Decoding the Firefox Guinness Record Marathon and Few Lessons for Startups

Part 2 of 3-part series on Online Communities/Social Media.

FF guiness record

Well, I have been meaning to write about the Firefox Download Day and their grand record. One brand which used Social Media Marketing and an existing community to generate buzz like never before. Of course the Guinness Record helped too.

Guinness and Buzz Marketing

A Guinness World Record is an established buzz marketing strategy for a brand and it isn’t like Firefox is doing a first. Typical record strategies include building the world’s “largest” something and examples of these records can be seen here. The problem with these strategies is they involve a few of the company employees and the buzz generated is through a mention in a few news columns. These record attempts do not really involve the consumers of these brands.

Firefox & Its Guinness Record

Firefox could have also attempted a record like the World’s fastest browser to generate buzz,

but that would have meant the same problem. A few company employees are involved and happy with the coverage in a few news columns.
Firefox instead chose a strategy which was inclusive. It hyped the Download Day with its current community and gave them the badges which they can plonk on blogs to in turn spread the word. The Guinness record was a function of how well the existing community sells the idea to the rest of the world. It was upto the community to spread word about D Day and this strategy paid off by integrating a viral marketing component to the classical buzz marketing approach.

What can Startups learn?

Now Firefox has a huge community of users, but there is also some take away for startups who have just a few 1000 users. What can you do to engage your community and make them spread the message about your product/website. I don’t think your startup should be happy just acquiring users, when what you really need is an army of salesmen.
How can you actually convert your existing community into salesmen?
Jennifer Leggio has a great post on the steps Firefox undertook to spread the message. The key take away is that Firefox relied on their community, involved them and empowered them to be salesmen.There is no single formula to replicate this but startups have no choice but to keep trying.
Appending relevant portions of Jennifer’s post below to make it a convenient read

How did Firefox actually reach Out?

Spread Firefox
The Firefox community portal started out as the original gathering point for community members. Mozilla created a specific Download Day theme for the site where users could get badges to put on blogs as well as “pledge” to download the software on Download Day. Mozilla received 1.7 million pledges and the affiliate button distribution brought 43 million views to the site.
Facebook
The Firefox Facebook fan page has near 115K members. “We seeded the community with links of articles and other information that pointed to the Download Day site,” Kim said. Mozilla took a very similar approach with social networking sites Bebo and Mixi (Japan).
Twitter
Kim says that while Mozilla Firefox’s Twitter page was set up in 2007 it grew tremendously (now with close to 5K followers) and was a great complement to its other efforts. “We’re incredibly happy with the level of activity and response we received from our Twitter followers,” he said.
YouTube
Mozilla produced a series of feature overview videos that were narrated by some of the designers who worked on Firefox 3. From viewing the YouTube comments and ratings it does not appear that the videos gained much traction, however it was a low-cost alternative to doing traditional video advertising.
Mozilla Parties
Mozilla Party Central, a bit of a mashup of Google Maps and Upcoming, is where the company shares news about its launch parties and also gives users the tools to promote and host their own parties. As of last count there have been near 850 parties worldwide, attended by more than 6K people. Mozilla will receive its official Guinness World Record certificate at a party in London this Wednesday.
Mozilla also put energy into traditional public relations efforts, heading on press tour throughout the U.S., Europe, China and Japan. While this was successful as well, Kim says that its Mozilla’s community that truly helped drive Download Day success.

P.S – Firefox could take this bold approach of asking its users to set a record, because there was no record registered in this category before. So irrespective of how many downloads, Firefox and more importantly its community would have always emerged a winner.
Did you catch Firefox on D Day?

[Guest post by Ishwar, a budding entrepreneur currently ‘stealth mode-ing’ his startup idea]

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