When it comes to marketing innovation, Ford Motor Company is ensuring it lives up to one of its more popular brand slogans, “built for the road ahead.” By integrating social media into various facets of the company’s market outreach activities, the auto manufacturer hopes to remain more relevant and connected to today’s car buyers. “We’re in the midst of showcasing the faces of Ford to the world,” said Ford’s Global Digital Communications Manager Scott Monty, describing his firm’s drive into social media marketing in his keynote address on Sunday, Oct. 18 at the DMA09 Conference & Exhibition in San Diego.
During his presentation, “Putting the Car in Karma: Managing Reputation and Online Value,” Monty shared numerous examples of social media campaigns Ford has launched since its initial push into the social media space two years ago. For example, national tweetups—live events for Twitter fans of a particular entity—helped support the introduction of the new Ford Taurus this past summer, generating buzz and awareness via access to test drives, product information and other insider insights that Ford hoped attendees would then talk about on Twitter and other sites.
And then there’s the Ford Fiesta Movement, a large-scale social media campaign that involved handing over the keys to 100 Fiestas to bloggers and others who are active on social media in return for documenting their experiences via videos, photos, tweets, blog posts and more for six months. So far, the effort has generated more than 4.3 million YouTube page views and more than 3 million Twitter impressions. But where the rubber is really hitting the road for Ford is with the 50,000 people who have indicated their interest in the car model once it becomes available in the U.S; 97 percent of these prospects are not current Ford owners, so the venture has helped the company draw in a new audience. Even more important to the firm, said Monty is that, “We’ve got a level of awareness [for the Fiesta] that’s equivalent to that for our current vehicles with zero ad dollars [spent].”
Some of the things Monty reported as being key to achieving high-performance social media campaigns are putting a human face on the brand (with Monty’s guidance, CEO Alan Mulally features prominently in Ford’s audience interactions); zigging when everyone else is zagging, to stand out from the crowd; and being transparent in communications with the online community.
“We’ve been operating at a higher level than the FTC guidelines for some time now,” Monty said, referring to the new parameters the consumer watchdog has set for bloggers’ disclosure of relationships with the brands about which they write.
While social media marketing can seem overwhelming, Monty stressed that you can make this market interaction manageable. For example, he noted, “We can’t touch every customer with the CEO—it’s not realistic.” But Ford can, he explained be strategic about what the CEO responds to personally, with particular emphasis on the key issues being discussed by the marketplace for which the company can boost awareness.