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The sun’s shining across the pond and Elephant Creative associate Becky has hit the bright lights of Hollywood to attend Social Media Week in Los Angeles.

First session on the agenda is ‘Who really owns your social media?’, hosted by Adobe and a panel of marketing gurus from PepsiCo, Disney and Zappos. Watch it here.

So what do invisible jets, free pizza and lawyers all have in common? Social media, of course.

Andrea Harrison, Director of Digital Media at PepsiCo, explains how social media marketing works within Pepsi beverages (attempting to breakdown the whole company’s strategies would take all day!)

How is social media run at PepsiCo?
The beverages department is a matrix sorted organisation and is divided into two main areas: marketing and consumer engagement. The marketing department is filled with career driven interns but it’s the consumer engagement department that covers social media. Their job is to ensure that social media is ingrained in the marketing plan just as much as TV. PepsiCo want to combine their media platforms and one of the most recent strategies for this is implementing hashtags into adverts. People are much more comfortable about searching for a hashtag on Twitter or Instagram straight away and this allows them to get involved. It becomes much more than just posting a video.

How do you educate such a large corporation about social media?
PepsiCo has corporate training that covers the globe. Within the marketing department 99% of staff understand it and use it well. Not everyone can know everything, so every time a new social media trend or application arrives, the training starts all over again. They encourage everyone in PepsiCo to be social savvy, even the legal department have their own Twitter account.

Graham Kahr, Social Scientist at Zappos Development Inc, is working with social media on a slightly smaller, more human, scale but has some interesting points about teaching the trade.

How do you educate your staff about all things social media?
Zappos teach their staff how to use Twitter and Facebook from the very start but don’t tell them what to write. They allow people to be themselves but teach them how to talk about the company. Graham puts up posters around the Zappos campus highlighting new social media features and networks, encouraging everyone in the company to get involved before it gets big. They give little nuggets of information to the people who need it and cheerlead it along. In short, ‘do what makes sense’.

Any great social media stories?
Zappos once had a snowed-in customer who was stuck with no power. Thanks to some Facebooking (and a bit of cheeky bit of database searching) the company sent out free pizza, right to her door.

Samantha Garry, Director of Global Digital Marketing at The Walt Disney Studios, explains how they get their message across to their 300 million online fans.

How do you begin to manage social media for such a huge, long-standing company?
Disney consider themselves storytellers, so the movies come first and the branding comes afterwards. They have a standard setting for their social media accounts across all groups and use community management. Film marketing is unique, they are releasing a movie a month, each with its own unique attributes, and new branding and social media plans each time. It’s fast paced and when a new film is released the team need to ensure that social media is marketed towards the right community. E.g. The new Frankenweenie film will need to be marketed at the Tim Burton community as well as Disney fans. Initially social media was a shock to the system for Disney, as an old company with traditional marketing, so they had to ensure they were talking to people in a way that makes sense to them.

 So where do invisible jets fit into this?
Host Cynthia Neiman shared her favourite social media story from April Fools Day. The social media team at Mattel, behind Hot Wheels, wanted to do something a bit different so they created a fake product ‘Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet’. They posted photos of the empty, but branded, toy box on their Facebook page and waited for responses. After the initial ‘I don’t see anything’ comments, they started getting more positive ones from fans saying they’d still buy it. Soon enough a limited edition range was produced and it sold out almost instantly. It earned the company millions of dollars of press and now the $5 gimmicks can be bought on eBay for over $40.

Comment: It was interesting to look around and see nearly everyone in the audience resting a laptop or a tablet on their lap whilst keeping everyone up-to-date on their smart phones. At one point PepsiCo asked who watched the television with at least one connected device and every hand in the room went up. Does this mean we’re ever really paying full attention to any of the screens we are using? Do companies care, as long as we’re engaging to some extent? 

Written by Elephant Creative associate Becky Hunt.