Jessica Schank helped build Barilla's social presence from the ground up.
In 2011, a representative from the company's global headquarters in Parma, Italy, joined her to establish and grow their social platforms in the United States. She got the job from working with Barilla previously on the agency-side of their digital strategy and used her agency experience to develop a process and social media education for Barilla's local marketing teams.
Now, as Barilla's Digital Marketing and Social Media Manager, Jessica works with a team of three.
Led by Senior Director, Beth Reilly, Jessica sits as the social media expert on the team while her teammate, Luis Nieves, focuses on search and shopper marketing. The small team also works closely with their brand marketers, PR, media team, and consumer relations as an extension of their social and digital team.
“We're a small team that's very nimble so we can talk to each other very frequently about what's going on, which is great since everything moves so fast and is so intertwined in social and digital.”
Jessica says social media education is one of the most rewarding challenges she faces in her role.
How you become relevant and create great content is influenced by social listening so you find a relevant space in people's lives.
“I'm constantly working on educating local marketing teams not only in the marketing department, but for anyone who's interested.”
Jessica's team holds quarterly meetings, “lunch and learns,” and full day sessions focused on the basics of social media. Each meeting helps walk employees through Barilla's social presences, their strategy, and the roles of each platform. And sometimes they'll bring in representatives from Facebook, Pinterest, or their social media agencies to talk.
“We're getting a ton of positive results in terms of people showing up, showing interest, and coming away from these education sessions understanding where we're moving the business in the digital and social space.”
In 2013, Jessica managed a crisis on their social channels — she says handling it took a basic job skill: communication.
With a global company crisis, working with people in different regions and time zones to get on the same page was the challenge. She says aligning the company on how they responded to the crisis was critical.
“It's obviously difficult to predict a crisis and to predict how people will respond or interpret what happened. I always suggest having a great team to work with and a great protocol in place as kind of a general guideline or reference of what you do in case something happens.”
Just two years later, the conversation about Barilla is much more positive.
Now, another piece of that communication, social listening, has become central to their strategy.
“We hear to no end about how ‘content is king,' but relevant content and personalization is how you grab people's attention.
“How you become relevant and how you create great content is influenced by social listening so you find a relevant space in people's lives.”
For example, Barilla used social listening to develop a campaign for their Protein Plus line of pasta targeted at parents with picky eaters. They got the idea from trends in conversations about mealtime meltdowns like the popular Tumblog, “Reasons My Son is Crying.”
“What I'm looking forward to the most is exploring what we can do with the changes that platforms have brought us recently.”
Jessica shares, “Every social media channel, whether it's new and emerging or well established, throws us curve balls. I think it's almost for the better.”
She says that with changes to social platforms, they have more opportunities to use social in interesting ways to help drive the business.
Follow Jessica on Twitter and ask about her family's “Schanksgiving” plans for this year. Jessica's been a member of SocialMeida.org since 2014.