Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Social Media Mavens - An Interview with PepsiCo's Bonin Bough

Welcome to the second interview in the Social Media Mavens series, where I talk to some of the top minds in corporate social media, and learn how their companies are crafting their social media efforts. Today's edition features a recent chat I had with PepsiCo's Director of Global Social Media, Bonin Bough. The interview focuses on Tropicana's involvement with BlogHer in launching an online community site for women, The Juice. Read on to learn how this partnership came to be, why Tropicana went with a community site to reach their target audience, and how the company judges the effectiveness of this initiative:

MC - Walk me through the thinking that went into Tropicana wanting to sponsor an online community, and an online community on the BlogHer site? What advantages do you see to this approach versus spending the same amount of time and money on traditional marketing? What are the challenges?

BB - The Juice was launched in coordination with Trop50, Tropicana’s new orange juice beverage with 50% less calories and sugar. Because it is a unique product, we wanted to go out with it in a unique way – by starting an online community. Trop50 is all about getting "more of what you want and less of what you don't" - and we understood that this mentality really jived with women's day to day lives. Social networking and community message boards are a huge part of women’s online lives today. The Juice evolves the tradition of women gathering around the kitchen table to share stories and tips – and creates what we like to refer to as a “digital kitchen table” for ongoing conversation.

BlogHer was a natural choice for us because their audience maps so well to the market for Trop50 and Tropicana. It’s important to look at the breadth and reach that BlogHer has – almost reaching half of the women that are going online to experience the blogosphere read something from a BlogHer blog. However, I’d point out that sponsorship is a dated word. The last thing we’re doing is a sponsorship! What we’re doing is more of partnership – we collaborate closely with them on episode topics, scripts, and guests so what you see is a reflection of both Trop50 and BlogHer.

Overall I think we need to stop focusing on the “either/or” approach to traditional versus online social media marketing. At Tropicana and PepsiCo we have an integrated marketing mix strategy. The Juice is a specific tactic that brings a different and deeper level of engagement and provides a platform for an open conversation, so we can actually engage directly with our consumers. We are moving from impressions to connections, and campaigns to conversations. With The Juice it’s about enabling a conversation that’s important to our audience – helping them get more of what they want and less of what they don’t on a variety of topics they choose to discuss. And, this isn’t just about the BlogHer community – it’s about using that as a springboard to reach into Facebook, Twitter, iVillage, other BlogHer blogs, non-BlogHer blogs, and more.

MC - A lot of my readers are at a place where they 'get' social media, but are trying to get the 'buy-in' at their company from people that don't. Did you have to 'sell' the idea of sponsoring The Juice community internally, and if so, what were some of the objections you heard, and how did you move past them?

BB - I understand a lot of people are in that position – the first thing I’d say is PepsiCo is in a great position because senior management across the organization believes in social and digital as a game changer. They have driven us to be as innovative with our marketing as we are with our products - Trop50 which is an innovation in product and an innovation in the way we market.

Having said that, of course we needed to sell the idea of The Juice internally and one of the biggest questions we received was about understanding “reach” in the social media space. We believe there is an arc to the way messages should be delivered these days. The message starts when we engage our advocates (versus influencers) and begin a conversation – it expands when we carry that conversation elsewhere. Reach is gained over time through syndication, traditional message, integrating into paid, and other 360 efforts. The Juice is a marathon not a sprint. Overall – it starts with making sure you can articulate the value of a tactic, and not let it viewed in a narrow way.

MC - How do you judge the ultimate success of The Juice as a marketing initiative for Tropicana? Or are you even approaching it as being a marketing effort? What will need to happen from this partnership for PepsiCo to look at launching similar efforts in the future for its other brands?

BB - All our efforts in the social media space are totally focused on ROI, and demonstrating the value of engaging with consumers on social media platforms. Measuring a program against key metrics and relationships is really important as we scale up our social media work across brands. For Trop50 specifically we are working with Ogilvy and their Conversation Impact model which tracks key metrics that ladder up to Reach, Preference and Action. So yes, very focused on measurement - and to be honest that is a huge part of what will help sell communities across to other brands. We'll look to share this out as a case study across PepsiCo. This type of engagement won't be right for every brand, but we share best practices so other brands can help evaluate if a community model might work for them.

Again, the big thing is that we can’t get stuck on older metrics. It’s an emerging world, and we need to adapt to that.

Thanks again to Bonin for answering my questions and giving us some insight into how The Juice came to be. You can follow Bonin on Twitter by clicking here. And if your company would like to be considered for a future interview in the Social Media Mavens series, please email me. Look for the next interview in this series in two weeks!


alyce said...

Nice interview, Mack. I had an "a ha!" moment - Bonin's insistence that the work with BlogHer is a partnership not a sponsorship. Very interesting they see it that way. Just semantics or do you see a true difference?


Gavin Heaton said...

"Again, the big thing is that we can’t get stuck on older metrics. It’s an emerging world, and we need to adapt to that."

Acknowledging this in a corporate setting is a major achievement. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out over time.

Mack Collier said...

Hi Alyce! To me, it sounds like by using 'partnership' instead of 'sponsorship', that PepsiCo/Tropicana is trying to frame their involvment with The Juice, moving forward. That they want everyone to know that they aren't just pasting a logo on a BlogHer site, that they are more involved than that. What do you think?

Alan Martin said...

Great Interview Mack!

Anne Simons said...

Hi Mack:
Great post, Mack, and great learning for companies who are trying to figure out how to map their social media strategy.


alyce said...

Hi Mack - yes, I think by using "partnership" they're implying a larger and/or longer involvement between brands instead of just putting money into a campaign. In my mind there is a difference between the two - long term partnership vs short term sponsorship.


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