Pepsi is a unique brand because of its enormous size and widespread brand recognition. As the second-largest food and beverage company in the world, PepsiCo owns 22 brands that earn at least $1 billion in revenue each year. These brands include Gatorade, Mountain Dew, Lay’s, and of course, Pepsi itself.
Pepsi’s social media strategy is based on the simple philosophy that there are no rules in the field. Bonin Bough, the Global Director of Digital and Social Media for PepsiCo, still views social media as an experimental space. He claims that the focus isn’t on finding the big strategy, but rather creatively using a brand’s means to build up a vibrant community around the product. The following article from Business Insider reveals several of Bough’s insights into social media, and includes an excellent video interview with Bough via BigThink.com:
Pepsi On Twitter and Facebook
Pepsi has earned a very strong following on Twitter with over 635,000 followers, beating out Coca-Cola by about 130,000. Pepsi’s Twitter presence is marked by a very personal, conversational tone. Posts are very light-hearted and often humorous. The account names four individuals who run the Twitter, and they are clearly committed to responding to as many followers as possible, creating a constant conversation with audience.
According to the company, 70% of Pepsico’s 300,000 employees are on Facebook, with an average of 130 friends.
Customers also create products. Mountain Dew, a favorite beverage of skateboard thrashers, has an online “Dew Labs” community of 5000 heavy consumers. It steers the brand by approving logos and designing limited-release flavors. The “Dewmocracy” approved citrus-flavored White Out this year, which then sold 12 million cases, a record.
In April 2011, Pepsi announced a new line of social media-enabled vending machines. These new machines allow customers to connect to social networks from the vending machine itself, allowing them to send gifts to friends to be redeemed at any of the machines. According to Pepsi chief innovation officer Michael Durham, the goal of these vending machines is to extend the consumers social networks “beyond the confines of their own devices.”
The key to Pepsi’s social media strategy is a commitment to creative innovation. Rather than looking for a rigid, step-by-step plan, Pepsi has implemented a more open-ended philosophy, viewing social media as an ever-changing field. Companies of all sizes can learn a lot from Pepsi, but perhaps the biggest thing is to feel free to experiment. Brands must be willing to find a strategy that works for within their means, and ultimately creates meaningful interaction with the target community.
Josh and Drew