Sandy Carter is a VP at IBM. I follow her on Twitter and on her blog. Here is what Sandy once had on her email signature: “Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”
In 2010 Toyota launched what I believe is a brilliant marketing campaign pushing story telling and testimonials to a new 21st century level. I believe they have created a proven business template worth discussing in higher education.
What was different about this campaign? How can this campaign be adapted to market in higher education?
What Toyota Did
The site guides customers through a three-step process: Select Your Car, Tell Your Story and Add Photos and Videos.
Tell Your Story is a guided process: A drop down window allow the customer to select a category for the tale, provide a title, tell their story in written narrative and then locate their story on an interactive Google map.
In addition, Toyota tweeted the opportunity and placed 7 videos on their YouTube channel promoting the campaign.
For a summary check this Facebook app out.
Crowdsource. Tweet. Facebook. Exploit You Tube.
These customer-generated stories are memorable because they
- Demonstrate that Toyota products are different from competitors, that Toyota is a greater value add than other car manufacturers.
- Are short and to the point as well as truthful and transparent. Consider Mike’s story, with photographs. “”My 1994 corolla is a little rough on the outside, but still runs like a champ. The springs are bouncy and much of it has rusted away and been replaced due to good ‘ole CNY winters, but it still gets me around. My friends make fun of it, but when 10 dollars gets you half a tank they quickly change their tone. I love my corolla “
- Are “told” with webcam video or animated film on xtranormal. (Check out Tristan’s video as an example.) In short, the process unlocks the innovation and creativity of a large network of raving fans, to borrow the terminology of Ken Blanchard.
- Are delivered in multiple formats- written narrative, video of different types and mapped onto a Google Map.
In short, the activities model a range of communication (and learning) styles and preferences, a critical component to communication. And they are placed up on a specially created FB page. Given that FB is ubiquitous, that students are on FB before (and sometimes during!) class, that was a smart move. And mapping it with Google Maps adds a sense that you know where the stories physically come from and helps you connect.
The potential raving fan is actually provided input and control as 20 suggestions for story types are provided on a drop down menu.
The stories themselves created a buzz, with others re-telling the story within their own network. (“Do any of your friends own a Toyota? Invite them to share their story here.”)
Authentic stories, from real customers with compelling story lines, appeal to the emotions and shared common interests and experiences that lead others to connect to the brand.
Creative. Innovative. Memorable
The Potential Adaptation
1. Of special interest is
- A clearly defined three-step process (Select Your Car, Tell Your Story and Add Photos and Videos) Selecting Departments will help the readers focus in on those most like themselves in coursework.
- Use of a drop down with suggested story types. Story types might include how I learned of the program, what I did when I needed help, my most memorable classmate, my most memorable instructor, how I survived the hardest course, etc. Asking the story teller to title the story will inherently collect a range of styles ( Tristan’s Toyota Times. A great car for a great family. My Vacation in Bangkok) and thus assists in creating a fresh look.
- Opportunity to send the link to others. Social constructivism assists in getting the message out in a networked fashion, with unexpected (and unpredictable) opportunities.
- Use of a specially designed FB page. This enabled the control of the process and guided the input from the raving fans.(I also support multiple accounts across different YouTube channels specific to departments or schools (i.e., Twitter, YouTube, Facebook accounts for the Engineering and English department, etc
2. Determine themes coming out of submissions and use them for advertising in social media and print. If you are not getting the types of stories on topics you thought you would get, then this process is a reality test against perceived and real impressions, and thus becomes an information input and formative evaluation tool.
What do some other well known,successful crowdsourcing marketing campaigns look like? How can they be adapted to market in higher education?
Doritos and Pepsi Max
What Doritos and Pepsi Max Did-- Posted a number of consumer-made video spots on its website in 2006 and voting chose the top two “Crash the Super Bowl” spots to show on the 2007 Super Bowl. In 2010 they paired up with the PepsiCo brand Pepsi Max. This innovative crowdsourced contest included a FAQ list, a Tool Kit to build the videos, “Ads Dissected- The Anatomy of an Awesome Ad” and “Advice from Vets- Winners of Past Contests”
The Potential Adaptation- Incorporate a FAQ list about the project and a “Toolkit on Telling a Good Story.” (I like the title for the toolkit as The Anatomy of an Awesome Story.)
What Ford Did- In 2009 Ford promoted its Fiesta subcompact on blogs, tweets and Facebook updates of 100 people who bought the cars and shared their experiences online.
The Potential Adaptation- Select 10 students to follow for the month through a range of classes on a FB page created for them. Promote this page with potential students through print and social media. FB is successful because it is about we not you. This campaign is about “we” not “you”as a university and that is what grabs prospective student attention.
In a twist on the concept, set up FB pages for set of program administrators and staff to follow for a month- instructors, student advisors, program designers etc. This provides an opportunity to highlight experts and resources. And I would not advise that it all be “we are the greatest here” information. Truthfulness and transparency are highly valued and help make everyone seem real. I remember a diplomatic colleague in the State Department tell me, “Skip, we are here in Country X to tell the truth about the States- warts and all. If we don’t, our new friends will find us fake and that will become the buzz. Get ahead of the story!” Advice well given.
What are some other ideas for socialmedia in higher education marketing? What are current examples of university use of social media in marketing?
- Stanford takes Facebook a step further with use of “Office Hours”. A Facebook note is posted promoting and describing the professor or faculty member hosting the “office hours.” A video is then posted with the Office Hour host talking about their research or work (or that of their department). Fans then have a chance to ask the host members questions via comments. Cleverly, the host then answers the comments or questions, referring to names asking the question or offering comments in a second, follow up YouTube.
- The University of Texas hosts student blogs called “Longhorn Confidential” in which two students from each grade level blogged about their experiences at school. The public responds to each post via comments.
- Set up a process to follow what students are doing that is creative in the classroom and advertise their work via the social media. For example, Stanford students created a YouTube rap video for a biology class assignment. The school’s News Service shared the video in multiple social media channels.
- Collect tweets with a common hash tag! To accompany the video webcast of its main 2009 commencement ceremony, Vanderbilt University designated a page on its website that gathered commencement tweets that included the #vu2009 hashtag. This allowed students and others to report on the commencement happenings as they were being attended. (Example: “Can I just record the applause and play it back everytime I’m supposed to clap? My hands r tired. #vu2009” via @triciafields).
- The University of Michigan sets up pages for incoming students to make new friends before they arrive on campus. The U of M also creates Facebook groups and Twitter accounts for specific graduating classes. These are excellent selling points to prospective students and keeps up a netowrk after graduation.
- Universities can adapt the business concept of a Day in the Life of …… A Day in the Life of a Global Marketing Manager Howard University (A Day in the Life: Howard University Student Athletes) Phoenix University spins it to a Day in the Life of an instructor (Ronald Gdovic: Life as a Phoenix Faculty)
Social media is about a conversation. No matter what approach, someone must follow up. That requirement must be clear up front to help ensure a successful project or campaign.