As head of digital for PepsiCo Beverages America, Shiv Singh oversees all digital paid, owned and social media for the company’s various beverage brands. This includes the company’s well-known Pepsi Refresh project, as well as smaller awareness and social media campaigns. His challenges increased in mid-March when Beverage Digest dropped its rating of Pepsi from the No. 2 carbonated drink in the country, to No. 3, behind Coke and Diet Coke. He talked to eMarketer writer/analyst Kimberly Maul about how PepsiCo measures social media and the role Facebook plays in its social media outreach.eMarketer: Which platforms and online media channels do you use, and which resonate best with your target audiences?Shiv Singh: In our business, we sell beverages. We sell at retail, and, as with a lot of businesses like ours, our biggest partner is Wal-Mart. I say this because, in many ways, Facebook is the Wal-Mart of the digital space for us.There are two reasons for this. One is we find ourselves investing a lot with them. Secondly, separate from how much we invest, we find a deep, meaningful and easy way to learn from our consumers, co-create with them, market to them, and create meaningful engagement experiences with them for the long term.“In February, we did an immense amount with SoBe and with Sports Illustrated, SI.com and their swimsuit issue.”But, having said that, I would say that Facebook is most certainly not the only game in town. We do look at other platforms and other partners. In February, we did an immense amount with SoBe and with Sports Illustrated, SI.com and their swimsuit issue. That was a massive effort. We, similarly, do a lot with MTV online, and with a lot of different partners.Singh: We have several different measures, but I’d say the uber-measure we use is the SIM score, which is like a digital brand health metric. The premise behind it is that what consumers say about us is more important than anything that we say. It’s an indexed competitive score looking at how our brand is doing compared to our competitors, indexed on a hundredth scale. The formula accounts for volume and sentiment, and then weighted by platform.eMarketer: Tell us about the new version of the Pepsi Refresh Project, which awards grants to community service projects voted on by consumers. What’s going on in 2011, and what is the strategy for this program?Singh: We launched the program in 2010. Some people were skeptical about it—they weren’t sure whether we were committed to this, whether we’d bring it to life, whether we’d stay with it. We had phenomenal success. Just to share some of the stats for 2010: 87 million votes, 120,000 ideas, millions of visitors to the website. Over a million people impacted by the grants.In 2011, as we build on these successes, we see a lot of potential to have more fun with it; to make it not just about doing good, but feeling good as you’re doing good. That’s one big transition or evolution. As a part of that, we’re introducing what we call the Pepsi Challenge, which is an open-ended question from us. The first question asks, “How would you rock the house for a great cause?” Anyone can respond and pitch their idea—it’s a different voting challenge than the general Pepsi Refresh.The other thing we’re changing is we are making it more content-centric. The people who vote are actually people who want to talk to each other and learn from each other, and share with each other. So, we’re going to create places for that to happen.eMarketer: Did these changes come from lessons learned in 2010?Singh: Yes. We actually did an immense amount of research. We conducted a virtual focus group on Facebook over a four-week period where we asked users specific questions and got their feedback. It was very structured. Then, separately, we analyzed all of the 120,000 ideas submitted: who submitted them, why, where in the country they came from, what their age was, their interests and what ideas won—all of that.“We then analyzed all the conversations across the web about the Refresh Project, doing semantic analysis on them—working with some social research partners.”We then analyzed all the conversations across the web about the Refresh Project, doing semantic analysis on them—working with some social research partners. Then we also went out and actually spoke to people who voted for programs and the people who won grants.eMarketer: What trends in digital and social media are you following?Singh: The hyperlocal trend is important to us. Our business is always about the point of purchase and being as close to our consumers as possible. The interesting thing is we are also thinking about breaking down geographic boundaries. It’s sort of a yin-and-yang trend.“We think tablets have a lot of potential. Around the Super Bowl, we created an iPad ad unit that ran in The Daily, which is the iPad newspaper.”We think tablets have a lot of potential. Around the Super Bowl, we created an iPad ad unit that ran in The Daily, which is the iPad newspaper. That was actually more of a game-like experience than an ad. It got front-page coverage in USA Today a few days before the Super Bowl. We’re looking into tablets and into how the world of advertising and gaming and location-aware applications are blurring.

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