Friday, May 1, 2009

Will Chen of Wisebread: Wise Indeed

**To conclude my analysis of Ford’s Fiesta social media marketing campaign, I sought out the opinions of several social media marketing experts – to have them weigh in on the Fiesta Movement, but also the broader idea of making a social media marketing campaign sustainable over a long period of time (6-12 months)**

The following interview is with Will Chen, the social media marketing director for Killer Aces Blog Network. Their flagship blog, has over one million page views a month. He has run several successful social media campaigns via Digg, reddit, twitter, blogger reviews, and forum development.

How do you keep Gen Y interested in a campaign that is 6 months to a year long?

There are two types of viral content. One type has a high WTF factor that gets a ton of attention. For example, this awesome picture of an eagle was a huge hit last month on Digg and Reddit. It is funny, it is fresh, and in a few more weeks it will be gone.

The second type of viral content sells a specific lifestyle. My favorite example is Where in the Hell is Matt. Matt is a game designer who travels the world and videotapes himself dancing in every location imaginable. People love his videos because we all dream about leaving our dreary cubicle jobs to see the world. Matt's videos started in 2006 and they are still going strong (just a few months ago one of his videos hit the frontpage of Digg, again).

The Fiesta Movement is trying to do the same thing. It is selling the dream of the "college road trip" lifestyle. Sort of a Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance meets MTV's Roadtrip.

A lot of people make travel videos, but none of them did them as creatively as Matt. There are a lot of "Matts" in Ford's campaign. Autoblog reports that Juston Laipply, creator of the über-viral "Evolution of Dance" video applied to be an agent. I think they are going to create some awesome content.

Finally, if Gen X is the "me" generation, then Gen Y must be the "me me me" generation. Everything in their digital life is customized to revolve around them. Pandora plays music based on their tastes. Twitter broadcast the flavor of coffee they drank this morning to all 27 of their friends. They watch only the shows they want on Hulu.

These kind of people want to see a campaign that shamelessly panders to them. The traditional car commercial with a authoritative announcer talking up a car while a butler serves champagne on the sun roof is not going to get the job done. Gen Y people want to see themselves in that car. And Ford will show the Gen Y people, not just themselves, but the best version of themselves they've always secretly hoped to become.

Is a social media really the correct medium for a long campaign?

This movement is designed to brand Fiesta for the long term. Ford isn't just looking for a couple of Digg home runs or mentions on Autoblog. The online viral campaign is probably part of a much larger campaign that looks 1, 3, 5, or 10 years into the future. My marketing budget for Killer Aces Media is probably a drop in the ocean compared to what Ford has to work with, but even I do media plans for up to at least 24 months.

It would be a mistake for Ford to rely completely on social media, but it was shrewd of them to use it as part of a bigger plan. I suspect they plan on sponsoring more traditional things like college sports events, print campaigns, product cobranding, etc.

How do you make word of mouth marketing sustainable for the entire length of the campaign rather than having it die off after people stop blogging/tweeting about it?

Blog posts leave anchor text and links. Due to this campaign, 3 months from now when you Google "fun car for road trip" or "great college ride" you'll see Fiesta at the top of that list. Industry analysts and journalists also use Google to help them find information about products. I personally get tons of media inquiries from journalists who found my site because they saw our site while Googling for "best personal finance blog" or "personal finance forum."

Instead of stuffy marketing material, these analysts and journalists will see a bunch of "testimonials" from users of the car. Some of them might not even be aware of the fact that this was a paid campaign and mistake it for a grassroots type of consumer love.

What Ford needs to do to keep this momentum going is to make sure the campaign evolves beyond existing social media. They need to anticipate game changing applications like Twitter before they become the industry standard. I know Scott's body of work and I think he will have no problem with this.

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