Prior to Scott Monty’s joining as the Social Media Head at Ford (that was in 2008), Allan Mulally (Ford President and CEO) did not even know what being on Twitter meant!I said…Hey Allan, do you want to take some questions on Twitter and he goes..What’s Twitter and I told him very briefly and he was like..Yea let’s do it, let’s do it… and I had people (real people) asking questions directly to the CEO of Ford and he was answering them directly! – Scott MontyAnd just look at the way Ford manages its social media reputation today. Facebook, Twitter,Flickr, YouTube, Upcoming, Plancast, Delicious, Scribd – Ford seems to have vroomed its way everywhere on the social space. And it does not end with subscription alone. Ford has a dedicated media team to manage its social media outlets. After all,  it does take quite a good deal of sweat to manage over 10 Twitter accounts, around 12 Facebook profiles and more…

How does Ford use Social Media?

Let’s listen to Scott Monty to understand how Ford uses social media …Are they into blatant promotion or is it just to establish brand affinity?We are not interested in advertising on social networks, we are interested in interacting with people..where people can self-publish and can put up their own content and be their own publishing houses. They have a voice and they expect to be heard and when a large corporation pays attention to them and actually starts conversing with them, they say Wow, Ford is really paying attentionSo, it seems Ford is into some serious promotion which is aggressive yet nimble. Ford’s social media strategy, which is in compliance with the company’s social media engagement rules, is more about developing relationship with customers and prospects, listening to them and helping them in whichever way possible. I myself pounced upon a couple of wall posts and it was predominantly the fans initiating the talkfest. And of course when you let the fans do the talking, you need to manage the grumblings too. Ford steps in wherever they feel the need and they are pretty swift with that…

Ford’s blogging website: The Ford Story

Scott Monty holds that Ford doesn’t necessarily need a blog since it already has a full-blown blogging website – The Ford Story which is a chirpy outlet with inbuilt networking abilities (social media feeds) like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube etc. And as Scott himself puts it,The Ford Story allows people to get all sorts of views about the Ford Motor Company. We bring executives into that, we do live chats, we do articles, we do videos…So, we keep it fresh and interesting…

Challenges that big brands face with social media

Answering Abbey Johnson, a reporter with Web Pro news, Scott Monty points out two main challenges that most big brands face with social media:One is not having a senior leadership support behind it…With the senior leadership support that we’ve got, it’s a strategic priority for the company and it’s a part of how we tell our story…the second thing is that there are a lot of companies out there that focus too much on using this as a marketing channel…as just another way to push a message and its really not about that…It’s about engaging with people, building relationships over time so that people begin to trust you.

How have social media campaigns benefited Ford?

When the Social Media Head at Ford explicitly relates social media campaigns and improved sales, what more do we need? Here’s Scott Monty clearly talking about how the Fiesta Movement created more conversions for the company:With the Fiesta Movement we gave 100 people 100 cars for six months and they were socially vibrant people so they did what they always do…they blogged, they tweeted and they made content and ultimately we had 7+ million views of their videos on YouTube Ultimately a hundred and thirty thousand people registered on Fiesta movement.com to find out more about the vehicle…And it absolutely had a material impact on sales because it was other people telling people about Ford and not Ford telling people about Ford… And what we saw in terms of people making reservations and converting those reservations into actual orders – A ten times multiplier from the normal rate we would see with any normal vehicle launchAnother major feat for Ford was the virtual launch of Ford explorer. Although fully online, it was presented to the people much like a real auto-show. So how did it actually translate?For example Ford Explorer which we revealed on Facebook instead of an auto-show… For about six weeks, we put out teaser images of the vehicle – stuff that they could not get anywhere else. And we asked them that if we could get 30, 000 people to like the Ford Explorer by a certain date, then we would start a sweepstakes and then by the end of the year we would have people entered for a chance to win a Ford Explorer…  And when we actually revealed the vehicle… on Facebook on a single day we had a greater impact than a Super Bowl ad because we had built this relationship and built an expectation with people over a period of time.

Ford’s escapade! Who is Doug?

Warning: If this makes you spit your tea on your PC, we won’t be responsible. Doug was the Official Ford Spokesman Spokespuppet. Yes, a vibrant, orange-coloured puppet, Doug had been travelling around, meeting people, regaling them and telling them more about Ford..Doug is being retired from active duty as a branded entertainment experiment for the brand, after a phenomenal 6 months run of webisodes. We targeted the generation of 10,000 Facebook fans for Doug; he now has 43,000. People have engaged with Doug on Facebook at a rate three times greater than for the vehicle itself. About 40 percent of online conversation about Focus has been about Doug. We’ve even had a handful of people say that they bought a Focus just because of Doug. The story had an arc, and we’ve hit on all the things we wanted to hit on – Scott MontySo, you see Ford is deep into the social circle. It’s strategic priority within the company and the results are there for all of us to see! What’s your take on Ford’s social engagement?

Ricky Goswami

Ricky is an Award winning Ecommerce Marketing expert and Digital Marketing strategist, with 15+ years of experience of consulting Small companies to Fortune 100 companies. He is Co-Founder at KeywordCountry (@kwdcountry) and Smarter.Codes.