Social Media and Marketing- A Match Made in Heaven?

In Social Media by Marius Badenhorst

The Internet is now where most people choose to spend their time, especially on social media sites. Inevitably, that means that companies have had to adapt their customer acquisition and relationship marketing strategies. Consumers’ preferences have evolved over the last few years, so who has taken it upon themselves to try and make social media work to their advantage.

A great example of a company that has embraced the change in consumer preferences is Zappos from the USA. The company, which employs around 1500 employees, currently has 434 employees on Twitter with more joining everyday. This is great exposure for the company, and is a good way to reach each customer in a more personal way.

Robert Scoble visited Zappos headquarters, and made some pretty fascinating discoveries including the firm’s use of social media. These days, new recruits at Zappos are expected to create a Twitter account and post a few times during for the duration of the training period, after which they can choose to stop.

The company is not resting on its social media laurels though. They are already on the lookout for the latest trend and are currently focusing on friendfeed. With their embrace of the Internet and web 2.0 has come tremendous success at grass roots level.

A company that has taken the social media trend and decided to run with it is Ford, according to It seems that the social media phenomenon has passed the automobile industry by. Ford, though, is determined to put that right by launching a marketing campaign for its new Fiesta model, using social media as a platform.

Ford is giving 100 20-somethings each a new Ford Fiesta to test drive for six months. During the six months the test drivers are expected to provide updates in video, audio, text and image form regarding their experiences with the car, for which Ford has set up Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube accounts. The drivers have been told to be completely honest in their updates. According to the head of Ford’s social media division, Scott Monty, it’s the “only way it’s going to work.” He goes on to say,” We won’t tell them what to say, nor will we censor or edit any of their content.”

The company is taking a calculated risk, but one which could pay off quite handsomely. The car has already been successful in Europe. It remains to be seen whether social media will be able to reach and convince the US consumer to give the struggling automaker another try.

The debate on how successful social media will be as a marketing tool is being answered everyday. Ford’s little experiment will provide a good case study for others. I’m sure that everyone is watching with baited breath to see what transpires.

About the Author

Marius Badenhorst