How Twitter Courts Pepsi

Twitter is at a stage where it is looking to get meaningful brand dollars. Its massive growth assures it will get a hearing. And yet Twitter is adamant that it won’t just sling promoted tweets and trends. Instead, it wants brands to think of how they can add to Twitter, rather than just intrude on the experience.

Take Twitter’s approach to Pepsi, a huge consumer goods brand that is as progressive as they come with the adoption of social media. Twitter has an account manager for all things Pepsi-related and has assigned a top executive to act as a contact to the global head of digital at PepsiCo. And so, Twitter is acting like any large publisher does, with creative and sales teams.

Singh praises the go-slow approach Twitter has taken. “They are not just trying to sell us promoted tweets and promoted trends, but are creating stuff with us and for us.”

Twitter’s theory has long been that it must first get brands active on its platform before it  finds ways to augment those activities with ad products. It’s an approach similar to Facebook’s. In Pepsi, Twitter can chalk up a success in Phase one. The brand has been on Twitter since December 2008. It now has 1 million followers, tweeting up to five times daily on music and pop culture issues.

Phase two, amplifying that activity via sales, is also underway. Pepsi has run Twitter ad campaigns (like its Refresh effort) that have proven effective, with Pepsi seeing engagement rates between 8 and 15 percent for campaigns. The brand ran promoted trends around its last two Pepsi concerts and will for a Nicki Minaj concert in NYC next Tuesday, Aug. 14. It used the ads to announce each concert and then on the day of, inviting people to participate. During the course of the day, the text changed to keep fans engaged. Pepsi has found that promoted trends are valuable to announce special time-bound activities like the concerts if you have a reminder system in place. Promoted trends are also powerful to share what is actually going on. And that’s where using the right descriptors “FreeConcertNOW” or “KatyPerryNOW” really worked, according to Singh.

Now Pepsi is ready to move into a new phase where it will come up with innovative efforts that embed Twitter into Pepsi’s overall marketing efforts. Twitter has a team of specialists that are dedicated to powering these type of campaigns. In May, Pepsi kicked off an ambitious 52-week effort, “Live for the Now,” which connects its followers with music artists through videos, photos and live-streamed events. For a Katy Perry concert that Pepsi live-streamed in June, the company bought promoted tweets, resulting in 68 million impressions in one day.

There’s now a final phase that Twitter needs to get Pepsi to: showing all these efforts are paying off in tangible business goals, including brand health metrics but stretching to actual sales lift. In that regard, there’s still work to be done, Singh said.

“We have some studies we will be running soon to help us with that,” he said. “We are, however, able to measure Twitter’s effect on the brand’s health, and that is important too.”

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