Firefox 3 and community -- How Mozilla used social networking to set a world record

Mozilla is celebrating a new Guinness World Record and launch of Firefox 3. But it isn't cheering alone - its enjoying this victory with the community it credits for helping it to succeed.

Mozilla is currently deep in the heart of its celebration over officially setting a new Guinness World Record for the largest number of software downloads (8,002,530!) in 24 hours for its Firefox 3 browser. But the company isn't cheering alone -- its enjoying this victory with the community it rightfully credits for helping it to succeed.

Mozilla's marketing strategy has historically been word-of-mouth engagement, a method that very creatively began with its 2004 Firefox 1.0 launch. As more social networking venues have opened up and expanded to businesses, Mozilla has adapted to putting up appropriate channels and resources.

Firefox 3 and community — How Mozilla used social networking to set a world record

"Since Firefox is all about the online experience it's a natural fit for folks who are open to social networking," said Paul Kim, vice president of marketing for Mozilla. "We announced Download Day with a very concerted plan to leverage multiple social networks and to seed content on those networks that would drive traffic to the download site."

In doing so, Kim says, it was very important that Mozilla leverage the social applications in a way that was true to its brand, as the company's engagement with its users has always been very authentic and open.

"Social tools have created a very different era for brand communications, and the thing with social media interaction is that people can spot you a mile away if you're using the channels like you would a traditional mass marketing technique," he said. "Social media does no service for existing or future customers if you do not treat it as a human channel with real interaction."

Mozilla used the following methods to promote Firefox 3 Download Day:

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.

"Social media is not an isolated fad; it's becoming a pervasive part of many people's every day media mix and we try hard to participate in ways that are true to the way we've always approached our marketing," Kim said. "We make it fun, we make it easy to participate and we communicate in ways that are authentic -- something our community appreciates."

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(Paul Kim image provided by Mozilla)