inc.IABC Ottawa’s the Voice podcast logo

With thanks to IABC Ottawa, the crew from The Voice, IABC Ottawa’s podcast, kindly invited myself and two of Digital Strategy Conference Ottawa 2014’s speakers in to the studio to talk digital strategy. I’m pleased to introduce you to Trace Cohen, Carl Neustaedter and our fabulous podcast host, Tina Barton.

Trace Cohen is Senior Director, Digital Marketing at Blackberry and will be speaking on Tuesday September 30th, 2014. Trace will be delivering a session entitled Relevant in Real Time and explaining how that translates into BlackBerry’s content strategy supporting buyer decisions.

Carl Neustaedter is Deputy Editor and Senior Producer of the iPad Edition at the Ottawa Citizen. Carl will share their story of Surviving Seismic Shifts in Structure: Splicing Ourselves Across Four Platforms on Wednesday, October 1st, 2014.

Listen: Delving into digital strategy podcast from the Voice

In The Voice Episode 82: Delving into Digital Strategy, Tina asks each of us what inspires us about digital and in particular to Carl and Trace, how Post Media and BlackBerry in particular are coping with the challenges digital has presented to the media and technology industries respectively.

Tina gave me the opportunity to expound on my view that 2014 is the year of “more than” in digital strategy – it’s the year we’re all coming to grips that digital strategy is more than just social media, or content strategy or digital data – but rather the need for juggling them all simultaneously.

An insider’s view – digital can be the cause of or it can combat disruption

Have a listen to episode 82 and learn more about how BlackBerry is returning to its roots under new leader John Chen – becoming a more responsive, reactive and even aggressive brand in its efforts to counter some of the negative perceptions seen in media.

Speaking of media – hear the inside-scoop on the Post Media’s research-driven efforts, and the Ottawa Citizen’s in particular, to combat the disruption digital has wrought on media: vanishing revenue streams, fragmenting audiences and platform expansion.

Ahh – digital – we love you!

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Kelly KubrickDelving into Digital Strategy podcast episode from The Voice

Does your company have traction with its digital strategy yet?

by Kelly Kubrick on September 16, 2014

First published in The Voice blog of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, September 15, 2014.

How to get traction with your company’s digital strategy

We cannot avoid the impact of digital on our plans for the future. Here’s a sample of business headlines from the last month:*

  • “Best Buy’s web sales rise as store sales fall”
  • “UPS tests pickup points for online orders”
  • “Staples says its omnichannel strategy increased web sales in Q2”

Offering opportunities (new revenue streams, distribution channels, and operational efficiencies) with simultaneous threats (shifting customer behaviors, higher service expectations, decreased asset utilization), digital feels overwhelming.

Instead, think of it this way: “Digital strategy is the process of identifying, articulating and executing on digital opportunities that will increase your organization’s competitive advantage.”

Digital strategy leads to competitive advantage

Think of digital as your company’s chance to create value that no other business is capable of. To succeed at digital, there are six process areas – the Six Dimensions of Digital Strategy – your company will need to address as you tackle digital:

  1. Human resources: Who are the people who will help plan and execute your digital initiatives?
  2. Technology resources: Which technologies will your business need to use to implement your digital initiatives?
  3. Data strategy: Data is an output of digital and the differentiator from its offline equivalent, allowing you to drive continuous improvement in your processes. What is your plan for leveraging its available insights?
  4. Content strategy: Digital demands that companies produce content efficiently and accurately across multiple platforms and channels. Are you ready?
  5. Channel strategy: Which channels – for marketing, transactions, distribution – can you realistically support, in a sustained, profitable way?
  6. Social Business strategy: Prospects and customers assume your ability to interact and collaborate – are you prepared for the transparency that will result?

What are your company’s current digital capabilities?

Start by assessing your company’s capabilities in each dimension. What are your strengths? Where are the gaps? What steps can you take this quarter? Where should your capabilities be this time next year? What will be your competitive (digital) advantage?

Learn more at Digital Strategy Conference Ottawa from September 29-Oct 1, 2014 – and save! Ottawa Chamber Members get $100 off.

*Source: Internet Retailer, August 21 – September 4, 2014
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Kelly KubrickDoes your company have traction with its digital strategy yet?

Ottawa Digital Strategy Conference 2014 – Welcome back!

by Kelly Kubrick on September 5, 2014
First published on Digital Strategy Conference blog September 5th, 2014. Reprinted with permission from dStrategy Media

 

Exuberant? Yes. Eager? Yes. Counting down the days? YES! I can’t wait to welcome you all to Digital Strategy Conference & Workshops Ottawa, September 30 – October 2, 2014.

As Chair, I have the great pleasure of introducing our great line up of keynotes and speakers. We’ll hear from brands such as Canada’s FGL Sports (parent of SportChek), Blackberry, BRP, CanadaHelps, CBC, and from our neighbours to the south with speakers from AT&T and IFT. As we first articulated when co-founding this conference, we believe that digital impacts horizontally across function, and that its lessons can be leveraged across sector and industry.

As ever, Digital Strategy Conference is intended to help you achieve perspective while planning and implementing your organization’s digital strategy. Our speakers provide the best of professional education – practical, relevant and applicable – and are experts with knowledge to share.

In the spirit of back to school and all that it represents, I’m excited to announce:

New this year at Ottawa 2014:

1. Thirteen fantastic speakers you didn’t meet last year: digital practitioners from across North America with in-depth experience tackling this year’s key areas of learning: Content Strategy, Social Business, Data & Analytics and Channel Strategy;

2. Two new workshops on October 2, 2014 – The Nuts & Bolts of Content Strategy taught by Joe Gollner and Establishing Your Road Map to Digital Maturity, taught by yours truly;

3. Our new location – Carleton University’s new River Building with its lovely views, and its fantastic patio overlooking the Rideau River rapids. Can there be a better way to escape Ottawa’s construction and traffic gridlock while problem solving with peers? I think think not.

Back by popular demand – the tried and true!

1. Joe Gollner and Isabelle Perrault return, respectively tackling content strategy in government and digital transformation. Co-presenting with Isabelle is Erin Crowe, EVP and CFO of Ottawa’s very own Senators Sports & Entertainment;

2. We’re very excited to introduce you to three of our top rated speakers from our Vancouver 2014 event: Scott Abel from the Content Wrangler, Stephane Hamel from Cardinal Path and Bryan Robertson from Open Road. Thank you all for crossing the continent for our Ottawa 2014 audience!

3. Six Dimensions of Digital Maturity – not only the pillars that form the Digital Strategy Conference agenda, but a business planning tool which you, our community, received with great enthusiasm. So much so, that when we first introduced the dStrategy Maturity Model, you demanded “What’s next?” Thanks to your input, we’ve got new a new video to explain how the model is being used by organizations, new data to share and that new workshop to announce!

As we begin our final countdown, our thanks for the renewed commitment of sponsors Adobe, the Ottawa Business Journal, the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and IABC Ottawa. Speaking of commitment, a big ‘welcome back’ to multi-city sponsors FreshGigs.ca and Women in Communications and Technology (WCT). Thank you all for your continued support.

I would also like to welcome our enthusiastic new sponsors: many, many thanks to eMarketer, Reachology and the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) Ottawa-Gatineau and Vancouver chapters. We’re so pleased to have you join the #dstrategy crew!

I hope you will join us for our next deep dive into digital strategy, and I look forward to seeing you all on September 30th, 2014!

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Kelly KubrickOttawa Digital Strategy Conference 2014 – Welcome back!

Announcing two new workshops: Digital Maturity and Content Strategy

by Kelly Kubrick on June 24, 2014

Originally published on the Digital Strategy Conference blog; republished with permission from dStrategy Media.

For this year’s Digital Strategy Conference Ottawa, September 30-October 2, 2014 at Carleton University, we are pleased to announce the launch of two new workshops. Both will be held on Day 3, Friday Oct 2nd, 2014 – which means you may have a tough choice in front of you!

Mapping Digital Maturity Workshop

In my dual role as Conference Chair and instructor of the workshop I will teach workshop attendees about digital maturity – what it is and how it applies to the development of digital strategy.Mapping Digital Maturity workshop, I look forward to showing workshop attendees how to assess their organization's digital maturity. Our first step will be rate your organization’s capabilities and level of readiness across the Six Dimensions of Digital Maturity Workshop

We’ll use a business planning tool – the dStrategy Digital Maturity Model – to show you how to assess your organization’s digital maturity or your organization’s digital capabilities and level of readiness for implementation.

In May 2013, I was fortunate to have the chance to outline the concept of digital maturity during a podcast with The Voice from IABC Ottawa. You’ll get the rundown in a mere 15 minutes by listening to the episode on Player FM.

During the workshop, I will share detailed findings from our dStrategy Digital Maturity Benchmark Survey. If you have not participated, we welcome your insights – this year’s Digital Maturity Benchmark survey should take about 15 minutes to complete.

Additional details about the Digital Maturity Workshop are available at the Digital Strategy Conference website.

The Nuts & Bolts of Digital Content Strategy

If your organization is grappling with content strategy, have we got a treat for you! Joe Gollner is one of the world’s leading Content Strategists who just happens to call Ottawa (truth be told, he’s a Manotick man) home. In addition to leading workshops and educating managers and directors about the essentials of content strategy, Joe is the Managing Director of Gnostyx Research, an Ottawa-based consultancy and integrator specializing in content strategy and solutions.

Joe Gollner, Content Strategy Workshop Instructor

Join Joe’s workshop on October 2nd as he shows you how to define and execute a content strategy for your organization. At the end of the day, you will not only understand how content fits within the framework for your digital strategy, you’ll leave with several tools including a content strategy evaluation and planning framework that you can tailor to use within your organization.

Attend the conference and you’ll have two opportunities to learn from Joe. First on Sept 30th where he’ll share details of a Federal Government case study, or on Oct 2nd for his full-day workshop.

Looking forward to seeing everyone in September!

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Kelly KubrickAnnouncing two new workshops: Digital Maturity and Content Strategy

Wrap up: Digital Strategy Conference Vancouver 2014

by Kelly Kubrick on May 2, 2014

From April 29 – May 1, 2014, I had the pleasure of watching our second Digital Strategy Conference Vancouver unfold. We returned to UBC Robson Square and expanded the content to offer two tracks per day for all three days; nearly twice as many sessions as 2013. As co-founder of the event, I was pleased to moderate two tracks as well as present the latest on digital maturity.

On the presentation side, Andrea Hadley and I presented the Six Dimensions of Digital Maturity and provided initial findings from our dStrategy Digital Maturity Benchmark Survey 2014. I also facilitated three “Mapping Your Digital Maturity” sessions, each one intended to help our attendees better understand the benefits and mechanics of mapping their organization’s digital maturity.

Digital Strategy Conference Vancouver 2014 Key Stats:

In anticipation of testing an experimental session format – a Google Hangout with a virtual panel of speakers scattered across North America, we published a series of “Future of Work” blog posts in advance of the panel, to introduce everyone to those speakers.

As a digital analyst, I thoroughly enjoyed the task of moderating our Data Strategy and Analytics track, especially as it brought together analytics friends and colleagues old and new:

  1. David Jenkins, VP Data Intelligence, Traction
  2. Bryan Robertson, Senior Analyst, OpenRoad Communications
  3. Brent Dykes, Evangelist for Customer Analytics, Adobe and Author, Web Analytics Action Hero
  4. A panel that tackle how to Drive Competitive Advantage with Analytics and Data

On a personal note, my favourite sessions included Tim Goudie for the intriguing way he deconstructed Coca-Cola’s sustainability efforts via our digital maturity model; Ann Handley of MarketingProfs, simply because I’ve been a fan for years (I have her and C.C. Chapman’s book Content Rules on the bookshelf behind me) and Eric Hellweg for his thoughtful presentation on the impact of digital on the Harvard Business Review‘s processes and organizations.

Mark your calendars for Digital Strategy Conference Ottawa 2014

It was another great gathering and I’m already excited for next year. However, before then, we’ll gather Canada’s digital strategy community here in Ottawa, from September 30 – October 1, 2014 at Carleton University. Be sure to mark your calendars and join us for Digital Strategy Conference Ottawa 2014!

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Kelly KubrickWrap up: Digital Strategy Conference Vancouver 2014

Dear Diary, I had a Content Marketing Makeover Today

by Kelly Kubrick on April 30, 2014

First published Digital Strategy Conference blog, authored by Tara Dong: Lover of learning, coffee and all things digital. Social media junkie, digital strategy consultant, SFU instructor and raiser of super heroes with puppy breath. Want to know more about me? Visit spryberry.co

When I read through a conference line-up and see a name such as Ann Handley, that same little part of my brain lights up like it does when I find out my favourite shoe store is having a sale. The cynic in me then says: the deals won’t be THAT good, they won’t have my size left, I’m sure she just has a great content strategy and PR team. Well folks, the woman ahead of me in line just handed me the last pair of boots I was lusting after. In my size. At 95% off.

Ann dove into Dear Diary: A Content Marketing Makeover with an terrifyingly accurate representation of my day. She claims that this is a fictional marketer character, and I appreciated her use of a highly attractive model standing looking wistful and lost in a field…rather than one of me (covered in mud and pulling out my hair).

Dear Diary: Today I created a blog post and I tweeted four times. No one commented or retweeted me. I felt alone, especially when I went to my company Facebook page, and saw that my PTAT score is -42. How is that even possible? Only our Google+ is hopping. (Ha! Just kidding)

We emulate publishers, but the question is:

Are publishers the ones to emulate?

 

We can borrow much from what we know about publishing and modify it, but it’s not enough to be a publisher anymore. We need to give it a makeover:

  1. Focus on empathy and experiences instead of articles and blog posts
  2. Focus on relevance and inspiration
  3. Focus on useful

Useful x Empathy x Inspired = Great Content

 

The multiplication sign here is key, because if any of the three elements is zero, the result is ZERO.

I know, it’s easy for Ann to say this, but how do I know if I’m inspired (My mother thinks I’m brilliant – does that count?)? Fortunately she provided us with an easy to follow list of questions to ask to ensure that you’re useful, empathetic and inspired.

Ask yourself:

  1. Who do you want to reach?
  2. What value do you want to give?
  3. What do you want them to do next?
  4. “Will my customers thank me for this content?”

If so, then you know you are doing it right.

And so began a wonderful wander through examples from what best-in-class marketers are doing to create content.

Pillar Properties, an apartment rental firm in Seattle, is getting it right. Check out their development, The Lyric. They are providing real content that is useful, empathetic and inspired. They are using a lot of “you and yours” and not “us and them”. They are sharing about the community, and in it they are building community.

Don Murray, Author of Lessons from America’s Greatest Writing Teacher puts it this way, “Does what you’re delivering to your reader make them say: ‘Now listen to this, Ira!’?”

Wistia, a video marketing platform demonstrates both through their initial series, “Top Hat Tuesdays” and its deconstruction demonstrate a profound level of mastering Ann’s formula.

Levenfeld Pearlstein, a law firm, asked their employees revealing questions like “what did you want to be when you were a little girl” “If you could time travel where would you go?” telling the inner story of their people.

How do you do this?

  1. Tell stories about people
  2. Use fun language (“Don’t want to sign up for our email list? It’s ok, but you’re breaking our hearts”)
  3. make a commitment to think about things differently

What about SEO, does it matter?

Bottom Line:

The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing,

it feels like content.

Be sure to ask for an Indigo or Chapters card for your birthday because Ann is releasing a new book in August: Everybody Writes: Your essential guide to publishing content you’ll be ridiculous proud of.

About the author: Tara Dong
Lover of learning, coffee and all things digital. Social media junkie, digital strategy consultant, SFU instructor and raiser of super heroes with puppy breath. Want to know more about me? Visit spryberry.co
~ Tara Dong ~

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Kelly KubrickDear Diary, I had a Content Marketing Makeover Today

Every Bottle Has a Story: Digital Maturity Lessons from Coca-Cola Sustainability

by Kelly Kubrick on April 29, 2014

First published on the Digital Strategy Conference blog, authored by Tara Dong. Tara Dong:
Lover of learning, coffee and all things digital. Social media junkie, digital strategy consultant, SFU instructor and raiser of super heroes with puppy breath. Want to know more about me? Visit spryberry.co

There is no doubt in my mind, or likely anyone’s, that Coca-Cola is an international brand with serious clout.  This clout can raise both kudos, questions and criticisms.  Having volunteered extensively in some of the poorest regions of Mexico, I’ve watched with deep concern as parents gave their children bottles of Coca-Cola to drink because it is cheaper than bottled water and contain desperately needed calories.  Empty calories yes, but when your family is struggling to survive in a region with undrinkable water, you do what you can. I wondered to myself if Coca-Cola cared about these families, these impoverished communities…

Enter Tim Goudie, Social Media Director, Sustainability for Coca-Cola.  His presentation was powerful, but for more than its emotional impact on our attendees and organizers.

The Coca-Cola Company is 125+ year old organization that didn’t just transition into the digital and social business age, it is leading the way. Among many achievements in 2013: the Company was named the Cannes Lions Creative Marketer of the Year; it is in a 13-year run as Interbrand’s Most Valuable Global Brand; and the Company’s marketing strategies and innovative consumer engagement work earned it a place among Fast Company magazine’s Top 15 Most Innovative Companies in the World.

No small part of the Coca-Cola Company success is due to its strong leaders, including Tim. In 2005 Tim led a team of four people responsible for designing, building and delivering global interactive marketing experiences for key Coca-Cola Company brands across multiple markets in multiple languages; and contributed to the design and launch of coca-cola.com.  The organization journeyed towards sustainable growth by instituting five key “Principles for Change“.

Tim began by entertaining and moving us with how digital has both made us ridiculous and transformed lives.  He challenged the room to realize that sustainability is the next frontier, how we are giving back, treating the resources and communities that are entrusted to us is our Social Purpose.

Social Purpose becomes the single most important factor in distinguishing you from your competitors.

Coke is seeking to: refresh the world, inspire moments of optimism and happiness, and create value and make a difference.

These are wonderful ideas, but how do you tell someone who is making less than $1 a day that you want to “inspire moments of optimism and happiness”?  You don’t, instead you move to the third element and create value and make a difference.

The model behind Coca-Cola’s magic

Social Business Strategy | If you have a hierarchical structure that is not nimble and responsive, and you’re compensated to operate within that structure, human nature says that’s where you’re going to operate.  That structure needs to be turned on it’s head if what we want is nimble and responsive.

Data & Technology | Measurement is essential, you need tools, good ones to measure if your campaigns are having any effect on consumer trust.  You need to know who, what, when, where, why.  And tell your data story, Coke turns each 60+ page report into a one page infographic summary that can be given to executive, etc.

Content Strategy | Once you know your data and demographics, adjust your content to suit your followers.  Coke liked creating documentary style stories, some upwards of 5 minutes.  To respect and engage their audience these lengthy videos needed to be turned into 30 seconds “shorts” that engage on mobile devices, and then funnel their audience to YouTube. On YouTube their longer videos were there for those interested.  More shockingly Coca-Cola discovered if they dropped their branding off the first posts (30 second videos) their engagement rates went up all the way down the chain, ultimately leading audience to the journey website .

Channel Strategy | Stick to the meat and potatoes (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) and avoid shiny pennies (Pinterest, Vine) where you can’t target by demographic. Don’t pay to target people you’re not trying to reach.

Tim Goudie, Social Media Director, Sustainability, The Coca Cola Company

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Kelly KubrickEvery Bottle Has a Story: Digital Maturity Lessons from Coca-Cola Sustainability