You’d think that Coca-Cola, long #1 on Interbrand’s “Best Global Brands List,” would achieve the same prominence on the Internet. But, no, Coke only ranks 12th based on number of mentions online in 2009, according to an analysis by Sysmos, a company that provides business intelligence on social media.
There could be many reasons for the variation, including a lack of social media communications programs. The variation is also seen among other top ranked Interbrand brands. For example #2 IBM slides to #15 in online mentions. Conversely, and perhaps not surprisingly, Google is #1 in online mentions while #7 on Interbrand’s list, which is based on financial data, international scope, and value added. Only Microsoft achieves equality, at #3 in both the “Best Global Brands List” and with mentions online.
So, why does it matter that a company is tops in economic value but below par online? I believe that it will begin to matter much, much more in coming years, as the Internet increasingly becomes the principal source of information about companies and everything else. If your company is not commanding the Internet among consumers, you may no longer be dominating the marketplace. But leading brands have it in their power to improve their online rankings.
One way is by enlisting their employees as brand advocates in corporate communications. Employees are already surfing the web and participating in social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Large companies have a golden opportunity to dominate the Internet “air waves” with their employees as their most important cheerleaders, commenting on corporate and employee blogs, and engaging in online conversations with consumers.
Getting back to Coke, the company has 3.7 million fans on Facebook, and 92,4000 employees spread across the globe. Just think of their cumulative power to communicate key messages about Coke that zoom around the world on social networks. I wonder if Coke has an organized program for their employees to reach out to Coke’s followers on social networks? I read through last year’s Annual Review and didn’t see anything. I don’t mean to pick on Coke. I’m just using the company as an example of a missed opportunity.
Employees in all companies will welcome the opportunity to be empowered to represent their company in the blogosphere. All it takes is trust: trust your employees to promote your brand well in online communications.