Traditional advertising and social media are getting cozier by the day. So cozy that you might want to call them “friends with benefits.” That guy you overheard talking about his favorite yogurt? That woman blogging and twittering about her awesome new car? Maybe not quite so unbiased – since they got that yogurt and that car for free. Say what you will, getting something for nothing makes a difference. Hence, the benefits.
Solicited word-of-mouth is nothing new; BzzAgent has been around a while, sending people out in the world to comment, share and, well, generate buzz. Now, Ford Fiesta is giving away cars to agents. Hey, if I had a new car for 6 months, I would probably like it too. Ah, that new car smell. Nothing quite like it.
Our response? It's time to embrace your inner skeptic. The message is only as valuable as you allow it to be. These days, everyone has something to share, and it’s not all as innocent as it might seem. As Pete Cashmore wrote in his post "Can Social Media Make Us Buy More Cars?": “In the era of user-generated content, being an informed and skeptical consumer of media is as important as being a skilled creator.” And for every blogger, vlogger, or twitterer commenting on a product, there are ten consumers who need to raise that eyebrow just a little higher.
Of course the real question is: will it work? How skeptical are people these days? Keep watching Ford Fiesta and maybe we'll find out.