PepsiCo's Bough On Brazil's Social Media
PepsiCo is key sponsor of this week's Social Media Week (SMW), and that is giving global director of digital and social media Bonin Bough a lot of frequent-traveler miles. Bough was keynote speaker in SMW Brazil in Sao Paolo and at the closing conference event in New York that takes place on Friday.
Participating in panels with Bough are dozens of PepsiCo employees, part of an effort Bough promotes to get people at the company as informed about social media as they are about traditional media.
The Purchase, N.Y.-based company is also using SMW to launch its PepsiCo Women's Inspiration Network (PepsiCo WIN). PepsiCo will have three panel discussions on issues of importance to women: creating online nutrition forums, generating women audiences for films, and creating brand advocacy among women via social networking; and partnering with "Change the Ratio," an organization devoted to women in the technology space. "We are activating on four continents, in four countries and four major cities," says Bough. "We aren't just slapping our logo everywhere; we have 40 people participating in panels, and sharing our learnings, and our experiences. And we have hundreds of people attending the event just to experience it."
Speaking from Sao Paolo, Bough said Brazil is ground zero for social media. "What's not happening down here?" he asks, rhetorically. "I gave a keynote on Tuesday to a packed crowd. What's great here is the vibrancy of the market. What's amazing about this market is that the growth has also driven the growth of digital in ways that we have not seen in almost any other market." He says in Latin America there are 170 million Internet users accounting for 30% of the Latin American population. For the next five years these figures are expected to grow by 50%, with Brazil adding the most users, at a 19% rate.
Already the country is the second-largest user of Twitter after the U.S. "It's explosive. You have the huge population of bloggers and content creators. And you have interesting dynamics such as the fact that they are expanding broadband to the whole population. They are changing the car while the car is still moving. It's evolving so fast."
Bough says PepsiCo efforts in Brazil reflect a tactic of partnering with new-media events from which it can depart with a toolkit of knowledge, ideas and applications, such as SXSW, of which the company was an early sponsor. "What's interesting is that this is kind of the post-geographic era. We had been focused on 'how do we do social media in the U.S. How do we do social media in Brazil. In the U.K.' Now the real promise of social media is about to take off, which is the global nature of brands, businesses and conversations. Conversations around products and brands aren't necessarily local."
He said one interesting finding is that now language is less of a barrier, since people are using technology to translate, "and whether the translation is 100% or 50%, the emotional connection is what's being translated. You see people responding to Tweets in totally different languages. The other thing is, it's less about geography and more about the emotional resonance of the conversations that are happening."
One of Pepsi's social media efforts in Brazil is "Pode Ser," a crowdsourcing initiative involving Brazilian influencers like Marcelo Tas, Rafinha Bastos and the band Fresno, who tweeted messages using the hashtag #podeser ("It Can Be...") Pepsi says it garnered 4 million users and the campaign's hashtag was the top Brazilian trending topic.
The next phase will involve influencers among scholars, advertisers and web celebrities who will debate on a "Pode Ser" theme, broadcast through LiveStreaming.