Social Media Campaign

August 8, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized 

Being the dinosaur that I am, this assignment–to critique a current social media campaign–took quite a bit of research. Frankly, I spend very little time on Facebook, even less on Twitter and I am virtually unfamiliar with most others. So, I suppose I’m not exposed to a lot of social media campaigns. I’m not saying that social media isn’t a good thing. I have experienced several Facebook reunions, etc. that have been a real kick. I’m just a novice.

I know businesses are trying to capitalize on social media to advertise their companies and I’ve read about some efforts, but frankly the write-ups concentrate on the “coolness” of interacting and are slim on any data proving the efforts have boosted their bottom line. Especially when you consider that to maintain a vibrant social network presence on Facebook or Twitter takes constant effort (that is, an employee) it seems a lot of folks haven’t quite figured out how to make it work for them. In my field–news–TV stations and newspapers are trying desperately to use social media, but viewership and circulation continues to drop. I’d love to see more examples of true success stories and was hoping this program might provide that (but that’s a topic for another day).

All of that long, curmudgeonly preamble sets up the fact that I found a social media campaign that blew me away for its “coolness” and its potential to really affect revenue. Of course I didn’t know about it until I was doing research for this assignment, but I’m not in the target demographic, so why would I?

Ford is about to introduce a new car in the US at the end of this year, the Fiesta. It’s a subcompact and has been selling in Europe for a few years already. The target audience for this car will be young drivers, 20-somethings, the so-called millenials. At some point, Ford will use traditional advertising on TV and in print and they’ll have Car & Driver review the car, etc. But in advance of that and in advance of the car’s US debut, Ford has given 100 20-somethings a Fiesta to drive for six months

The lucky 100 were chosen from 4,000 who applied to be “agents” for the Ford Fiesta Movement Campaign. The applicants had to show they had a substantial online presence.  The winners get to drive the car for six months and are expected to update, blog and tweet about their life with the vehicle on their own accounts and on the Ford-sponsored Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr accounts.

How many people can cram into a Fiesta? 14. From Flickr.

Ford has promised to keep hands off and let people really write what they think.  This will be an effective way to cut through the advertising glut.  What is written by fellow-20-somethings will be regarded as more genuine and more trustworthy.  Even though they are being given the cars for six months their tweets and blogs and videos will be seen as unbiased and real and has the potential to build real buzz for the Fiesta when it goes on sale in a few months in the US.

Brand agents also are being directed by Ford to take their Fiestas on assignments–to clean up parks, etc–and then to blog and tweet or produce videos.  It all builds the “cool” around the car from the auto-maker that used to be joked about as FORD–Fix Or Repair Daily.

This campaign is (potentially) brilliant.  The photos, blogs and videos, seem fun, which is in itself a positive image for Ford.   Of course we’ll have to see if it really pays off in terms of revenue, but I suspect this campaign will go a long way to convince 20-somethings to at least look at the Fiesta.

Perhaps I can take a page from this campaign if and when I launch TVNewsTalent  If I give away some free coaching sessions or at least offer a cut rate in exchange for young reporters blogging, Facebook and Tweeting about my services, that might bring in some extra business.  In addition I would explore getting my reporting tips blog entries picked up by industry newsletters, like NewsBlues and TVSpy.


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