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Archive for the ‘transparency’ Category

Image from MediaBistro: Agency Spy

Aflac has been having a major identity crisis, having difficulty getting their audience to truly understand what it is that they do- if 100 people were asked, only 4 would know.  The duck has been the company’s image through all of their campaigns and when switching to their new ad agency they intend to keep the relevance of the duck. Their new challenge is to generate interactivity, utilize integration marketing, and provide relevant information. Their new campaign, “You Don’t Know Quack,” was launched in January and is an integrated marketing campaign where they, for the first time, are using new social media in addition to traditional media tactics. The “You Don’t Know Quack” campaign has strategies around four markets: consumers, business-to-business, product-specific executions and insurance brokers.  According to Jeff Charney, Aflac’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, they are striving to go from recognition to definition and a household name to a household need, as he explains in this interview with Forbes.

Since they are asking people to “get to know quack,” they want to give the audience a chance to share what they do know about Aflac. Their new consumer generated initiative is, “Aflac in 10 Seconds.” It is a challenge to the people to create a 10-second video describing what it is that Aflac does for its consumers. Videos can be posted to both their company website or on the Aflac duck’s Facebook page. The contest ends on April 18 and anyone over the age of 18 is eligible to win the $25,000 prize. The three-runners up will win $1,000 and all four winners will receive an Aflac snowboard like the one in the promotional video.

Why this campaign should be successful:

Aflac is not changing its brand image in their new campaign, only reconstructing their brand identity in the eyes of the consumer through user-generated videos.

Their goals of interactivity, integration and information are all tied together; they have a very interactive website, the information is given by both the company and users, who are the most widely trusted source, and they integrate the same message into all aspects of their campaign – billboards, social media, TV ads…

They are focusing on their relationship with their audiences. Since the audience is unaware of what Aflac is about, they are putting the power of the message in their hands, building trust on both sides of the relationship.

Ultimately, they are showing their transparency. Trust in their consumers and the idea that they are not changing who they are but be who they are and getting people to see that, stresses their aim to be transparent.

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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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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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