Having guarana drink have always been as popular as drinking a cola drink in Brazil. The golden-orange soft drink Guarana Antarctica with its distinctive sweet taste have captivated Brazilian taste buds like no other. The brand has been around for quite some time – it was launched in 1932 – and in the last few decades have created various innovative ad TV campaigns and sports sponsorships.

In my last post, I wrote about the Facebook most ‘liked’ brand pages in Brazil and Guarana Antarctica came in close second behind Coca-cola. What strikes me the most it’s the difference in their market shares Coca-cola: has around 45% of share volume, while Guarana Antartica has just reached 10% of the market. However, there have virtually the same number of fans on Facebook, 17.2 mi and 17.1 mi local fans respectively (Source: Social Bakers).

Surprisingly enough, Guarana Antarctica had no Facebook page until the end of 2010 and no relevant online presence. So, why did they achieve such a success in a somewhat relatively short period of time?

Let’s take a look at two of their online most successful social media campaigns:

Using an old urban legend that said if someone collected 1000 cans of the product they could exchange them for a wheel chair – I vaguely remember that when I was a kid – Guarana Antarctica decided to use this old story to create a very interesting social media campaign:  on April’s fool day, they launched a YouTube video, where for each 1000 ‘likes’ they would donate a wheelchair to a charity – a nicely twist on the original story. Needless to say , after just a couple of weeks, over 50 wheel chairs where donated to different charities.

Going back to Facebook, the following year, the brand launched another campaign – where a group of 4 friends would drive to Sao Paulo to Salvador (in the Northeast of Brazil) in time for Carnival. The catch was – their car was to be powered by Facebook ‘likes’, so every ‘like’ the car would move 10 metres and for each comment 20 metres. Fans could also download an app for real-time updates on the progress of their journey. The friends eventually got to Salvador in time for Carnival and the campaign proved to be a success.

So, what’s the key of their success? Is it because Guarana Antartica’s online actions are funny? Is it because they are innovative? I’d say yes, to all that, however the key of their social media success is Engagement. Having a large number of fans doesn’t necessary mean they would interact with the brand – the key to success here is always to find innovative ways on social media to promote fan interaction.

In the words of Scott D. Cook: “ A brand no longer tells consumer what it is, it is what consumers tell each other it is”.