We sat down with SocialMedia.org member Dave Spinato to talk about his career as Harman International’s Global Director of Digital and his previous social roles at Diageo and PepsiCo. We’re also excited to announce Dave will be sharing best practices on global social media at our Brands-Only Summit this October in Orlando.
For Dave Spinato, Harman International’s Global Director of Digital and Social Media, “breaking through” is the most important part of his job.
“It’s about people being proud to follow us and talk about us on our behalf in social media,” he says.
The goal: Add value. But not just externally — internally, Dave tries to show the value of social to the company.
And he’s had some practice. Dave started his career on the agency side as a front-end developer for Grey Interactive. He then made the jump to the client side, wearing multiple hats as SoBe’s (South Beach Beverages) Webmaster and Associate Manager of Digital Media. When PepsiCo acquired SoBe, the head of digital gave Dave the opportunity to manage all things digital and social for the Pepsi brand. From there, he went on to get his first taste of global social media as the Global Director of Digital for Diageo’s Smirnoff brand.
In 2013, he joined Harman International, expanding his experience from Global Director of Digital for a single brand to managing an entire portfolio of products worldwide, like AKG, Harman Kardon, JBL, Mark Levinson, Lexicon, Infinity, and more.
If you ask him about working for lifestyle brands like Pepsi, Smirnoff, and Harman, he’ll admit it’s as cool as it sounds.
But he says you don’t have to work for a leading CPG company or the brand whose speakers are endorsed by Maroon 5 to earn social cred.
“Regardless of the brand, company, or organization, there’s already a base of fans, advocates, evangelists, and consumers to tap into, otherwise the company wouldn’t exist,” Dave says.
“I think it’s the job of the digital and social teams to find out what resonates with their existing fans, and to experiment on how they can attract a new audience as well. At the end of the day, people don’t want to be friends with brands, they want to be friends with people. So making sure you have the right persona and willingness to take a stand is everything. But it takes trial and error, and you have to be willing to take some educated risks.”
One of his proudest accomplishments was creating and rolling out Harman’s global digital strategy and playbooks.
“When I came into the organization, I noticed we were doing some great stuff, but I quickly learned we didn’t know why we were doing that great stuff,” Dave explains.
So Dave started by building and linking the digital, social, and ecommerce strategies into one cohesive playbook. Then, he asked their regional leaders and senior executives around the globe for their input.
“We asked about their priorities, but also what they were looking for in a support system.”
The result: A playbook that covers the basics, tactical execution, helpful templates, and more.
Social 101: This section helps define some social media basics like global naming conventions, posting do’s and don’ts, successful content, and the best times to post.
Toolkits: This covers specific tactical execution on campaigns, events, and promotions.
Templates: They created a social calendar meant to let the regional teams and divisions populate it at their level as well as a template for reporting. This helps everyone get on the same page no matter where they are.
Dave explains, “For example, how do we define engagement? Engagement can mean a lot of different things on different channels, so we created a custom methodology. We’re making sure we’re measuring our content the same way so it’s an apples-to-apples comparison around the globe.”
It all comes down to constant communication.
For Harman International, that means a direct dialog with their local markets which consists of bi-weekly meetings, constant phone calls, web-ex and email check-ins.
“It’s about making sure they’re thinking digital first with a purpose and linking that back to our strategy and KPI’s.”
Dave says it’s not micromanaging, it’s helping everyone get what they need.
“We are recourse to the organization because one of the biggest challenges we face is making sure the brand’s high standards for digital and social are met around the globe,” he explains.
“It all goes back to the communication process. After a digital immersion session with local markets and divisions, it’s about doing follow-ups and having action items. Don’t just check the box. Make them want to work with you. Get them what they need and house it in a place where all teams know they can gain access to the material no matter where they are.”