Andy Warhol once posited that in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. I think we need to update that to – in the future everyone and everything will have a Facebook page.
Case in point – E-470.
This is a toll road in Denver. It wants you to be its friend. It provides you with a forum where you can share your love for the open (toll) road. Go ahead – unleash your hidden Jack Kerouac!
Ok, to their credit, the caretakers of E-470 have developed a personality for the road, er, page. They are doing what everyone in social media should be doing – having fun. Why, if I didn’t know any better I would think I am engaging with a real, living, breathing…
no, wait…it’s just a road. A road with over 1200 fans…but a road nonetheless. (Would that make it a road more or less traveled?)
A friend of mine who lives out there forwarded me an email he just received from E-470:
** PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS E-MAIL **
Tell us why you LOVE E-470 and why it’s THE ROAD for you! Upload your video to our Facebook Fan Page by April 30, 2011 and be entered to win. The chosen video will be featured on the E-470 YouTube channel and the winner will receive $150 in EXpressToll credit and a $150 Visa Gift Card. Click here to watch the video for all the exciting details!
The EXpressToll Service Center
If I were a frequent traveller on E-470 I would love to win toll money. But, am I really going to create a You Tube video describing how much I love my E-470 experience?
Uh, no – it’s just a road. It is a conveyance, not a character. A means from getting from point A to point B. We’re not talking a scenic byway here. This is a toll road. A commuter highway.
Memo to E-470. I do not love you. I do not love the experience of driving on you. I certainly do not love paying for that experience. (OK, I don’t live in Denver so I can’t actually say I don’t love E-470. We’ve never met. Maybe, if I spent some time tooling down its asphalt I would change my mind and embrace a road relationship.)
I do live in DC and do drive the Dulles Toll Road. I characterize our relationship as platonic with a hint ennui. Can E-470 offer me more?
Maybe I am different. I do not have a personal affinity for any of my commuting routes. Generally, the only emotion I can summon for a road is disdain – for the traffic, the construction or the idiot drivers.
Will E-470 get people to enter their contests? Absolutely. Any contest – regardless of the prize, execution or interest – will generate some level of response. There are plenty of people out there who enter just for the sake of entering.
But, what is the point? What is the “strategy” of creating regular Facebook contests…for a road? Am I missing some competitive edge here whereby the folks behind E-470 are trying to get drivers to desert their favorite roads for a new route? Is this an awareness strategy or just some transportation workers having fun?
The folks who run E-470 are using Facebook to make finding information easier. If you have ever tried navigating any governmental site (like the Department of Motor Vehicles) you know how difficult it is to find the information you need – quickly. The folks at E-470 are smart in that they are taking their info to where the people are – Facebook.
The reality is that E-470 is not going to create a robust community of fans that are looking to connect with each other and share the common experience of driving on a road. (Except when things go bad – then the Facebook page will turn out to be a grand bitch fest.)
What this proves is that any business, location, brand, nonprofit – thing – can establish a presence in social media. And draw a crowd.
What you do with that crowd is where the rubber meets the road.
Steve Allan, Social Media Specialist