Zeta Interactive Announces Best Buzzed Beverages of 2011

Diet Coke might not be the most popular beverage in the country, but it is on the Internet, at least according to one measure.

Zeta Interactive, a New York City-based digital marketing firm, is set to release the winners of its fourth annual Zeta Buzz Awards, an annual distinction given to companies with the most positive social media and online buzz. Included within the awards are the Best Buzzed Beverages of 2011, a “Top 10” list of brands that enjoyed a significant amount of positive discussion in the social media landscape.

According to Zeta Interactive, Diet Coke had the most positive social media and online buzz of all non-alcoholic beverages in 2011, displacing Pepsi, which held the top spot in 2010. Diet Coke also edged out regular Coke, which sits at number two on the list, and bested a number of other beverage popular beverage brands including Vitaminwater, Gatorade and Snapple.

Zeta Interactive sources consumer opinions on specific brands via a proprietary mining tool called Zeta Buzz, which scans over 200 million online posts from social media web sites, blogs, message boards and videos sharing sites. Zeta Buzz can instantly measure the volume of posts generated by a specific topic, factors in the positive or negative tone of those posts, and assigns an individual score to each brand. Brands are then ranked based on their particular category or market.

Al DiGuido, the CEO of Zeta Interactive, explained that Zeta Buzz is a beneficial resource for companies to examine the effectiveness of online and social marketing campaigns.

“It’s a real-time focus group that shows the best of the best, and the worst of the worst in an overall branding strategy,” DiGuido said.

This year, Diet Coke unseated Pepsi Cola as the second best-selling carbonated soft drink in the U.S. The low-calorie cola also enjoyed an impressive tonal ranking of 84/16, meaning 84 percent of online mentions were positive and 16 percent were negative. The most commonly used words to describe Diet Coke include “refreshing,” “great taste,” and “win.”

Zeta’s list also featured 5-Hour Energy and ZICO, neither of which appeared in the 2010 edition. DiGuido said that 5-Hour – number seven on the list – has been able to build a groundswell of support on social media sites and established awareness and passion among consumers who associated the brand with words such as “need” and “strength.”

While ZICO had the smallest volume of mentions on the list, the coconut water brand enjoyed the highest tonal ranking of any beverage in the top 10 as 91 percent of online mentions cast ZICO in a positive light. However, DiGuido noted that for ZICO move up on the list, the company would need to dramatically expand distribution and its evangelists will need to be more vocal online.

“ZICO’s biggest challenge… is getting people to know about the brand,” DiGuido added.

And though ZICO, as well as its rival coconut water brand, Vita Coco, has enlisted the help of celebrities and athletes to promote their products, DiGuido pointed out that several endorsement deals have backfired in recent years. He cited controversy surrounding Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong as examples.

“There’s a gun-shy nature to endorsements these days considering the unbelievably negative impact they could have with brands,” DiGuido said. “Marketers are becoming very cautious. If the wind blows the wrong way, it could be devastating for a brand.”