Ford Hopes to Duplicate Fiesta’s Social Media Success for Redesigned Explorer

Ford Motor Company is hoping it can duplicate the success of last summer’s “Fiesta Movement” social media campaign for the 2011 Explorer. The SUV’s Facebook fan page has nearly 140,000 followers, and Explorer communications manager Eric Peterson expects the number to grow as Ford launches the official kickoff of its new social media campaign.

The new Explorer campaign is aimed at enticing Explorer owners to submit user generated content including videos, photos and essays. The videos, photos and essays can be uploaded to the Explorer Facebook page, Web site and Youtube channel. The goal is to highlight various product features as well as unique areas throughout the country.

The best content will be included in online videos and a one-hour documentary which Ford plans to air on television.

Automakers have become increasingly involved in social media as a means of connecting with younger consumers but the new Explorer campaign marks a departure in that it is targeted at a broader audience which includes both “Gen Xers” with families and “baby boomers”.  For example, last summer’s “Fiesta Movement” campaign was specifically targeted at millennials, born after 1986.

The “Fiesta Movement” social media campaign was credited with generating a 50 percent awareness of the Fiesta small car among millenials. By comparison, Ford has spent hundreds of millions of dollars advertising the Ford Fusion through traditional media since 2007 to achieve a lower awareness level.

In 2000, Ford was forced to recall 13.5 million Explorers to replace the factory equipped Firestone tires that were blamed for rollover accidents. That year, Ford sold 445,000 Explorers.  Last year the Explorer only accounted for 61,000 sales and was the No. 1 traded-in vehicle during the federal government’s Cash for Clunkers incentive program.

Peterson said, “We’re trying to build awareness that this is a very different vehicle, really a re-imagined Explorer, compared with the old one, and that takes the depth of engagement that only comes in social media spaces.”

Recent research indicates that social media is fertile ground for marketers looking to connect with more mature buyers. According to Forrester Research, “boomers” and those over 65 represent the fastest-growing segment of social media users. An estimated 47 percent of social media users are over the age of 50.

A study by found that social media use by moms has increased 462 percent since 2006. Forty-four percent of women surveyed said they depend on social media’s word-of-mouth marketing in making their buying decisions, and 73 percent said they feel social media provides them with trustworthy information about products and services.

Speaking about the waning impact of traditional media, Ford’s Chief Marketing Officer James Farley said, “I just don’t think consumers are that interested any more in communication that isn’t give and take on some level, as well as engaging.”

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