Combining careful planning with a few calculated risks, Ford is proving that an integrated social campaign with personality can engage customers. Let’s take a closer look and review the elements of Ford’s latest social campaign The Ford Fiesta Movement and see if we can answer the question as to whether this campaign will help or hurt Ford.
The Campaign Six Months, More Than 600 Experiences and Thousands of Conversations
To reach Generation Y (people age 18-32 who comprise 30% of the Internet-using population) Ford let 100 social influencers – YouTube stars, established bloggers and other creative people who are a part of (or speak to) this generation (many of whom are, oddly enough, extremely attractive) – borrow a Fiesta for six months. From April 21 until November, these people will complete missions that help them document their experiences with the car.
Ford chose participants from a pool of more than 4,000 applicants. By making informed choices, Ford is benefiting from established audiences while those selected receive additional celebrity and exposure through a national campaign. Best of all, audiences are engaging with one of America’s oldest (and currently troubled) brands.
Brand Interaction, Starting the Conversation
OK, so there are all these big social properties involved, but how does the campaign encourage brand interaction?
First, you have 100 people with their individual profiles and channels on YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs talking about their Ford missions. Second you have all these conversations funneled into one website that profiles each campaign participant, which makes it easier to follow the campaign AND join the conversation.
People can easily join in because mission-related content from each agent’s chosen social property appears below the Ford Fiesta Movement profile. When you click on video or posts, you’re taken to that conversation. Or you can use the buttons to go directly to that person’s social media profile. You can also bookmark pages with the “Share This” feature and subscribe to a participant’s posts through an RSS feed.
Despite Jake’s stolen Fiesta (hence the hot air balloon mission) so far this campaign has encouraged interaction by getting others involved in mission planning. Judson Laipply (the comedian responsible for the “Evolution of Dance” You Tube video) got help from Twitter followers in planning a party in his car. (I’m betting there will be dancing — I just hope new Fiestas are roomy.)
More importantly, these agents are helping their generation envision their life with a Fiesta.
Painting a Picture Sells
Ford’s target audience will identify with people in this campaign. Some agents belong on MTV’s Jackass. Others represent responsible Gen-Y’ers who have become respected members of American society. (Agent Roundup Russy is one of the latter, in my opinion.) These agents present a variety of interests and personalities that might help members of this generation connect and engage with the Ford brand.
But what happens if these agents have bad experiences?
Monitoring Social Campaigns
People hear Ford’s voice through the company’s head of social marketing Scott Monty, who oversees this campaign as Global Digital & Multimedia Communications Manager. That’s important because people expect to hear from the company’s representative, as well as the company’s brand loyalists (friends) and brand skeptics (haters). You can’t stop what’s being said, but you can monitor and provide feedback from the company.
Take for example the stolen Fiesta — Scott Monty has posted Twitter updates about the vehicle’s potential whereabouts. This sounds weird, but because the cars are only released in Europe, none of these Fiestas are registered with DMVs. Each one, however, is equipped with a tracker to help Ford keep tabs on vehicle whereabouts. And Jake is encouraging his followers to Tweet whereabouts as well to help police nab the thief.
Creating a Social Personality
Scott Monty is showing us all why it’s important for a company to establish an authentic social personality. As marketers we’re used to representing companies in a way that helps shape their brand reputation. Mr. Monty’s campaigns for Ford have established that companies need a social personality to engage potential customers and create new brand loyalists.
While the Ford Fiesta Movement Campaign is too new to effectively gauge its impact, I would argue that Ford’s social personality has made it a top social brand.
Many “campaigns” have comprised Ford’s social presence. These efforts have led Buzz Study to name the automaker among Twitter, Google and Obama as having the most active web presence in April. Buzz Study specifically mentioned the Fiesta campaign when it also named Ford as the number one social brand in its industry based on conversation volume.
This status wouldn’t have been possible without personality, says Mark Ghuneim, Founder/CEO of digital marketing agency Wiredset and trending tool Trendrr. He used Trendrr to compare how well Ford is trending in the blogosphere compared with other U.S. automakers in a recent Mashable post.
I agree with Ghuneim that by actively responding and following others on Twitter, Mr. Monty is giving Ford a more approachable, less stiff personality. And this latest campaign is yet another example of how integrated social media marketing tactics can create top social brands.
Without risk there is no reward. So as long as Ford’s Fiesta is as good as the company thinks it is and Mr. Monty remains a vigilant moderator, conversations from this campaign could help change how America views this brand. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and my eyes open as this campaign unfolds.
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