SHANGHAI: Coca-Cola, the soft drinks company, is placing a greater emphasis on content marketing in China, with social media serving as the underlying "infrastructure" for this material.

"Content is the main driving factor, with everything else as a means to present content," Amy Chen, interactive marketing director at Coca-Cola China, told Campaign Asia-Pacific. "And social media will be the 'infrastructure' for our content marketing."

She described social media as "like being water in a bottle that fills the spaces in between the rocks", with the "rocks" constituting standalone items such as PR events or a separate digital campaign.

Chen admitted that the firm's approach to social media has been "fuzzy" thus far as it experimented with various approaches on Sina Weibo, the most popular social site in China. It has now, however, developed techniques it feels confident will work on other sites.

"In 2013, we want to go beyond Sina Weibo and put our social-media eggs in more than one basket," she stated.

But this will not involve a chase after numbers. "Instead of having 1m zombie fans we would rather have just 80,000 active ones," said Chen, before going on to remark that "social media is not merely a face-saver exercise".

Having such active fans means "you will see the effectiveness of anything seeded on social media", she noted.

Another area that has proved successful for Coca-Cola is crossing content marketing into the offline world, as with a recent Weibo campaign asking fans to send Coke-branded postcards to friends who could then scan a QR code to become social media fans.

An important thing to remember, said Chen, is that "users become our fans only because we have content", and that in turn requires that marketers stop thinking in terms of campaigns.

"Content marketing on social media is a long term affair," said Chen.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff