Assignment 3-Social Networks
The Ford Fiesta case presented a creative and effective way
of utilizing social networking and viral marketing to create interest and
demand for a product in a cost effective manner. Through the use of agents, Ford
achieved 4.3 million YouTube views, 540,000 Flickr views, 2,100 Facebook fans,
5,300 Twitter followers, 27,000 blog posts, 2,300 media stories, 35,000 test
drives, and 162,000 people looking at a Fiesta model at events. This resulted
in pre-launch brand awareness of 38% among 16-24 year olds and 50,000 sales
leads, 97% of which were from people who did not own a Ford model
Contributing to the success of the campaign was the fact that the target market for the car included individuals that actively used social networking. Social networking in itself was not responsible for Ford’s success; rather Ford’s target market for the Fiesta could be best reached via social networking. The target market for the Ford Fiesta was primarily “millennials,” young consumers in the 14-29 age bracket. This age group is among the most technologically savvy, the most involved in social networking, and the least likely to consume traditional media. This age group has become accustomed to user generated content and controls the marketing messages they are exposed to. Viral marketing works best for this age group and the Ford Fiesta Movement allowed Ford to convey the message that the car was fun and stylish by allowing consumers to take control of the brand and the message.
Ford can consider this campaign, or something similar, for
other models if the target market utilizes social networking at an acceptable
usage rate. A recent study provided some interesting statistics on social
networking sites that compared the ages of users from 19 sites. According to
the study, 44% of users across all 19 social networking sites are in the 35-54
age group, while only 27% are in the 18-34 age group. Additionally,
64% of Twitter users are older than 35, 61% of Facebook users are older than
35, the average social network user is 37 and the average Facebook user is 38
At the end of the campaign, there was still 6 months left before the car went on sale. The campaign created brand awareness, interest, and leads, but how much of this would be maintained for 6 months? Consumers could lose interest, forget about the brand, or gain interest in competing offers. To maintain the interest, the agent program should be extended perhaps on a smaller scale. New agents can be given an opportunity to participate to create additional interest in new channels and markets.
Ford should actively engage these leads to maintain interest and convert them to sales. Ford could publish a Ford Fiesta newsletter providing information on the Ford Fiesta movement and updates on when the car will become available. Ford could extend the Ford Fiesta movement with new agents and have those agents complete missions and hold events in the various locations the leads are located. Additionally, Ford can offer its leads the opportunity to pre-order the car with a guaranteed delivery date to provide an incentive for pre-ordering.
This case demonstrated the effective use of social networking independent of third party social networking sites. By building a company website with social networking elements, a company can better control the experience. Operating on Facebook requires the company to conform to the rules, regulations, and infrastructure controlled by Facebook. Engaging consumers in social networking activities on a company sponsored website allows the company to provide a deeper and richer experience.
The Sunsilk Gang of Girls website is very interactive, providing expert information, consumer networking, and interactive elements. Experts provide advice on hair care, products, and fashion; the “makeover machine” allows you to upload a picture and manipulate hair styles, makeup, and accessories, and forums allow members to share stories and offer advice. As consumers interact with the website, the experts, and the community members, they are deepening their relationship with the brand.
This case also demonstrates the importance of reference
groups in marketing. Reference groups refer to relevant groups to which
consumers compare themselves and base purchasing decisions on. Reference groups
can be broken down into three categories
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>Aspirational reference groups-this reference group represents individuals that consumers would like to compare themselves to, for example celebrities and athletes.
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>Associative reference groups-this reference group includes individuals who more realistically represent the consumers equals or near equals, such as family members, co-workers, organization members, etc.
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>Dissociative reference groups-this
reference group represents individuals that the consumer wishes not to relate
to. Dissociative reference groups have the opposite effect on consumer behavior;
members of a dissociative reference group will dissuade consumers from purchasing
The utilization of reference groups in marketing is powerful
for a few reasons. First, consumers are more likely to purchase a product or
service based on a recommendation from a member of a reference group than from
marketing communications. Second, people that have had a good experience with a
product or brand are usually eager to recommend the product or brand to others.
A survey conducted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India revealed
that 93% of respondents expressed their willingness to recommend a product,
service, or brand to others online
Sunsilk was able to utilize all three categories of reference groups to stimulate demand, as follows:
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>Aspirational Groups-Sunsilk recruited Bollywood actress and former Miss World Priyanka Chopra as its brand ambassador. Indian women admire Priyanka giving her significant persuasive power. Additionally, Sunsilk launched sunsilknaturals.com and showcased its Miss India Pageant show, with participants in the pageant show representing aspirational reference groups.
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>Associative Groups-Female consumers in
India play a dominant role in the buying decision process and form the axle of
the Indian household purchase system
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>Dissociative Groups-With 761,674
The effectiveness to which Sunsilk
utilized reference groups is demonstrated by the fact that within 6 months of
its launch, the website attracted more than 500,000 users and increased sales
Opinion leaders are individuals who hold persuasive power
regarding certain topics, and can influence followers to adopt their own
viewpoints. There are two very important classifications of opinion leaders,
liaisons and bridges
Bridges are opinion leaders that belong to one clique and connect that group with another clique. Active members on the Sunsilk Gang of Girls website represent bridges, connecting multiple separate cliques into one large group that can share information and deepen their relationship with the brand together.
Second Life presents an intriguing marketing opportunity.
The benefits of establishing a presence in a virtual world, at least
theoretically, are numerous and include opportunities for market research,
assessment of consumer behavior in real time, real time conversations with
customers, the provision of interactive 3D content for consumers, the ability
to promote the brand, and the ability to reach customers in a new way
As of 2007, Second Life had a reported 7 million users
<![endif]>The number of unique Second Life users is
calculated by subtracting from 7 million reported users the number of users who
have multiple accounts and the number of users who have registered but never
logged in. This number is closer to 4 million, so the relevant total market
size as of 2007 is 4 million users
<![endif]>Out of 4 million unique visitors, only 31.2% of
users are US citizens. If your relevant market is
located exclusively in the US, your relevant market size in Second Life is now
only about 1.25 million users
<![endif]>Out of 4 million unique users, only about 10%
have logged more than 40 hours into the game
This relatively low participation rate is the result of the
hardware and software requirements and a steep learning curve. The hardware
requirements are significant to get the game to run smoothly, software must be
downloaded to the user’s computer, and learning the game requires a significant
amount of time and effort. In contrast, Facebook requires modest hardware
requirements, no downloadable software, and is easy to learn within minutes.
The low participation rates have resulted in the “there’s nobody there problem”
that Chris Anderson, the editor-in-chief of Wired, acknowledged
The expectations for Second Life in terms of growth were
similar to the other social networking sites. Companies quickly established a
presence on Second Life in preparation for this growth and enjoyed the positive
media attention participation was generating. Then, the growth never happened.
From 2007 to 2011, Second Life increased reported users from 7 million to 20
million, representing growth of only 186% over those 4 years
In addition to the
low participation rate and lack of growth, the value of marketing research
comes into question as well. A study conducted in 2011 demonstrated that people
often behave differently in a virtual world than they would in reality
Mercedes, like many other companies, overestimated the growth potential and exposure of Second Life. Accordingly, they left Second Life after a little over a year. Limited participation from users that may or not be the company’s real life target market is likely the reason for the departure, as well as all of the reasons presented above. In 2007, it made sense to establish a presence in Second Life in anticipation of the potential growth, as well as the benefit from the publicity. Now that the growth has never materialized, it is much harder to conceive many business related benefits. However, there are a couple of benefits worth mentioning that appear to be more promising, as follows:
Life as a recruiting tool-Many
companies are using Second Life as a recruiting tool, such as
Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and the Vancouver Police Department. Recruiting on
Second Life eliminates geographical barriers and reduces the time and cost of
interviewing for the hiring company
Life as an educational and training tool- Second Life provides a platform
for relatively inexpensive training for situations that are hard to emulate in
real life, such as emergency Reponses. In 2009, Children’s Memorial Hospital
Chicago approached Centrax, a Chicago e-learning
company and Second Life Solutions provider, to create an exact virtual replica
of the hospital to provide a platform to train staff on various emergence and
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