Two Approaches: Shotgun vs Laser

Companies approach social in one of two ways: The first way, companies experiment with little order or goals, the second way, companies have clear goals and intend to invest in a deeper relationship.

1) Shotgun: Toyota’s Yaris Campaign Spreads Chances
While experimentation is always important, companies must do so in the context of a goal, whether it’s to test and learn, or just to prove to management it can be done. Take for example Toyota’s latest campaign, which is much akin to interactive marketing or advertising (not social engagement), where they’ve funded eight agencies to spend $15,000 only on their social marketing campaigns. The goal is to see who can make it work and stick, then they’ll spend more money with the firm that achieves ‘viral’ growth. This shotgun approach has caught the criticism of Laurel Papworth, she’s right at vegas, this is called spreading your bets on the roulette table.

2) Laser: Ford’s Fiesta Movement Amplifies a Smaller Target
On the other hand, take for example the competitive car, the Ford Fiesta, which also plays the young hip efficient car for today’s youth. Ford’s approach was more focused, they put most of their eggs into reaching only 100 drivers that were social savvy influencers to get them to spread the word. This “Fiesta Movement” (NYT) was targeted at social influencers, empowered them although it’s unknown what the final impacts of the expensive loaner car program is.

Web Strategy Matrix: Social Marketing Approaches, Shotgun vs Laser

Shotgun Laser
Description Hiring multiple agencies to conduct social campaigns Building a deeper relationship with a core group of influencers
Similar to Interactive Advertising, “Fishing” Influencer Relations, ‘Friending”
Benefits Efficient way to get started, identify hot spots to pursue. Deeper relationships with core influencers who may spread word of mouth, and become brand evangelists.
Risks Brand burnout on community, risk of appearing disingenuous Spending more resources on a smaller few reduces chances of spread.
Costs Inexpensive. In this case, it was 15k X 8 agenices, for a total of 120k. Costly. Relationship marketing estimated 50-100k in agency costs. Loaning 100 economy cars at 15k each around 1.5 million.
Takeaway Ideal for the company that doesn’t understand social marketing and is willing to test on their own customers. Ideal for company that’s ready to invest time, people and money on relationships.

Brands Should First Start With Understanding Customers

So which way is better? First, let’s start with the most important factor, people. While padding the top line for revenues in a slumping economy continues to be important, it’s important to note that burning out your relationships with your community can cause long-term drain. Rather than test eight campaigns on a community causing ‘brand overload’, first do the research to find out the social behaviors (we call this SocialGraphics), identify who they trust online, and where they are located at online before doing anything. By first starting with data, you can reduce eight campaigns to two, or maybe one, and avoid burning out your brand –and community.

So what does this means to Toyota and Ford?  Toyota’s social efforts come across as young, they’re not sure what they’re doing so they’re hoping to see which (interactive+advertising) agency will figure it out for them.  On the other hand, Ford comes across as slightly more mature as having true influencer relationships (Similar to PR Influence Relations) and spend the time to build these real-world relationships.

Update: Thanks to Barbara for the “Fishing vs Friending” analogy.  Apparently the CEO of Ford read this post, welcome, an honor.