Wunderman UK has been managing the This is Now community on Flickr for a year. Here, one of the group's administrators, Glenn Sturgess, shares his experience and what he's learnt along the way.
This is Now on Flickr is a collaborative project to promote the launch of the new Ford Fiesta. It's just one part of a multi-faceted campaign, both on and offline that stretches across Europe.
The strength and single-mindedness combined with flexibility of the overarching campaign idea – the 'spirit of now' – has made it an easy adaption online and offline. And it always helps that the product itself continues to be a huge success, with the Fiesta out-selling all its European rivals.
How it all fits together
User-generated content via the Flickr group was displayed on the campaign launch site and formed an image the Fiesta as a mosaic of thumbnail images. The mosaic also comprised music content from last.fm, fashion from GQ and Vogue and film from blinkBox.
Other key pieces in the online jigsaw are the This is Now blog, Facebook page and Twitter profile. Working with our partner agency, We Are Social, these channels have both helped to shape the campaign and bring it to a wider audience. Also, they're two-way streets, driving traffic to the Flickr group and adding human interest, news and discussion.
The Fiesta ‘This is Now’ campaign site
This is… how big?
To date, This is Now has over 6,000 members and 7,400 items in the group pool from 60,000 images and videos submitted. That makes it the second largest sponsored group, by far.
In addition, there are 52 discussion threads including hot topics, games and mini-competitions. Overall, these threads have generated over 1,500 separate posts.
So what are the top tips for managing and sustaining this level of activity over many months?
Top 5 tips
1. Communicating passion and staying true to the original idea
Keeping positive about the campaign idea is key. It would have been easy to just build a group and simply accept every item submitted. However, there's a ongoing, unwavering desire for This is Now to be one of the most stunning collections of images on Flickr.
We faced an initial backlash about why we weren't accepting every image and how we were judging them, but this calmed down when people started to see the sheer quality of the items in the pool. The contributors now appreciate the group is being actively managed and moderated and have a better understanding of what's going to catch the editor/curator's eye.
2. Meeting the issues head on
In the face of criticism from members about the efficacy of sponsored groups on Flickr (Ford, in this case), we've continuously engaged with the community's views, particularly the key influencers and more vociferous members. When we've disagreed, we've passionately set out our case and been transparent about where we're coming from. That means we've vigorously supported the idea behind This is Now while making it clear that we're running the group on behalf of Ford.
Our approach is about trying to help people understand the campaign, sharing our belief that it's a collaborative project and demonstrating that we value the community's views and involvement. In the end, we've generated more praise from members than censure. The best piece of advice is to not sit back and let the group discussions unfold. Get in there!
3. Don't stagnate
Maintaining interest around the core idea of 'now' is paramount. Flickr, based on their experience of other groups, were initially sceptical about our ability to keep the group fresh for more than six months. But through a combination of competitions, games, hot topics of discussion, promoting the blog as another members' voice, and highlighting the best stuff in the group, we've kept up the momentum.
4. Maximising and linking communities
Don't underestimate the power of outreach to create a buzz. The success of This is Now on Flickr is partly due to activities outside the group. Notably, the work of We Are Social in reaching out to bloggers (in the areas of art, design, fashion, film and music) has generated a lot of discussion around defining what is 'now'. In turn, though it's never been overt or forcing the idea on people, we've helped to reinvent the Fiesta as a contemporary style icon.
In addition, we've engaged with members of our content partner sites, especially last.fm and blinkbox.com. Some of those people have then joined the group, submitted content or even become guest bloggers.
5. Open to new ideas
There's always a new way to do something, so we've tried out different things with the group. Whether that's sparking up a new discussion topic, building links with other groups or directly contacting non-members whose images we really like and encouraging them to take part in This is Now. This openness is true to the spirit of Flickr, so why fight against it?
No apologies that these tips are simply common sense. With sponsored groups, it's about trying to get the basics of good group administration right. Ultimately, it's about facilitating, engaging and getting people to share – not owning or trying to dictate to a community.
A good place to start for more about Flickr is the site itself – either the help forum, FAQs or at the very least Flickr Community Guidelines. And for further reading, here are a few publications I'd also recommend: