LONDON: Coca-Cola is increasing its efforts to reach consumers via social networks. "We're making increasing use of new channels of communication whether that is through mobile phones or social networking sites like Facebook. This is a really important change in the recession," says the company's marketing director, Cathryn Sleight.

Sleight was speaking at the 2009 Soft Drinks Industry Conference in London. She explained that the attraction to Coke of social networks was their huge popularity and the ability of users to influence other users by a new form of word-of-mouth.

“They are an indispensable part of people's lives,” she said, “nine million people in the UK are members of Facebook and these cyber friends influence the decisions we make just as much as the friends we have at home, at work or on the same streets.

“Four out of ten people on social networks say they are more likely to buy a product if it is recommended to them by social network sites and we expect this will grow even further.”

Coke is traditionally one of the UK's biggest TV advertisers and Sleight's words will have sent a chill through conventional advertising and media agencies who are still unsure how best to access the vast Facebook audience.

However she said that Coke was still committed to traditional TV advertising and would be beginning a new heavyweight campaign this month.

Data sourced from; additional ontent by WARC staff