Things I Learned As A Soda by @kimberardi

With over a million Facebook fans and only 8,000 Twitter followers, it wasn’t hard to convince the Marketing Director at my former employer to let me take over the Twitter account. In fact, I believe my exact words to him were “You hate Twitter. I’ll do it.”

I wasn’t the most likely person to manage the account as someone in the Finance Department, but everyone at the company was pitching in outside of their job descriptions, so this was my contribution. And even though I love Excel PivotTables (and believe me, I really sincerely do), this provided me with the opportunity to break up my day a bit while still technically working.

So beginning in July 2013 and ending in March 2014 (when I left the company), I was a soda. These are some of the things I learned.

People like free stuff. This one seems like a given, but I cannot stress enough how much this is true. Announce you are giving something away and people will respond. You can make someone’s day by giving them free things. I loved giving away merchandise and codes for customized soda. On the other hand, I hated to see the reaction of people who lost contests. Sometimes, the despair that people expressed when they lost (is it really losing if you never had it in the first place?) made me just send them things because I felt badly. Finally, people are really not picky about the free stuff they receive. Oh, those booty shorts aren’t actually in men’s sizes? Heck, that’s okay, just go up one size in the women’s!

Even with a gender-neutral name (er, brand), most men assumed I was a man. I was regularly called “Mr.” and “sir,” always by men. I’m not saying this is right or wrong, but it was interesting nonetheless. I don’t think that my tweets would lead anyone to believe that I was a dude. Even the beloved male co-hosts of Borderline Podcast had this faulty logic. Conversely, young women immediately assumed I was a woman.

Being a teenager has changed a lot. I was born in an age when teenagers were forced to befriend one another due to geographic proximity and the worst thing you faced was not seeing your friends because they were in different classes, not different time zones. But I observed teenagers who went to schools in different states (and countries) and only interacted with one another online, commonly remarking that they didn’t talk to anyone in person their age the entire day.

In addition, not only did I grow up with much better music, I didn’t have to deal with boys asking for nudes while simultaneously worrying about my passing my midterms. So while there are some things that exist now I wish I had as a teenager (Netflix would have been nice), I’m definitely not envious of those who have to navigate that terrain now.

Photos of cute animals bring everyone together. My particular soda’s brand was more youth-oriented in its appeal, but our Twitter followers ranged from 15 to 50 years, living in rural and urban areas in various countries, and with an assortment of political and religious beliefs. Their tastes varied in movies, food, music and television. One thing was certain, however — no one can resist a photo of a puppy cuddling a stuffed animal.

I’m glad I’m not paid to do social media. Maintaining the Twitter account was fun because it was an extra thing to do for me in addition to financial statements and SOX compliance, and technically, I could drop it whenever I wanted.

But interacting with other companies quickly made me realize that the marketing world is not for me. How long have you been working at the pizza company? Wait, you are actually an ad agency interested in synergistic viral opportunities? Hey Twitter, can you verify my brand? Oh, I just need to spend a minimum of $20K a week in advertising to guarantee that? Eek, ugh, gross. Can I just go back to posting series of emojis and statements that definitely not vetted by, um, anyone?

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People don’t care if you’re a soda, a hamburger enhancer, or a piece of trash. They just want to connect. I was honestly surprised that people would be interested in interacting with me in any capacity more than a fav or a retweet. But they did. From the school-age kids that wished me well before they headed to class to the regulars that wished me sweet dreams every night, I became a part of their lives. People who never knew my real name (and honestly, never cared to know) confided in me about their parents, jobs, fears, and relationships. I did what I could as a soda bottle: I just listened. I hope they’re all doing okay.

It was an interesting time, those nine months as a soda. In some ways, being a soda made me more human.

If you’re interested in her more human side, you can reach Kim at @kimberardi.

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