Pepsi, Microsoft Say No One Social Agency Meets All Needs

shiv-singh.jpgAs brand marketers gain more experience running social campaigns, they’re becoming more sophisticated about choosing social media agencies. Head marketers at Pepsi, Ford, and Microsoft shared their thoughts on working with social media agencies last week during an event hosted by Huffington Post in New York’s Times Square.

“We haven’t figured out the right mix,” said Shiv Singh, head of digital at PepsiCo Beverages North America at PepsiCo, when asked about how Pepsi picks social agencies. “They all come to social media from different places from different starting points…. No one has the whole picture.”

The comment is particularly poignant considering Singh’s history on the agency side, as social media strategist with Razorfish. Singh (pictured above) moved to Pepsi in June, and works with the company’s burgeoning consumer engagement group, which is heavily focused on social and emerging media.

“Depending on the agency and the need, we leverage them and their strengths,” said Singh of the social agencies Pepsi works with, noting that he has yet to find one agency that fulfills all his social marketing needs. “We shop by skill on the agency side,” he added.

Scott Monty, Ford Motor Company’s pioneering head of social media, told the social marketing panel’s audience, “We’re very methodical and very aggressive about our social media” efforts. He said Ford has a social media agency at the corporate level and works with Team Detroit – a joint venture of WPP agencies including JWT, Mindshare, Ogilvy, Wunderman, and Y&R – in crafting social campaigns.

Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus, an agency that handles social media strategy for companies and brands including HBO, Diageo, and Bing, suggested that social agencies have varying approaches. Some, he said, are more focused on scale, reach, and frequency, while others are focused on engagement.

Microsoft is also learning as it goes when it comes to integrating social agency services. “We’re really starting to blend the ideas of our agencies and our media partners,” said Eric Hadley, general manager, for Microsoft’s online services division. He said the company typically writes quarterly or annual briefs, and brings in its agency partners to help decide who should handle specific projects.

Hadley continued, “If you have the media agencies in silos it doesn’t work.”

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