Ford drives success with social media

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Ford Motor Company, a 106-year-old mainstay of American manufacturing that has long relied on traditional media to promote its product lines, has a fairly sophisticated approach to social media. The carmaker says its strategy hinges on a dual philosophy of both being present in the conversation and consistency in execution.

“We subscribe to the Woody Allen theory of social media: 90% of social media is just showing up,” said Scott Monty, global digital and communications manager at Ford Motor Company, in his keynote remarks on Sunday at the Direct Marketing Association's DMA09 annual conference. While that presence is important, he added that it is not enough. Marketers need to have a consistent strategy. He said he subscribes to the “Yoga Berra theory,” which is “It's the other half that's hard.”

Monty said Ford's strategy is “to connect and to humanize the company by connecting constituents with Ford employees and with each other when possible, providing value in the process.”

To do so, Ford has social profiles on social networks such as Delicious, Facebook, Flickr, Scribd, Twitter and YouTube. There are ten Twitter accounts alone, including @Ford, @FordMustang, @customerservice, @FordDrivegreen, @FordTrucks and @FordTaurus.

“We live in a 140-character world now, and we have to think accordingly,” Monty said.

TheFordStory.com is its social media hub with interactive elements that promote dialogue with customers and prospects and give them the opportunity to tell their own stories and experiences about the company and its cars. The car company will post a range of customer stories and experiences , blog posts and other external coverage. “We won't cherry pick,” Monty explained. “That is not authentic. We'll post stories that are good, bad and indifferent.”

While many companies are unable to point to precise metrics for measuring social media campaigns, Monty said Ford's return on social media has been significant. In one example, its Fiesta Movement campaign to promote the Ford Fiesta which is not yet available in the US has generated 4.3 million views of Ford video on YouTube, more than 3 million Twitter impressions, and 540,000 views of Flickr photos. A total of 50,000 consumers have registered to receive more information in advance of the car's release. Significantly, 97% of them are not customers.

Ford relied on social media to drive brand awareness rather than traditional advertising. Monty said awareness is at the same level of a nameplate that has been on the market for two to three years.

“It's all with zero advertising dollars. Already it has far exceeded anything we could've predicted,” Monty said.
Other social media efforts have include a Facebook application called You Speak Green that allows consumers to contribute tips on being green and being environmentally conscious; a 10-city series of “Tweet Up” events to promote the Ford Taurus; and “Mustang Stories,” a contest Ford created with JWT Team Detroit and Filmaka, a digital entertainment studio. The contest promoted the 2010 Mustang and drew 400 short film entries from consumers.

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