into large-scale patterns. The strength of a tie is a combination of the amount of time, the emotional intensity, the intimacy (mutual confiding), and the reciprocal services which characterize the tie (Granovetter). Weak Ties As brands continue to infiltrate relations within social networks, the “self - interested logics” of the market may undermine the “sharing/caring” communal ideal and threaten the traditional social contract of the group. Interaction with these brands in terms of adding content, providing comments and spreading messages therefore causes tension for the individual engaged and makes them less likely to share content with their strong ties (Kozinets et al.). Therefore, individuals with many weak ties are best placed to diffuse a difficult innovation like a marketing message. Adoption of a difficult innovation requires a higher threshold of adopters before a global cascade occurs and the diffusion is considered successful (Granovetter). Individuals with many weak ties and strength of personality function as bridges between weakly tied social networks (Schenk and Dobler). Thus, a Facebook user with numerous weakly connected “friends” may be more apt to share a message about Starbucks or send their network a link to join a Facebook fan page. These individuals are ideal for disseminating brand information and helping to complete the meaning manufacture for brand messages.
13 Case Study Analysis What follows is an analysis of the strategies of branded social media campaigns that attempt to leverage interpersonal influence and the two-step flow of information to encourage brand loyalty and increase product sales. The case studies include Ford’s campaign to introduce the new Ford Fiesta, Chevy’s user - generated “Create Your Own Ad” to promote the 2007 Chevy Tahoe, and Starbucks’ u se of innovative social media strategies to engage with consumers including the development of the user-generated suggestion site MyStarbucksIdea. A significant portion of the research and commentary collected for each analysis has come from relevant blogs. Although these blogs are representative of the author’s opinion, there is growing recognition of the legitimacy of blogs, especially concerning social media. Many blogs are ahead of mainstream media in terms of breaking stories in their own industry (Kent) and for an industry that is changing so rapidly, blogs are an appropriate medium to collect and analyze information and opinion about the success of various social media strategies. Ford Fiesta Movement In late April 2009, Ford unveiled a campaign to generate excitement and support for the launch of the Ford Fiesta to be sold starting in the summer of 2010. Ford had not been a player in the small car market since discontinuing the Ford Fiesta in 1997 and at a time when consumers were spending less and more apt to respond well to a small, fuel-efficient vehicle, the Fiesta was seemingly well-positioned to generate substantial interest. However, a successful and profitable