Guest Blog by Annie Rubens, Director of Communications, Wisconsin Builders Association
“Our goal is to humanize the company and connect our employees and fans with each other and in the process provide value.” - Scott Monty, Ford Motor Company
The buzz was palpable for the presentation by special guest Scott Monty (@ScottMonty) from Ford Motor Company for the January 18 Social Media Breakfast Madison meeting. Even before I got in the room, the large line definitely gave me the feeling that this Madison SMB group has solidly established itself as a group that is here to stay and puts on must-attend events.
A packed house was greeted by swag bags from Land’s End, and the tweet stream was filled with expressions of excitement. One I found interesting was from Zimbrick along the lines of: even though we don’t carry Ford, we are here to learn. You can either hide from the competition or learn from them and improve! The back and forth continued with some playful tweets from Scott: careful, @dealerfire, you may not feel that afterward.
After the unique “Welcome to Madison” bowtie flash mob, Scott delved in. “We don’t have our audience’s full trust, nor full attention, he said.” “Social Media levels the playing field, because you’re hearing from your friends instead of brands.” That indeed was an attention getter!
Staying True to Their Roots
A brief history of how Ford has turned around had a lot to do with keeping its roots. The name “Ford” was always strongly associated with founder Henry Ford, and that still is true today. With a new CEO, Ford revamped its strategies and company mission to: One team, one plan, one goal. Prior to this fiefdoms of separate entities characterized their company structure. The new focus added transparency, with a willingness to share information for the benefit of all. In turn the culture became one of people working together in courageous, innovative ways to develop products and give a new way to tell their story. Yet they never lost sight of Ford’s original vision of “opening the highways to all mankind,” a statement that appeared in a Ford advertisement in January, 1925.
The Bridge to Social Media
To bridge into the use of social media Monty quoted Yogi Berra “90 % is showing up, it’s the other half that is hard.” Ford has 50 brand pages on FaceBook (FB), all with different levels of interest. They created a directory to show customers the many options available for interaction. The goal? Be where they are, and offer content specific to their interest and needs.
To guide content, Ford listens to what is “liked” and simply gives them more. This paying attention, with prompt interaction, showed the company was not only listening, but also spoke their language.
Tweets back and forth showed customers were noticing. It was this kind of interactivity that immediately demonstrated successful differentiation. The overarching goal was to humanize the company and connect our employees and fan with each other and provide value in the process.
Mr. Monty then moved onto details about some specific campaigns that employed social media.
The Fiesta was their first global platform car, and at that point was only available overseas. The campaign strategy was to give 100 vehicles to digital influences for 6 months and let them do what they do: Blog, tweet and video their unique experience. Ford created a dedicated website that aired live feed of the posted content. Ford did not edit, nor censor any of the posts.
Results? 6.2 million views, 132,000 handraisers, 750,000 views Flickr, 40 million impressions on Twitter, 30% under 25, 83% new to Ford—all attributed solely to way they were delivering the content.
2011 Explorer Reveal
This was a completely reinvented vehicle, so Ford in turn, wanted to completely reinvent the way it was launched. On a website they created a tab, with a schedule in advance to build up anticipation. Teaser content was posted to give a flavor of what was coming. At every turn, consumers were given choices: watch a video, do a live chat, hop on our wall, and representatives would post responses in real time, further humanizing Ford.
This unique campaign utilizing social media in a variety of platforms and contributors generated more earned media because of process used than if they had run a Super Bowl ad. 99 million total impressions, #1 trending on Twitter, #2 Google trends, 500,000 visits to a site that normally gets 7,000, 1.5x greater completion of build & price forms, hit 50,000 FB likes by end of day, added over 10,000 likes in single day.
Scott’s point: always gave a choice to what content they want to consume and create opportunities for additional engagement, which in turn created greater emotional response.
Marketing’s next great idea? “Let’s use a puppet!” The rationale? With a defined audience of males in their late 20s, the solution was to disrupt, and create an irreverent feel with enough humor to get their attention. Some crowd-pleasing video samples were played that still live on YouTube. 275 million impressions for Focus Doug spoke to a successful effort.
Shaking up the Car Show
At the world’s largest car show Ford invited 150 online influences from 16 countries to join them for two days in Detroit. The bloggers, from a myriad of interests including “green”, design, fashion, parents, etc. were given the royal treatment, museum tours, backstage behind the scenes tours, a “press” conference where they were the press and access to executives. All the writers were treated as traditional journalists, and they in turn passed on the stories about their experience to a wide audience. “Successful companies in social media act more like Dale Carnegie and less like mad men.” “We focused on winning friends, and the influence grew from there.”
This is a site dedicated to the voice of the customer. Ford believes they should give their customers as many and different opportunities to share as possible. “We give them all kinds of opportunities to share, comment, and we don’t edit it. Even if a posting is about a car crash, the comments are usually thanking our engineers for saving their lives.” Sections are available to post ideas, ask questions, comment. A new feature are badges that customers can post which identify their interests, and creates a kind of “club.” Ford then delivers custom content to match the badge. Monty commented that communication from this effort is often sent through email, which is still a relevant tool.
“The power of listening is the opportunity it provides.” – Scott showed an example of a friendly rivalry of tweet chat between Ians pizza and AJ Bombers in Madison. He noted, “you can have fun if that is your brand.”
Some ending thoughts from Scott:
- “Treat social media as if it were a cocktail party. You don’t just barge in, leave a card, and leave the room. No, you scout, listen and blend in. In this environment if you listen and respond accordingly it will be a positive experience for everyone.
- If I can get a customer to feel like we built a relationship with them, trust will follow.
- Remember, social media is not just a campaign, it is a commitment; it is about awareness and consideration, not always just lead generation.
Thank you sponsors for making this event possible: