Costa Coffee Fuels Facebook Community with Caffeinated Content

How did caffeinated content fuel Costa Coffee's facebook community?

If you didn’t know, in addition to media and communication I’m a bit of a coffee fan – so when I saw an update from my friend Adam Vincenzini at Paratus Communications about the recent growth in Costa Coffee’s facebook community, it captured my attention.

I mean, caffeine + communication – what’s not to like?

In the past six months, Costa Coffee’s facebook page has doubled in size to 500,000 members – an impressive community for any brand.

As a result, Costa Coffee now sits in the top 20 brands on facebook according to ongoing statistics from socialbakers.

Ever generous, Adam was kind enough to answer a few questions (below) about this campaign and case study, providing a great glimpse behind the scenes of the campaign – from research to planning, execution and evaluation.

Congratulations and many thanks to Adam and Costa Coffee for sharing these insights – I hope you enjoy the interview.

I’ve included a few of my thoughts on lessons for brands and communicators following Adam’s responses.

1. Adam, what was the brief from Costa Coffee behind this latest growth in their facebook presence?

Costa wanted to create an online haven for coffee lovers, a place where people who are passionate about the subject can receive their daily ‘fuel’.

By creating this environment, the fan base would be better equipped to act as advocates of the Costa brand amongst their networks of friends and help tell the Costa story.

2. Can you talk us through some of the background research that was conducted to determine the strategy for the campaign?

A great deal of research was undertaken prior to this campaign using our four stage strategic process: Listen, Create, Engage and Analyse.

The ‘listen’ element involved a look at what Costa’s competitor set had been doing across social media to identify a unique space for Costa to own.

We determined that in order to be popular, we needed to be different, and focus heavily on the enjoyment that comes the subject matter.

Having a coffee with a friend is a fun part of your day and this applies for the ‘Costa breaks’ you have on facebook.

3. You mentioned in a facebook comment that you attributed the success of the campaign to a new content strategy, a bespoke app and sponsored stories. Could you take us through the reason for each, and why you chose the combination of these three communication elements within the platform?

The approach was quite straightforward once we completed the listening phase.

The new content strategy was pretty obvious, as the previous approach was light on substance and post regularity. As for content matter, once we had an idea of what ‘coffee lovers’ liked sharing and talking about, we just made it easier for them to access this content.

The app was important because it gave people a reason to visit the page every day during March. Encouraging this type of regular interaction boosted the presence of Costa’s page in people’s streams and consequently drove up referrals/likes from those people.

Sponsored stories played a key role too because they allowed this great new content to be seen by a wider audience.

“The Magical Coffee Machine” – A Costa Express Production (embedded on the brand’s facebook page)

4. Doubling the facebook community to half a million across a six month period is a great result. Do you have some metrics and figures around the campaign that demonstrate just how much this strategy has increased engagement and earned media across facebook for Costa Coffee?

Some of the key metrics included:

- Page views of the Costa page increased from 1,500 to 10,000

- Average reach of each post / status update increased from 50,000 to 100,000

- The ‘talking about this’ figure peaked at 38,000 in March 2012 after hovering at about 2,000 in December 2011

- Average ‘virality’ of each post increased from less than 1% to 2.5%

5. Did any of these results surprise you?

Yes and no. This community has been asking for this type of presence for a while, and once we were able to get everyone on the same page, the response was as we’d expected. However, the speed in which the results were delivered was a pleasant surprise. Most encouragingly, people haven’t been leaving the community either. We are adding new fans and retaining them.

6. Which form of content is driving the most engagement for Costa, and why do you think this is the case?

Photos, definitely. Your facebook stream is such a busy and competitive space and unless you are excited by a updated in the blink of an eye, you’ll scroll down to the next thing. The right imagery, supported by a fun and light-hearted commentary, seem to generate the best results.

7. The digital space is moving so quickly – something you keep a running commentary and analysis of on your own blog. With that in mind, were there any challenges in bringing this strategy to life given the rapidly shifting landscape of paid, owned and earned media?

Luckily, people don’t change. What is interesting to you and me will always be interesting even if the way we discover it changes relatively rapidly. While each platform has its own nuances, the theory doesn’t.

8. We’ve seen in the past brands build a significant following and community, only to disengage from the space after a defined period. How is Costa resourcing to make this content and community engagement part of their ongoing communication efforts?

This is the blessing and the curse of social media. Once you have established a ‘service’ expectation in the mind of your community, it is very hard to walk away from that.

From this overview, there are some great lessons and take-outs for brands and communicators, including:

  • While the brand may set-up and play host to a social space, these spaces are a place for your fans and consumers. Plan your content strategy, engagement and design accordingly.
  • Consider how you will take the offline elements and experience of your brand online within the given channel, and how this fits within your consumers’ online behaviour and use.
  • Be selective and strategic with your tactics.
  • Consider using the full suite of paid, earned and owned media available to you (within budget and objectives, of course).
  • Pay attention to, and give due consideration to the use of images (just look at facebook’s recent $1 billion acquisition of Instagram)

What to do you think?

Do you know of any other brands that have seriously upped their use of facebook recently, and integrated a mix of media within the platform? Who are your fravourite brands for content marketing?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Image credit: puuikibeach, via Flickr CC 2.0

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