Why I think the Ford Fiesta Movement rocks (and no, I’m not an “Agent”)

02 September 2009

This is an update on an previous entry on my blog “Ford Fiesta Movement Calling for Agents – but are they agents of change?

In April, Ford tapped 100 top bloggers and gave them a Ford Fiesta for six months as part of a huge blogger engagement program. To enter people had to upload a video that demonstrated why they would be the best ‘Agent’ – ie who had the largest network to tap both online via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc, as well as offline. The 100 successful “Agents” were provided a loaner Ford Fiesta and have since been given missions to complete – all cleverly featuring the Ford Fiesta – which they capture and share via their social networks. From what I can see the program was designed to stimulate grass roots hype online, and as well as allow Ford to participate in authentic conversations about the new model.

I think this campaign is great – I loved it in April and now I really love it! Here’s why:

  • It exemplifies best practice social media engagement in a clever, and yet authentic way. In a time when brands are cautiously stepping into an important new engagement model – a very personal and direct model which couldn’t be more different than traditional advertising methods – Ford has proven a brand can authentically and successfully stimulate online conversation. While there was a little controversy surrounding ‘cash for comment’ initially, many of the participants and other social media advocates stood by the genuine approach of Ford – in no way does Ford control the content so if someone is unhappy with the car they are free to say so, and it is pretty up front what the arrangement is for any one who runs across this content. Not sure how many people would bag out a free car (no such thing as a bad free car my stepdad said when I was begging for my Mustang Convertible when I turned 16!) but from a marketers perspective who likes to control product messages it would still be risky. Really, it is a simple and yet innovative concept – one I believe may (including myself) will replicate parts of. One vlogger sums it up here, she thinks Ford does it best as they have allowed her to feel she is part of something bigger, not just selling out to get free stuff.

NB read more from Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford in today’s USA Today story here. Follow Scott Monty on Twitter (@ScottMonty) - not quite the Ashton Kutcher level but a Social Media celeb indeed.

  • Ford Fiesta Movement is delivering huge results proving that social media is an indispensable business tool. Recently (July 2009) Ford released initial impressions from the campaign including: more than 2.2 million YouTube views, more than 312,000 Flickr views and more than 2 million Twitter impressions, resulting in more than 13.4 million impressions. This highlights how social media is progressed beyond a niche channel – even given different non-youth audiences – and when done well actually drives mass impressions. Obviously I would like to see some more Social measurements that showcase the impact of the conversation, sentiment, changes in brand perception perhaps – but most don’t necessarily reveal that information (well, unless an agency is trying to win an award). I add that the ‘missions’ are a clever way to integrate key messages. In one instance, “Agent Joe” is tasked with filling up the gas tank of his Fiesta (a fuel efficient car) and driving until he runs out of gas. He makes it 432.5 miles.
  • The Hub and Spoke model in practice, a strategic approach to managing an online brand presence. The Ford Fiesta Movement site – or Live Feed they call it - is a great example of what I call the ‘tentacle’ approach (others call it many things, this is not an original theory) – which is about having a strategic presence in many different social networks and online platforms, and aggregating that content back on your own site. This approach empowers people to spread the word for you, and takes into account that people engage on various social networks in different ways. To truly harness the power of social media (key word being social) we need to understand the ecosystem of how people play online, and at the center is where we should sit. When managed strategically and integrating insight derived from key word research, these conversations can be an important factor in driving web site optimisation – a hugely influential piece of the online marketing pie. This is a great reason why Social Media should not be executed in silos with a couple random people on computers punching out tweets – we as an industry need to move beyond this idea and show how we can integrate Social Media activity to deliver back to the business (see point Number 2 above).

So in summary the campaign is great because it’s innovative, strategic and delivers results – what more can we ask for?

I have one thing to say to Ford, Scott Monty and the others behind it – wish I had thought of that…..

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6 Responses to “Why I think the Ford Fiesta Movement rocks (and no, I’m not an “Agent”)”

  1. Scott Monty

    Thanks for the post, Meghan. You’ve clearly given this a lot of thought & analysis. One of my favorite parts of the program that often gets overlooked is that the agents all have a chance to provide feedback to our engineers on a regular basis for the North American version of the car. Let’s not forget that the NA version isn’t in active production, thus giving the team an opportunity to change any of the design before the assembly line starts up. This is true crowdsourcing (albeit with a small crowd).

    Keep up the great blogging!

    Scott Monty
    Global Digital Communications
    Ford Motor Company
    @ScottMonty

  2. Meghan Stuyvenberg

    Thanks for the comment, Scott. I really appreciate when people take time to respond.

    I agree that is an important element, in fact I would say if overlooked in the execution of the campaign would be a big missed opportunity. I look forward to seeing how this feedback is integrated into the production. It reminds me of a lesson I learned working on a blogger engagement program for a client in the mobile industry – we spent a lot of time talking up great new functionality and “beautiful, sleek design” – only to learn that consumers didn’t like it because the shiny surface was impossible to keep clean of fingerprints.…we created phone socks…

    Good luck with the rest of the campaign and your other social media efforts.

    Cheers

  3. Ryan Peal

    Great post Meghan – I too am a big fan of what Ford did with the Fiesta movement, and definitely think it sets a new benchmark for doing a smart, social media ambassador program. I saw in the Detroit Press some of the stats from the program you mentioned above and was blown away. Go Ford!

  4. Sebastian St. George

    GREAT post Meghan! Being an Agent in the Ford Fiesta Movement has really been a great experience. One of the coolest things is that we constantly hear “Oh Wow… that’s a Ford? No way.” Yes way… Ford has opened up a vast array of opportunities with the Fiesta. It’s appeal to a younger audience will open many new doors. Originally our main car was a Ford F150 so it has been great to have a hip cool car with some great graphics, great fuel economy plus it’s so much easier to park than our F150 (but we still love it too!) This Fiesta really is a great car in so many ways. At this point we don’t think we could live without one haa haa it’s true – We plan on buying one… well.. that is unless Ford surprises us :)

    As social media ambassadors for Ford we have done a TON of PR & events for the Fiesta. Check out our last Mission #3 Video – 10 Fashion Shows in 3 weeks

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csY4rZMSTlQ&feature=channel_page

    Great post – keep up the good work

    Sebastian St. George
    Agent 84
    http://www.fiestamovement.com/agents/view/84

  5. ben

    brilliant idea

  6. Katie

    This is excellent!

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