Michelin encourages drivers to take part in conversation

Michelin tires are well known, but the company wanted to reach out to existing and potential customers by fostering an on- and offline conversation about its products.

Client

Michelin

Agency

BzzAgent

Campaign

Michelin Tires BzzCampaign

Duration

June 11-August 9, 2010

Michelin tires are well known, but the company wanted to reach out to existing and potential customers by fostering an on- and offline conversation about its products.

"We are exploring new communications channels," says Kim Kegler, Michelin's influence marketing manager.

The goal was to spark a dialogue, find out what people are saying about tires, and, in part, to justify the price premium of Michelin tires.

Strategy

Michelin hired BzzAgent, a word- of-mouth marketing agency in Boston that utilizes a network of up to 700,000 volunteers who rate and try out products and then disperse their thoughts on and offline. BzzAgent then measures and collects comments. "Clients come to us to access our audience," says CEO Dave Balter.

BzzAgent engaged 10,000 volunteers for the effort, which focused on tire maintenance and safety, and layered in information about Michelin initiatives and product launches.

Tactics

Each volunteer was sent a kit with a tire-pressure gauge and tread- depth indicator. The program asked them to take part in weekly activities and contests by creating content about tires, whether by video, blogs, or photos, and send it to BzzAgent. The content is ranked and measured, and then the creators move up the ranks for future BzzAgent campaigns.

"The whole theory of Bzz-Agent is based on game theory," explains Balter. "You are using status as a variable to get people to do things. One of the key tactics is to let people choose their own social media tools."

Results

During each campaign time period, BzzAgent tracks and measures the content being created. In this case, there were 3,000-plus tire and Michelin-related Facebook updates and peer-to-peer conversations, 4,231 reported offline discussions, 2,608 product reviews of Michelin tires, and 2,500-plus new "likes" of Michelin's Face-book page. In addition, more than 260 photos and videos were created, along with 100 product reviews on key sites such as tirerack.com and consumerreports.com.

Future

The initiative collected valuable insight for Michelin as it delves farther into social media and "the importance of balancing word of mouth with social media," notes Kegler, adding that she was surprised by how much tire safety resonated with volunteers and the audience. "This is an opportunity to get people to think differently about their tires," she says.

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