Posted by:
Carli Goodfellow, Director of Digital Influence
16th Dec 16

The future of social media management: What can we learn from Pepsi & Coca-Cola?

The back end of 2016 has seen Coca-Cola, one of the world’s biggest advertisers and rival brand Pepsi, both take their social media in house.

Within a week of each other, the two drink giants announced the move – Stepping away from their previous agency delivery model, towards a centralised solution, with a lower cost base and high productivity benefits.


This isn’t to say they completely severed ties with specialist partners, but they have certainly streamlined the process and internalised much of the day to day community management.

For Coca-Cola, the move came following the development of their NASC, a real-time newsroom to manage social media marketing for all the Coca-Cola brands globally, staffed by over 50 internal staff alongside dedicated agency specialists from the likes of Havas and Publicis. As a business unit, the key focus is on listening and analytics, content strategy, creation and publishing, community management, marketing science, legal and media buying.

So what does this move mean for agencies providing social media management services in 2017? Will we start to see this trend rolling out across other client portfolios in a bid to drive similar efficiencies and cost savings?

In my mind, it’s an unlikely scenario and in any case not one that should marginalise the need for or role of agencies.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are somewhat unique in that they have reached a level of social media maturity on a global scale, and thus have different needs to many of the consumer facing brands that today are still trying to carve out their voice and “raison d’être” in the social space.

For the most socially mature brands, there is a constant quest for new and innovative ways to connect with their audience online, and as such these brands require ongoing strategic and technological counsel from specialists who will always reside within agencies in order to keep abreast of the latest industry movements across multiple sectors. In fact, in order to deliver the most creative and commercially impactful social media campaigns, and to ensure long term ROI, these forward thinking brands are working more closely and then ever with specialist agency partners in order to deliver award worthy campaigns.

For brands who are by comparison in their infancy on social, or in the early stages of their digital transformation, most will find the required platform expertise, technical understanding and editorial skills needed to create truly engaging and impactful social content within their agency teams and for most, this key work stream is still best placed for delivery by their Public Relations partners who are crafting their brand’s story and hold relationships with key influencers across all consumer touchpoints.

So, even though the agency teams previously working on Coca-Cola and Pepsi may now have a different remit, they are still fundamental to the success of the brand online and whether you’re working on the biggest global social brands or establishing a presence for the latest start-up, digital specialists within PR agencies have a key role to play.

From teams at the coal face, in the role of brand guardian, managing the day to day reputation of a brand through online conversations or those delivering board level strategic counsel, providing the clout needed to drive innovative projects forward with stakeholders, the need for deeply collaborative agency-client partnerships has never been more evident and I for one am excited to be a part of these brand journeys into 2017.

Carli Goodfellow
Director of Digital Influence

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