By orchestrating videos and posts on social-networking Web sites such as Facebook, Ford Motor Co. says it is generating lots of interest for its upcoming small car, the Fiesta.
For example, 4.8 million people have watched Fiesta-related videos posted on youtube.com by people provided Fiestas by Ford.
Social networking sites, widely used by young people, provide automakers with an inexpensive alternative to traditional media such as TV and radio.
"For basically the cost of renting 100 [European Fiesta] vehicles, we have name awareness on Fiesta that is similar to what an Edge or Flex is after two years of traditional advertising," says Jim Farley, vice president of global marketing and Canada, Mexico and South American operations.
The effort began in April when Ford provided Europe-built Fiestas to 100 social media users to drive for seven months. The users agreed to blog and post videos about their experiences on social networking sites while driving the Fiesta. The users were not paid or told what to say.
Each month the users participated in activities, such as visiting a skateboard park or ziplining. Each user posted at least one video a month -- with or without the car -- about those activities on a social networking site or Ford's fiestamovement.com.
The social networking resulted in more then 600,000 photo views on flickr.com and nearly 3.2 million impressions on twitter.com, the automakers says.