Manufacturers starting to tap in to social networks


This is really exciting.  Mazda has launched a design competition on Facebook.  Participants are being asked to submit a 150 word description of what they would like to see in the next Mazda3.  This follows on to similar efforts that have been launched by Peugeot (on their own site) and BMW (for their telematics software UI).  What’s new about this is instead of doing this one their own website, they are tapping into Facebook as a platform to collect input.  The opportunity to connect directly with customers has been around as long as the Internet, but social networks amplify this effect by getting groups of people with similar interests to give feedback.  This helps the manufacturer by giving them peer filtered feedback.  No longer just singular ideas, but rather ideas that are reinforced (and attenuated) based on the desires of the group.
So, well done Mazda.  But there are a few things you could be doing better:

  1. Build a facebook app.  You have to extend beyond a facebook profile page if you want to get viral.  Just having Mazda in peoples friends list will get you a certain level of exposure, but having an application will get you even more as people add it to their profile.  Personally I pay a lot more attention to my friends profile / application updates than I do to what friends they are adding.  Plus it helps build on the second point below…
  2.  Give the users tools to build their models.  Attaching a JPEG or GIF of a concept drawing is nice, but what if they actually gave them tools to create their models.  They could offer a “Google Sketchup for Styling”.  This would have three benefits: it would get ideas from people that don’t have tools (but do have ideas), it would allow Mazda to set rules (they could put limits on what was created – think design envelopes or component libraries) and it would give Mazda data they could actually suck in directly to their design process.

So, Mazda you get an A+ for effort and B- for execution.  Still best in field from what I have seen so far.
Facebook | MAZDA Design Challenge
Via Autoblog






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