The Business Development Institute brought together brand marketers for The Social Consumer conference this week in New York.
The event kicked off with “Digital Fitness,” a social media pep talk from by PepsiCo’s Director of Digital and Social Media, Bonin Bough, fresh from spreading the Pepsi gospel at South by Southwest (above).
His remarks were fascinating for what he did mention — and didn't.
Bough’s theme as he addressed the other brand marketers in the room: digital innovation has outpaced human evolution and is directly affecting the very process. Some of the stats/anecdotes he cited:
- There have been more apps downloaded since apps began than all the music downloaded from iTunes.
- Consumer consumption is the game-changer in a world that is 100% digital.
- Kids today think all screens are touch screens.
- Kids are "addicted" to the iPad (of which there have been 79 versions thus far).
- Kids sing songs in school about how to use the web responsibly.
- Grandparents now have relationships with their grandchildren on Skype and Facebook.
- Digital death includes Facebook Memorial pages
- IBM’s now infamous Watson was programmed to think like us – and is now beating us at the process.
- Technology affecting our lives is nothing new. Once clocks were invented, we began living our lives by the clock.
- Twitter and Facebook are the entryways to digital/social addiction – with users clamoring for a 140 character fix.
- Being cognizant of the change is an obligation. Organizations most adaptable to change – will make it.
- Those not equipped for digital adaptation will fail, re Wikileaks vs. CIA, Amazon vs. Borders, Blockbuster vs. Netflix.
- Organizations were open and keeping pace with technology until mobile and social became pervasive – then they hit paralysis.
- Social Media is the largest focus group ever.
Digital fitness, he said, requires training, rigor and commitment – just like physical fitness, and the willingness to push past the reflex of saying 'no.'
He also offered some suggestions to organizations looking to flex, or build up, their digital muscles:
- Invite innovation and attend conferences like CES and SXSW.
- Challenge convention.
- Faliure is okay.
- Learn, rinse, repeat.
- Maintain an iterative mindset.
- Stick to performance with purpose.
- Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
- It's not about who owns social media in a company; it's about leadership, not ownership.
Getting PepsiCo specific, Bonin cited PepsiCo10, a crowdsourcing project to solicit innovative ideas for new technologies. About 500 submissions were winnowed down to 10 winners for the first "class."
He also noted how PepsiCo was the first major brand marketer to work with Foursquare, and the company aims to keep embracing social startups — such as working with Instagram, StickyBits, Mission Control and Compass — to leverage real-time insights, feedback and suggestions from consumers.
Not discussed in great detail: the Pepsi Refresh crowdsourcing initiative, to which the brand diverted its Super Bowl ad budget last year — an ongoing corporate citizenship effort that was cited by Ad Age as a factor in why Pepsi slipped to third place behind Coke and Diet Coke in the US last year.
That debate, which gets at the 800-pound gorilla at every social media conference — how to quantify the ROI of social marketing, and the impact on the bottom line — would have made for an informative panel later in the day.