Lesson 8: Rethink…and Rethink Again

Clearly, companies are beginning to use social networking in unprecedented ways.

The Wall Street Journal in its April 8th edition reported that the Ford Motor Company has “picked 100 young, Web-savvy drivers” to get behind the wheel of its new Fiesta for the next six months and report on what they think about this car on sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. Ford is giving them the use of the car and covering their gas and auto insurance costs – all in exchange for online reports of their involvement and experiences with the Fiesta.

One of the most interesting elements of this campaign is that while it will start later this month, the Fiesta will not be available for purchase for about a year!

Ford’s trying to create buzz and attract attention. They also want to reach a new, younger, sophisticated consumer. They selected the 100 participants from 4,000 video submissions. These submissions were graded based on how many followers the participants had, how many platforms they worked across and creativity, video skills and the ability to “hook the viewer” in the first 5 – 10 seconds.

Ford will have no control over the content or the posts. Talk about “driving without a net.” Ford views this as an acceptable risk since most consumers seek out Internet reviews before purchasing a car anyway.

But Ford is not alone in this effort.

Toyota is working to create an online community for its Scion. And in March 2008, before it received a government bailout, GM allocated $1.5 billion dollars to digital and one-to-one marketing.

Closer to home, Intel contacted my 16 year-old son last week. Much like the car companies, Intel is looking to leverage a less traditional form of opinion leaders. Eli writes a blog for teens on technology and Intel wants him to evaluate two computers for them. They’re looking to find out what the next generation of users like or dislike about computers.

It’s clearly a new world and such a new world requires that each of us step outside of our traditional ways of thinking.

And in the end, that may be the most interesting and greatest challenge of all.

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One Comment on “Lesson 8: Rethink…and Rethink Again”

  1. Absolutely! What is so exciting about the perfect storm of 1-our economic status, 2-emerging influence of the Millenials and Gen X as drivers of commerce and purchase decisions and 3-the need for businesses that wish to continue to exist, is that it forces a shift of thinking. These times are causing (smart) decision-makers in all sectors to stop and rethink their thinking, so to speak. How they connected the dots before may not be relevant anymore. Old thinking (and business models) will be seen as lacking contemporary connectedness and therefore value. Gotta get in the game. I’m shifting the way I utilize all that’s out there in Web 2.0 land. I’m not doing it all but I’m prioritizing where I need to shift and focus first and working it into my daily actions in order to make it a habit not only of behavior but more importantly in my thinking.

    The Gen X and Gen y masses seek, engage, communicate and buy based on different criteria and in a different way than the world is used to.

    So, the question becomes: Is your thinking keeping up?

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