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Ford's Bet On Facebook: Did It Pay Off?

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2011 Ford Explorer

2011 Ford Explorer

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A couple of weeks ago, the interwebs were all a-Twitter about Ford's debut of the 2011 Explorer -- not at an auto show, not at a press event, but on Facebook. Unveiling such a massively popular ride in such a non-traditional way was an enormous gamble for Mulally & Co. Did it pan out as planned?

The short answer is: yes, and then some.

Following the reveal on July 26, visits to Ford Explorer pages shot up as much as 104% on some automotive websites. And traffic remained high -- still up as much as 8% four days later.

But what's even more amazing -- or frightening, if you're a network television executive -- is that Ford's Facebook reveal generated a 200% bigger return than most Super Bowl ads, and it did so at a fraction of those commercials' $2.5 million cost. Typically, car companies see their share of shoppers rise about 14% after a Super Bowl commercial, but following the Explorer launch, Ford's share of SUV shoppers jumped a whopping 52%. That pushed the Explorer well past the recently revealed 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee to make it the most-researched SUV of the week.

Of course, Ford didn't go entirely digital on this one. There was a real-world reveal, and since it took place in from of Macy's, at 34th street in Manhattan, it wasn't exactly low-profile. But the buzz surrounding the Explorer launch clearly owes more to Mr. Zuckerberg and his 800-pound gorilla of a social networking site than anything else.


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