Monday, April 20, 2009

How to Improve Ford's Fiesta Movement

Part 2 of 3 of my analysis of Ford's Fiesta Social Media marketing campaign.

In my previous post, I not-so-politely documented my frustration with the Fiesta Movement social media campaign. I had a lot of questions sent my way in the past couple of days, both on and offline, and I think I need to clarify my position on the Fiesta Movement.

I do not hate the campaign; in fact, I think it was thoughtfully conceived – to a degree. The launch was effective; successfully harnessing the power of YouTube. The target market was intelligently selected, pegging 100 highly socially connected individuals who, most likely, act as influencers in the respective social circles. The buzz culminated into an orgy of tweets as social media fan boys/girls caught wind of it. However, I don't see how the hype can be sustained as the campaign heads into its maturity stage (if we're talking in terms of its product lifecycle).

I see the campaign like Fox's 24. We've watched the first 16 hours of Jack Bauer kicking ass and taking names, and right as we are heading into the most important and exciting final 6 hours, the camera cuts to 6 solid hours of watching Jack Bauer sleep (but it's shot in night vision, so it's "edgy"). Having these 100 Agents blog and tweet about their experiences driving the Fiesta just isn't going to peak consumer interest.

This is a problem that is not unique to Ford's Fiesta Movement –it's an epidemic associated with many social media campaigns. Well conceived social media marketing campaigns typically start out hotter than the contestants of the Miss USA pageant, and then die faster than Chris Brown's career. Few have successfully found a way to become sustainable over the life of the campaign and maintain the high performance rather than peaking too soon (that's what she said).

Now that I've talked about what's wrong with the campaign, I want to talk about what could make it better and subsequently, make it more sustainable.

  1. Social Bookmarking and Wikis: The Three Musketeers of social media are Communication (blogs, microblogs, and social networking), Collaboration (Wikis and social bookmarking), and Multimedia (Flickr, YouTube, etc.). The Fiesta movement managed to hit up two of these three, however it neglected such behemoths as Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon. Being able utilize social bookmarking website can help draw crazy, crazy traffic. And yes, the argument would hold that a popular article on Digg may only drive traffic for a few days. However, if you can consistently post interesting, exciting, or humorous articles on these websites, you have consistent traffic that also makes its way into the blogosphere and twitersphere.

  2. Mockumentaries – The Fiesta Movement needs to find a way to spice up the daily postings of its 100 Agents. So rather than writing about their daily experiences with the car, why not have them make mockumentaries poking fun at how much their morning commutes suck. Have the 100 Agents film daily vlogs documenting the horrors of their commutes, finding quirky ways to incorporate the Fiesta into the mix and have viewers vote on which are the funniest/most tragic and the person that gets the most votes gets to keep their car. This could potentially drive traffic from all three of the major social media avenues.
  3. Hire real influencers – Yes, the 100 Agents Ford handpicked all have substantial pull. But they should also consider getting the car into the hands of people that have A-List social media cred – think Andy Samberg and his mega hit crew Lonely Island. Or vlog all stars on YouTube like Michael Buckley and his What the Buck Show, or Philip DeFranco and his channel Sxephil. These two vloggers alone average 300,000+ viewers/post. Not only that, but they are channels that are hugely popular with Gen Y. Get these guys and others on board, and watch the buzz take off!

What suggestions/ideas do you have for the Fiesta Movement to help it sustain a healthy marketing buzz?

--Now Let Me Clear My Throat--

Josh Groth


Scott Monty said...

Josh, thank you for taking the time to dissect our work, but again I have to fault you for not doing your research thoroughly enough.

The "launch" as you call it was merely the announcement that the contest was open. The program doesn't officially launch until today (April 21). You're barely into hour 1 of Jack Bauer's "24."

The content coming from the agents begins now and extends through November of 2009, at the very least. That's when they give the cars back. We haven't completely decided what's going to happen after that, but we do have some months after that to account for, including the official launch of the vehicle sometime in Q2 of
2010. We'll be continuing the relationship with the agents and ensuring that we make the most of it.

Now, to address your other comments:

1) Regarding social bookmarking (I'll handle wikis separately): I'll first note that your blog seems to lack any. Physician, heal thyself?

Since I came to Ford last July, I noted the need for social bookmarking/sharing features on all of our sites. As a result on pages like The Ford Story and (gasp!) The Fiesta Movement, you'll see we use ShareThis. The reason we use such a tool is because we have so many visitors, we don't presume to know which sharing sites they prefer. This includes Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon, as well as Kirtsy, Orkut, Facebook, Friendster, Furl, Mixx, Buzz Up! and more.

Even though you don't address it, a wiki may be an interested outcropping of this campaign. We'll already be feeding the content into the and the Facebook page, and we've got the agents all listed on the Fiesta Movement site to begin with. Perhaps a chronicling of the progress of the campaign, press coverage, and the like, could be included in the wiki. Excellent suggestion! Glad I thought of it. ;-)

2) Again, you miss the point of the program. We're not telling them what to create - anything less and it wouldn't sit well with their audiences. These are influencers who have their own unique brands and their followers know them for what they already produce. We didn't hire 100 mockumentary creators.

3) Are you saying our influencers aren't real? Judson Laipply will certainly take issue with that. We didn't want A-list celebrities. Social media is largely about trust, and we know that people trust people like themselves most, and our agents are a good representation of many of the people we're interested in reaching. Plus, they all *wanted* to be part of this - we didn't have to go out and hire them.

Thank you again for your suggestions. But I'm fully expecting Part 3 in your series to be a retraction / apology for missing some of the key facts of the program. :-)

Scott Monty
Global Digital Communications
Ford Motor Company@ScottMonty

Josh Groth said...

Thank you Scott for your in-depth response – as I hope it sparks some interesting conversation. I of course, now have a response - but you could have guessed that.

In regards to “The Launch,” while you can control when the cars go out to your Agents and when the live feed starts, the viral effect of a social media campaign takes off when the influencers of social media catch wind of it. For example, I first heard about it several weeks ago both online and in the Wall Street Journal. So while your physical launch may occur today, the viral launch began reverberating online several weeks/months ago. Yes, there will be another peak with the live feed, however, are consumers going to care about the updates 1/3/6 months out? If your target market is a generation that is widely described as having a painfully short attention span, how do you plan on holding their attention for 6 solid months?

1. While a ShareThis icon is a needed step, the real issue with social bookmarking is: do you have something that’s intriguing enough that someone will go out of their way to submit the article to one of these websites (and continue to do so for your whole campaign)? More importantly, is what’s submitted interesting enough that once it’s submitted, other members of that social bookmarking website will “vote it up?” It’s one thing to get your article submitted, shoot you could do that on your own – but it’s another thing to get your article/video to the top of the front page of one of these websites. That’s where the traffic/word of mouth is derived from.

2. I understand that the point isn’t to tell them what to create, but instead let them write about their experience with the car. I fall back on my above point, and generating content that others are going to want to pass along once they see it. I personally do not see people wanting to follow 6 months of posts about someone’s experience with a car unless they are a diehard auto enthusiast who is weighing a purchase decision. So how do you have your Agents create content that will have a sustainable viral effect? Hence trying to spice things up with a mockumentary. Sure, that may not be the answer, but is there a way to put a twist on the content to drive traffic, increase the likelihood of being voted on at a social bookmarking site, and being shared in the twittersphere/blogosphere?

3. For clarification, never meant to call to question your Agents. I stated earlier in the article that I thought you did an excellent job picking the right people to be your agents. I also wasn’t suggesting having celebrity spokespeople in place of your Agents – but in addition to. Yes, Social media is all about trust. It’s also a medium dominated by certain celebrities (Andy Samberg, Michael Buckley, etc.) that Gen Y not only admire, but also willingly pass along their content. The A-Listers I suggested could be utilized as the catalysts for driving continual traffic to your Agents websites, where they could then find honest, trustworthy opinions/experiences/reviews of the car – something unique to the Fiesta. This would also help to rope in a broader range of Millennials who wouldn’t consider making a purchase decision until it is deemed “cool” by someone they look up to in the media.

What I’m driving at is: what’s going to be that catalyst for the campaign that gets consumers excited enough to get Fiesta related content to the front page of social bookmarking webpages for you; to the Trending Topics on Twitter and to be interested enough to follow your Agents for 6 months? As stated above, if Millennials typically have short attention spans, how is this campaign going to keeping them interested for the length of the campaign?

Scott Monty said...

This is just the beginning in terms of content. We're nowhere near a peak yet.

1) Your question "do you have something that’s intriguing enough that someone will go out of their way to submit the article to one of these websites?" once again implies that we have something to do with the content creation. We don't. We're the curators. It's up to the agents to create their content - and post it on their own sites, not on ours.

2) Suspend your disbelief for a moment and just watch the program unfold.

3) "In addition to" would have meant paid celebrity spokespeople. We know that will always work. This campaign isn't about that.

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