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Photos by Nate Fong Follow him on Instagram and check out natefong.com.

Eric Toda has worked with some of the world’s most recognizable brands, from Facebook to Nike to Snapchat. Now he’s the Global Head of Social Marketing and Content at Airbnb — helping the fast-growing company increase its reach and market share through innovative and creative brand marketing campaigns. Over the past year, Airbnb has partnered with Curalate to source user-generated imagery from all around the world to help tell stories from the perspective of travelers and hosts.

In this installment of our UNFILTERED series, we asked Toda about the differences between working on social media platforms vs. marketing for brands; his goal that Airbnb use 100% user generated imagery; and how he achieves a healthy work/life balance.

1. You’ve had an amazing career so far, working with some of the most recognizable companies of the planet. Give us a brief history of your career arc and tell us about your current role at Airbnb?

I’ve been very fortunate to work at high-growth, transformational and some of the most forward-leaning companies of today. I started my career at Facebook when I was 23, and truly learned business there. From Facebook I went to Nike at 28 to lead digital brand marketing for the NFL, MLB and NCAA. That’s where I built upon the foundation from Facebook, with a new skill — world-class brand marketing. I then joined Snapchat to help kickstart their marketing and partnerships organization, which helped guide the product to what you see today. Now today, at Airbnb, I serve as a leader in one of the best marketing organizations in the world, where we are truly making a difference with the stories we tell. In my role, the Global Head of Social Marketing and Content, stories are everything, telling YOUR stories are everything.

2. You’ve worked on the brand side (at Nike and Airbnb) as well as some of the largest social networks ever created (Facebook and Snapchat.) What do you enjoy most about the brand side, and what do you enjoy most about platform side?

I love being on the brand side, the ability to be so creative and develop love with storytelling is something I love doing. On the platform side, I loved being a part of an immovable object — whether that was Facebook or Snapchat — you felt the momentum, it was just about seeing the opportunity.

3. What knowledge have you gained from the platform side that has helped you develop marketing strategies for brands?

The best thing about being from platforms is you know exactly why certain products are created, you know the intent. So being a marketer, I know how to use them. I don’t need to guess, I know why they exist and it’s up to me to do the product justice.

4. You started working with Facebook in 2008. How has content marketing changed for brands since then? What has remained constant?

Today it’s less about making sure the brand name is everywhere, and more about making sure the value of the brand is known, understood, and carried on through the community. The best brands of the beginning are still incredible brands, but the method in which they communicate is different. You still story tell, but it’s about how, why, and to whom.

5. What is the next challenge with regard to photos? Getting great user-generated content? Creating neighborhood guides?

The majority of our content is user generated, and each day I’d like to get that closer to 100%. The challenge is to unlock the creativity within the community to not just storytell all the time, but to storymake. To take a trip, host and experience — that’s storymaking.

6. What efforts is Airbnb making to help educate its audience and encourage them to make truly inspiring content?

We don’t actively encourage our audience to storymake, it’s more inherent to the curiosity of people on social. They see that if they tell their story, we’ll give them attribution and amplification — so in turn, others do the same, and so forth. We create the engine, the community fuels it.

7. What does a normal day look like as the Global Head of Social Marketing and Content?

Wake up
Check Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Team meeting to go over the day ahead.
Check Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Email, meetings, email, approvals.
Check Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Meetings, 1:1’s, Meetings
Check Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Go for a run, eat dinner, respond to emails.
Check Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Sleep

8. It appears that Airbnb has different goals for different social platforms. For example, Instagram wants to inspire travelers while Twitter seems to be used to communicate with them. What are your thoughts on the purpose of each social channel for the brand?

Facebook is reach. Twitter is react. Snapchat is personality. Instagram is beauty. YouTube is record. Pinterest is your hopes.

9. Vertical video is getting more and more ubiquitous as time goes on. In fact, we believe so strongly in the rise of vertical video that we launched Tilt, a new product that allows brands to give their vertical video a longer lifespan and wider distribution. At Airbnb, video must be a big way to draw in potential travelers. How has Airbnb changed its marketing efforts to reflect the fact that people are looking at content mostly on their phones? What are the challenges that go along with that? Are you trying to incorporate more video into your marketing efforts?

We always create content that is right for the medium. If it’s TV, we optimize for that. If it’s phone, we always optimize for people with sound off, vertical formatting, and even down to how it’s viewed in feed versus how it’s viewed when you click once to expand. We always optimize for the viewer, and consider everything the viewer may do. Video is so important, leveraging sight and motion is what the eye is attracted to — it’s how we tell stories.

10. Given the change in trends and content in marketing, what brands are doing it right?

I’m a big brand guy. I love Nike, Apple, Rolex, Audi — all great and incredible storytellers in their own right. They know their audiences, and they know how to evolve within their own comfort zones.

But, I’m also an upstart brand guy. I love Everlane and Bonobos — brands that stand for good, stand for transparency, and their storytelling reflects that.

11. What’s the main way that you’re attempting to build community with your marketing efforts?

Putting the community at the core of our marketing. Whether that’s always amplifying their stories, or having them create on our channels stories generate stories.

12. Happiness is important to the brand. We’ve even seen you write about this on LinkedIn. You’ve had lots of high-level jobs that I’m sure take some early mornings and late evenings. How do you manage stress and what advice do you have for others?

Don’t let people lie to you, work/life balance is one of the hardest things to do, especially when you’re young and trying to build something great. You’ve been told to always outwork the next person, persist and never give up. The hustle is glorified so it’s tough to disconnect.

To counter the masochistic joy I get from the hustle, I disconnect often. Even if it’s for a scheduled hour. I try to spend a lot of time with my wife, @Elyssa, we walk our dog, we cook, and we laugh often. That helps. I run a lot, that helps bring down the stress too.

My advice to anyone is to love what you do, and what you do should bring you fulfillment and happiness. If you don’t have that yet, fight like hell to find it.

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