How Coca-Cola’s Small World Experiment Impacted Its Social Media Performance

Guest post from Vikas Bysani in which he talks about Coca-Cola's campaign “Small World Machines” and its impact on social media channels.


This is a guest post from Vikas Bysani ((Vikas is a Marketing Executive at Unmetric. Loves long walks on the beach and hates clichés. Data is kinda his thing. Also a diehard Simpsons fan. You can connect with him on Twitter at @duffman229.)), in which he talks about Coca-Cola’s campaign “Small World Machines” and its impact on social media channels.

So it turns out that the phrase “It’s a small world” isn’t just a cliché, it’s hard and fast science!

A campaign by Coca Cola called “Small World Machines” did wonders for Coca-Cola’s social presence and goodwill towards the brand. It certainly attracted a lot of attention from the online community as I can’t think of anyone who didn’t share or see the video.

Digging deeper in to the experiment, I was surprised to find that it had some roots in the famous “Small-world experiment”. If the name of the experiment doesn’t ring a bell, the concept certainly will: it was designed to find the average degree of separation between two random people within a network. In this case, Coca-Cola’s intention for this campaign was to connect people from two nations – India and Pakistan through their proverbial vending machines of peace. A lofty ambition, but given the animosity between our two countries, it’s a nice reminder that on an individual basis, we’re all human and tend to get along.

I could talk about the video and how barriers were broken, made people come together and share happiness but instead, let’s take a look at how the video fared on social network platforms like Facebook and YouTube.

Facebook growth and engagement

In the period between 20th May to 29th May, Coca-Cola saw 36% growth in the number of fans from India on Facebook. In raw numbers, that’s a staggering 600,000 new fans that Coca-Cola added in 10 days – most brands fail to get that in several months! I know amongst my circle of friends and within the Unmetric office in general, the video was shared generously around Facebook, and this was certainly reflected across the country.


Coca-Cola India Facebook fans had a miniscule growth rate of 0.03% in the month leading up to the Small World Machines campaign, which suggests that interest in the brand had peaked. We can see in the graph above that the campaign drastically increased the number of fans, a huge win for any brand that is seeing stagnant growth. It’s also a clear example of the impact a real world publicity stunt can have on fan growth.

Interestingly though, the fan numbers have since dipped ever-so slightly since the campaign ended.

The campaign saw huge amounts of engagement on Coca-Cola’s Facebook page too. Given that Coca Cola has a show stopping 67m fans, the level of activity on its page is generally very low. In terms of raw numbers, it gets tens of thousands of interactions per post, but this is a drop in the ocean given the 67m fans! Unmetric uses an Engagement Score which allows us to benchmark brands irrespective of their fan numbers. Usually, Coca Cola has an average Engagement Score of 16 – well below the sector average of 53 – but the post about the Small World Machines saw a much higher score of 142.

Could Coca-Cola have earned a higher Engagement Score? I’m not sure if they sponsored the post, but I suspect not.


YouTube and Twitter growth

The 3 minutes video, which was uploaded on the 19th of May, gained over 280,000 views in just 24 hours. It then went on to receive over 1.4m views.

On Twitter the beverage brand had more than 820K followers and hashtag #smallworldmachines generated a lot of hype. The hashtag was used on an average of 5 times a day since the release of the video which helped to push it out to all the followers. As any Twitter user knows, you’ve got about 15 minutes for your tweet to be seen before it’s buried under masses of new ones. Tweeting about something once isn’t leveraging your Twitter followers as much as you could be.

Follower growth rates for Coca Cola on Twitter were less spectacular than on Facebook, suggesting that a vast majority of people still rely on Facebook to get their brand news and updates.

Did Small World Machines score?

The Coca-Cola campaign was shortlisted in the Cannes lion Innovation Award amongst other campaigns from companies such as IBM, Google, and Nike. Will Coca-Cola be able to snatch the award? They have some stiff competition from the other brands, but whether they win or not, reminding everyone that despite all our differences, we live in a small world, is a big enough win for me.

Disclosure: Unmetric is an advertiser at Lighthouse Insights.