Sarah Dull

“We’re a house of over 80 brands, and it’s really important to distinguish ourselves as a company.”

At our Member Meeting in Chicago, Sarah Dull, Corporate Reputation and Social Media Manager for The Hershey Company, shares how they built a corporate social media presence for the 122-year-old company.

Sarah Dull

Before 2015, The Hershey’s Company did not have a corporate social presence on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or anywhere, for that matter. However, their brands such as Reese’s, Jolly Ranchers, and even their newest brand, Krave, had established social presences with defined strategies from as early as 2009.

Without a corporate channel, Hershey’s didn’t have a space to highlight their social responsibility efforts.

“We realized we needed to create a difference,” said Sarah. The Hershey Company needed to differentiate themselves from their brands and show there’s so much more to the brand than just the iconic chocolate bar. Sarah says, “We really wanted to elevate the company’s presence, establish it, and give notice to our corporate social responsibility initiative.” These initiatives included programs that provided food to malnourished children in Ghana.

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They started by rebuilding the website.

Sarah says the lengthy process included a move to a new platform and a lot of content creation. Then, they focused on channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn. While LinkedIn is still run by their HR team, Sarah earned buy-in to publish company updates on the channel.

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But there was a wrench thrown in the plan.

Three months before they were set to launch their corporate social channels, Hershey leadership announced “Simple Ingredients.” It was a campaign to announce their transition to simpler ingredients across their portfolio, which meant a change to two of their core products. The company wanted a two-way dialog with consumers available to explain the transition — and they wanted a Twitter account to do it.

Launching Hershey’s corporate channels was put on hold. Instead, they launched a consumer relations channel on Twitter called @AskHershey. The goal was transparency, and this made it possible.

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Social channels for the corporate brand finally launched three months later.

With these new channels, they were finally able to have a space to highlight their social initiatives. For example, that year The Hershey Company was a part of a program based in Ghana to help feed undernourished school children. As a part of their Nourishing Minds program, the team traveled to Ghana to construct a factory, create the supplement, and provide a peanut-based supplement to 50,000 Ghanaian children a day. With corporate channels created, The Hershey Company finally has a space to bring attention to their social responsibility initiatives without disrupting the messaging of their sub-brands.

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The Hershey Company has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2010. You can check out Sarah’s Twitter here.


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