Wendy Clark SVP Marketing - Coca Cola unveiled statistics at the Ad Age Digital Conference in NYC last week with profound consequences. She revealed that last year Coke tracked 146 million downloads of Coke related content on YouTube. Only 26 million of those were of Coke created content.

Over 120 million views were of content created by people not related to Coke.

These are big numbers with big meaning for all of us. So many people creating and experiencing content about Coke not created by Coke. What is Coke to do… what are we to do for our brands? It is interesting that this did not get much attention but not surprising as it upsets the applecart's of those who think they are in charge.

According to Wendy… "We must meet people at their truth, on what is important to them and work back to ours. If I can't connect on their truth we don't get through." Wendy is learning the lessons of this shift.

IF CONTENT IS KING WHO ARE THE KINGMAKERS?

We the People… has a catchy ring don't you think? With that many people voting with their hearts to watch and create what they want, what they trust, the dye is being cast for the rest of us.

Wendy has a great story of how people had aligned with Coke's messaging over time and produced more meaningful content that Coke could ever do because it came from their heart and people sense that.

Coke has been at this awhile… 125 Years actually. They get the importance of social. They are the biggest brand in facebook, have executed multiple social efforts and are spending considerably more in 2011 for Social Marketing. They know the people are the king and they are working to create a brand experience where people reflect themselves into the brand itself. We all should be doing this.

BRAND IDENTITY ITSELF IS FRACTURING

As Wendy alludes to, truth is what people believe it to be. Perception is reality. Social only accelerates this. We want to meet people at their truth, what the brand means to them and help connect that perception with where the brand wants to be. We flex the brand, be open to possibilities that give more credibility to the people.

It is what people create about the brand that will have future influence that speaks the truth as it comes from them. The brands align by being imaginative, open, helpful and centered on people. Brands continuing down a path of one off campaign "targeting consumers" with "roadblocks" that "micro-target" with a "call to action" is a dead end. This strategy drives brand behavior not aligned with social connection.

CREATE YOUR SOCIAL IDENTITY OR IT WILL BE CREATED FOR YOU

This disparity between the viewing of brand produced content and people produced goes to the heart of social identity. If you don't create a strong and true social identity for yourself, people will create it for you and you might not like the results.

Evolve your social identity by flexing the brand, imagining the brand from the peoples POV. Envision the brand at an emotional level of openness, concern and availability. Ground it in who you are as a brand. If done right, it allows you to be larger, to be flexible and a key part of the social swirl happening all around you.

It is the first thing you should do. It drives everything else. To do this, we use a reverse archetype model that taps into collective human truths and conversation. Whatever your method, make sure you look beyond a campaign approach and connect at a deeper, more meaningful level. Your social identity then animates your social behavior stimulating people's creativity and passion.

HOW SHOULD YOU SPEND YOUR SOCIAL DOLLARS?

An overwhelming number of marketers consider social media to be integral to their strategies this year, and 70% plan to increase their social media budget by more than 10% this year, according to a recent poll from Effie Worldwide and Mashable. 87% said social media was "important" or "very important" to achieving their biggest marketing goal this year.

According to the poll, brands want more friends. How you get those friends will be remembered. The content they create about you will peak volumes. Make this meaningful and connect in ways that help people want to join you, to give part of themselves to the brand, to add their narrative to a shared story so that their friends will friend you. Start there.

Most recently as the founder of the Social Symphony Tom has, weaved social tactics in concert with CRM 2.0 social strategies with Colgate, Cadillac, Kraft, Gallo, Reebok and others and has spoken about these subjects at iMedia Brand Summit, IAB Social, MITX and OMMA Social. Tom can be reached at TomTroja@TheSocialSymphony.com.

Read all Tom’s MediaBizBloggers commentaries at the Social Symphony.

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