Nov 24, 2021
Our Investigations

Reverse Engineering Infamous Marketing Strategies from Innocent Drinks

Andy Clarke

Why are the social media strategies of Innocent Drinks considered as the gold standard for marketing teams the world over? We collected every tweet (10,521) posted by the communication department to deconstruct Innocent's content, style, reach and engagement with a simple topic analysis.

If you want to learn how to communicate with your audience online - you could do a lot worse than studying the techniques of Innocent Drinks. Their Twitter page is packed with cheeky, brave and subversive remarks that come together to create a wickedly confident tone of voice. But effortless as they may seem, there is finesse and poise behind Innocent's marketing strategies. They have structure and sophistication.

So armed with a dataset containing all of their tweets - we used data science techniques to deconstruct the style and success of their digital content.

What's So Funny? Post Content & Features

Twitter is key to Innocent Drinks. It's where they launch new products and spread the word about discount deals. So when our topic analysis highlighted that Weather Updates were almost as common as tweets about smoothies - our eyebrows were raised.

But Innocent know their audience. It is no coincidence that 400 of their posts have referenced 'Eurovision' (4% of their total output on Twitter!!). Offering live commentary on Europe's foremost p̶o̶p̶u̶l̶a̶r̶i̶t̶y̶ talent competition is a golden opportunity to reach across national borders to millions of dedicated fans. The same strategy  - targeting an already engaged & captive audience with quick-wit - is evident in the cluster of Innocent's tweets about football.

Today is The Day

Weather updates, clock and calendar announcements are useful to anyone and everyone on Twitter but they also point to a key principle of Innocent's strategy - temporality. Innocent post about things as they happen. It seems obvious but so many marketing teams miss the trick on this one.

To illustrate the point - the word 'day' is the second most common reference in all of Innocent's tweets. 'Today' is the third most common and features in almost 6% of all posts. Our topic analysis also picked up that Innocent's most common theme is to join conversations about world news or current events. The bottom line - engage with events in real-time.

That Quirky Tone of Voice

There's a lot to be said about the fact that #DadJoke is Innocent's 4th most common hashtag. It perfectly captures the sense of youthfulness and playfulness that have become hallmarks of their content strategy. Besides, whether you are a Dad - or you are laughing at your Dad, #dadjokes are generally hilarious to everyone.

But it is the consistent feel of deliberate randomness that is most evident here. A good demonstration of this is the events that Graphext picked out of Innocent's tweets. The Olympics and New Year are the most common event references with Pancake Day a close third place. Next up is Wimbledon - which perhaps isn't surprising - but followed by Fruit Sports Day ... #random.

Further compounding this mischievous tone of voice is an obsession with the Great British Bake Off (GBBO). The term 'gbbo' is the most frequently used in the dataset. Yes, that's right ... a huge international drinks company (90% owned by Coca-Cola) manage to squeeze some kind of reference to the British TV show in 10% of all of their 140 character posts.

What's emerging is a picture of a communication team that is extremely tuned into the interests and attitudes of their market - and they aren't scared to exercise that knowledge! And posting cute animal pictures? Well, there is no better marketing strategy proven to work time and time again.

The Best of the Best: Engagement & Reach

For those of you who have never heard of Innocent Drinks or their famous marketing strategies, you are probably wondering what all of the fuss is about. Let's take stock for a moment.

Innocent get a median of 42 favourites p/tweet and 23 RTs p/tweet.

@CocaCola - Innocent's parent company - get an average of 1 favourite and 1 retweet for every post. @Pepsi manage better with a median of 15 favourites p/tweet.

So yes, these guys are a big deal.

Sign of the Time

But social media marketing isn't all about content. Twitter is 15 years old and for as long as it has been around - marketing teams have debated about the best time to publish a post. There are so many variables, geographies and conversations at play that make it difficult to find a one size fits all solution for businesses on Twitter.

Graphext automatically segmented Innocent's tweets according to the number of RTs a post received, so we began to inspect the temporal patterns behind their most popular posts.

60% of Innocent's most retweeted posts are published in the morning. What's more, this is especially true between 8am - 9am. Weekend posts are also overrepresented amongst their most popular tweets.

Bursting with Life

Studying all of Innocent's posts using a time-series visualisation makes for disruptive reading. When it comes to social media marketing - consistency - is heralded as the name of the game. "Post often but not too much" is a common theme in the marketing blogosphere.

But plotting the number of posts p/day since 2014 reveals that Innocent are quite happy to post in bursts - sometimes more than 70 each day. True to their form, these tweets are typically about events like Eurovision or the GBBO final and are some of the most popular tweets in the dataset.

Making It Pay: Promoting Their Product

But for all of the #dadjokes, Europop and animal pictures, the success of a marketing strategy depends on product promotion and sales. To borrow from Innocent's own Twitter bio - "We make healthy drinks. Please buy one so we don't get fired."

So how does this ingenious team of communicators help to drive the business forward? Well ... without their sales data, we can't be sure. But what our Twitter dataset does tell us is that there is a clear strategy of product promotion here.

#GoodDealFriday

Searching the text for every mention of discount, deal or offer reveals a clear directive to promote Innocent smoothie and drink offers on Fridays.

These tweets make up only around 1% of the dataset - a comparably small number. But there are tactics at play here. Innocent are taking advantage of Friday feelings to direct people to their products. They almost always mention a supermarket in tweets that reference discount, deal or offer and as much as 40% of the tweets mentioning a UK supermarket are posted on Fridays.

Super Smoothie Sentiment Showdown

But although purchase directives are few and far between, Innocent Drinks still market their product. Graphext's cluster of tweets about Super Smoothies is the third most populous in the dataset featuring 679 or 6% of all tweets.

Inspecting the language features of this cluster tells of a more typical marketing approach. There is a substantial overrepresentation of positive adjectives used to talk about super smoothies. Graphext considered words like tasty, delicious, perfect and big to be the most relevant amongst tweets in this cluster.

Not only this, the sentiment of tweets in this cluster are much more positive than average. As we've seen innocent aren't afraid of a bit of dry or dark humour. But when it comes to promoting their drinks, it's boundless positivity all the way. 40% of tweets about super smoothies were considered positive and 47% were considered neutral.

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