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Archive for the ‘networks’ 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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Generally, social media tools give you the power to connect to people, organizations, and companies that you want to follow or support, but it is usually impersonal, not face-to-face and you can create relationships without ever meeting. Some people believe that social media is much too computer based and it takes away from meeting people the “old-fashioned” way.

The Swedish mobile software and design firm, The Astonishing Tribe (TAT), is attempting to bridge this gap with a new facial recognition application available for Android phones that will allow you to take pictures of individuals on your phone and through your app you can search which social networking sites that individual is participating on and gain access to their information.

The new app is called Recognizr. There is a lot of controversy over privacy issues and opposition to this application, but according to TAT, it can only work if both parties have subscribed to the service and you can set specific privacy levels. Privacy concerns also bring up the issue that if you do not want people in social media networks or the Internet to have access to information posted, you should not post it at all.

How does this relate to organizations? Well, Recognizr is available for cell phone manufacturers and cell service providers to buy and distribute to their users; meaning this can generate better user experiences for their customers. You can also, when meeting people in person, take a picture of them and directly to connect to them on their networks. So whether you make a new friend or you are at a business meeting with a guest speaker, you can instantly begin your social media relationship.

Popsci explains how it works with augmented identity, but the video below seems to be the best visual demonstration.

Facebook is also using a similar application using facial recognition where it will search your friends and your networks for pictures with you in them and will tag them for you. It will also tag pictures of your friends and find “unknowns” in your network. This application is called Photo Finder; it follows the privacy settings already set to your Facebook page and also only allows people to see the auto-tagged pictures if they are using the application as well.

Do this mean that, if not now, that our future employers can search our name and see all of the pictures that have been “untagged” if our privacy settings are not as tight as they should be?

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As we all know by now, social media opens up new doors for businesses large and small; but who is pushing the limits and creating their own opportunities and becoming a “Big Brand” in the new world of social media?

Blendtec’s “Will it Blend?” campaign promotes its blender and similar products on YouTube as a way to market in low cost manner. Tom Dickinson, the CEO, attempts to blend objects such as an iPhone, 50 marbles, an air soft gun with bee bees, all of which end up as dust. These videos are short, silly portrayals of how this blender will work with anything you throw into it. Blendtec’s YouTube videos, also Facebook and Twitter pages,  were successful in setting their products apart from others like it in a creative and innovative way using social media that resulted in positive feedback and increased business.

Burger King is another company that has been testing the waters of social media, and marketing in general for that matter. I’m sure you all have seen the string of “Whopper Virgin” commercials on TV and perhaps even visited the website; well, following this campaign they began a Facebook application where you could sacrifice 10 friends by removing them from your friends list, to win a free whopper. The application quickly gained over 20,000 users who sacrificed over 200,000 friends. However, because of privacy issues, Facebook had to take away the application. Burger King did use a different concept than social network users are used to though, because instead of inviting friends to the app or gaining new friends, which is what these networking sites are intended for, they had you delete friends to promote the legendary Whopper.

Another great example of testing social media is Ford when promoting their new Fiesta. They gave 100 people, in their twenties, each models of the car in hopes that they would share their experiences with it over a six month period. None of their volunteers had any experience with advertising and this tactic was especially more risky than those of Blendtec and Burger King, because they were not sending the messages, their customers were. This I think is the true nature of social media, allowing the audience to have control of the messages. Ford could have received a great amount of backlash and a huge tarnish on their reputation, but in this economy and struggling times, they sought to start from the bottom, let the people do the talking for them and hope for the best. It was complete transparency into their flaws and into the true “Ford experience.”

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Creating networks with social media is not something that will happen overnight – it is a commitment, something that takes dedication, time and resources.

Leo Babauta, author of The Power of Less, wrote a guest post on Darren Rowse’s blog explaining the 7 steps it takes for building relationships with social media, blogs particularly. You can’t expect your audience to be sitting around waiting for you to finally start a blog, forum, or some other medium and come to you immediately once you do – you must go to them. You must reach out to your stakeholders. Liana Evans expands on this point, saying that if you communicate often, your community of followers will in return start to trust you will be there and will rely on you to have a post, comment, or tweet. You’ll know then that you have established a connection to your audience.

However, trust comes from more than just “being there” and being reliable to respond. You have to remember that people are taking time out to look at your blog, your Twitter, or maybe Facebook page. Responses and posts must be helpful to your readers; these are made for the purpose to get to know them better, so don’t forget that it’s about them, not you. You also want to encourage discussion, don’t only post your thoughts and facts, but ask readers what they think as well and always remember to thank them for their time, input, and comments.

A thank you always goes a long way and so does positivity when trying to build relationships. A positive attitude toward involving yourself in social media will not only make your networks more attractive, but will also help when presented with negative comments or criticisms. You want to accept criticisms and use tact to reply to them. You do not want to ignore criticisms because then frustration only builds and with social media, you may even be able to help in an immediate and direct manner. FedEx has learned through social media that you can uncover opportunities, and you can do it fast. They have been able to help with shipping frustrations as well as see and track packages within hours of shipping; all which they say could not have been done without their networks.

Like FedEx, you want to show you are listening. Communication is a two-way street and relationships depend on successful communication, therefore you probably want to use other channels than just a blog, or just a Twitter page. E-mails, e-newsletters and the like may give people who don’t have the chance to see every update on your blog a way to still be a part of the communication and to stay involved with your organization. That being said, you also want to involve yourself in others’ blogs and forums. Giving back on blogs will help develop and establish both a community of bloggers and a deeper connection and relationship to your audience – after all, people who respond to blogs, often have their own. Another benefit of being active with social media is that you may be able to pick up on a hot industry topic before many others do, and you can get a jump-start on early communication of that topic!

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