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Archive for the ‘community’ Category

As I discussed in an earlier post, Who’s testing the limits of social media?, Ford promoted its 2009 Euro-spec Fiesta through the social media influences of 100 twenty-somethings. The power was in the hands of the consumers- complete transparency into the functions of the Ford Fiesta- as they blogged, Tweeted, and made videos describing their experiences with the Ford Fiesta. Ford provided free gas to all of the “agents,” the people in charge of creating buzz, and in return they were given tasks each month to then create a “mission video.” Through this first Fiesta Movement, Ford saved millions of dollars by not reaching out to traditional methods of advertising and the exposure and awareness of the new Fiesta topped some models Ford had on the market for 2-3 years.

The first movement generated 6.2 million YouTube views, over 750,000 Flickr views and about 4 million Twitter impressions. Ford has gotten 6,000 reservations for the Fiesta, about half of which are from customers who did not previously own a Ford.

Since the Fiesta Movement worked so well the first time, Ford is attempting a second round to promote the 2011 model. This time around there will not be 100 individuals, but 20 teams of 2 agents and they are also trying to get the movement both on- and off-line. Ford knows that this second movement will not be able to break into as many new opportunities online, so they are trying to expand their awareness into communities. The teams of agents will be holding activities  Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston, Denver, San Diego, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, Orlando, Phoenix, Atlanta and Miami. There will be ways that the agent teams can engage their communities online as well as follow them throughout the program. Their goal for the community-based interaction is that it will reach demographics not on the social media networks and establish new conversations.

Ford allows you to watch videos people have made and even ask drivers questions. Here’s a video of a road trip with the Fiesta, and its drivers, in response to “Mission 1.”

It will be interesting to see how successful the second Fiesta movement will be, in relation to the first, and in the sales of the 2011 model. Will reaching out and interacting with the communities really generate more sales? Is it risky to try another round of a similar movement?

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You could have a very successful business, but being unaware of what not to do could end up tarnishing your reputation or destroying your company all together.

Along with Burger King, there were other instances of failure by companies attempting to use social media innovatively. Skittles for example changed their website homepage to their Twitter feed. It was a constant update of other people opinions but it was passive and not engaging – most importantly, they forgot about their audience and the need to reach out to them to establish the relationship, not the other way around.

This already breaks most of the guidelines I’ve shared before…. They led with a tool. There was no push to create a sense of community with added value in their social media tactics,  or to show interest not only in what your audience says but respond to them – generate a lasting connection deeper than brand recognition. They didn’t show you are listening, or build trust. Another element Skittle’s tactic is missing is transparency; it’s not a look into the company as a whole or into the life of the CEO – there’s no face, no value to the Twitter feed, when they aren’t interacting as well.

What you need to avoid when using social media to build relationships with stakeholders… Even if you aren’t going to implement a social media strategy, you want to listen to what your audience is saying; they are going to talk about you no matter what, avoiding it would only be a missed opportunity. Secondly, if you are going to respond to your audiences’ comments and interact, don’t be fake- you need to be a real person, with real intentions of establishing a relationship. However, you don’t want to be too “real” as to overstep the boundaries of the already established guidelines of these online communities – be an informed user. You also want to avoid thinking of this relationship as a short-term goal or a means to a sale. This means that you should not be thinking in terms of selling your product, but instead, understanding your audience so they make the decision to invest, buy, or follow your brand. Also, your company needs to approach social media together as one; avoid different teams using different media and sending different messages. Lastly, do not forget that you are trying to accomplish a goal with your social media presence; therefore you must have a way to measure your progress.

But it is most important to remember- you’re biggest mistake is fearing the use of social media. Yes, it does take time, experience, and extra responsibility and yes, it does put the power in the hands of your audience.  The risks do not outweigh the benefits. The value of transparency and more intimate relationships is greater than be afraid to allow your employees too much access to the internet during work hours. The negative criticisms are important feedback to work with in terms of bettering your company. A law suit is little to be afraid of if everyone has the right training on social media etiquette and as long as your guidelines for social media interaction reflect those already in place in your organization, the power to have a voice won’t be abused.

Skittles has since changed their website, full of YouTube videos, links to their Facebook and Twitter, eye-catching pictures and invitation to interact. This is a more successful way to engage your customers – plus, it’s an experience where you can almost “Taste the Rainbow!”

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Social media is imperative in building relationships with your stakeholders; the success of your social media strategies depend on how well you know your audience and the “face” behind the organization that wants to get to know them better.

Once you realize that the reason to use social media is because that where your audience is, you can then ask yourself “What is the best technology to reach them?”

You can understand the necessity of utilizing social media tools to grow as an organization in today’s society, but understanding your audience is key – Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn may all be great outlets, but unless your audience is there, you won’t have much success.

Relevant Social Media (video below) tells us that Generations X, Y, and Z are all prevalent on social media networking sites as well as the Baby Boomers, and the World War II generation- that’s all ages ranging from around 13 to 65 and over. The trick is to locate them; target audiences are not only divided by age but interests, professions, location etc.

We all want to create relationships with people who are interested in us as much as we are interested in them – it is no different for an organization. The age of the one-to-many communication is over, organizations must be inviting and engage their audience on a personal level.

The goal of social media is to create a sense of community by providing added value through your social media tactics and build trust with your stakeholders to establish a foundation for a relationship. Relationships with your audience will keep customers or employees coming back, generate word of mouth, and allow the audience to interact with the organization – through this, they are the ones to build your brand.

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