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Looking for a Little Third Party Like

The following story from the Metro chronicles the efforts that Ford has taken with regards to social media. I find it not only interesting, but a story that continues to change and evolve as social media becomes more of our lives. Facebook is bringing brands closer to the consumer and letting the consumer take the controls with it comes to brands. Ford was an organization that realized early on the role it needed to play. Read on folks. I have also included some current sponsored posts that Ford Canada has used and showed in my newsfeed as Friends had liked the page.

I note also that Ford is running a contest and interestingly states that “This application is best viewed in Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. Please ensure pop-ups are enabled.” Hmm. I try not to specify what browser people should use – except of course ie8 and below (but that be another blog for another day mates).

From the Metro:


ford facebookBy early 2008, the Ford Motor Company knew something had to be done about social media.

I have no idea how many options the automaker’s brain trust considered. Study social media some more? Jump in headfirst? Hide? Run? Attempt to destroy by clubbing with analog tape recorders?

But Ford ultimately did a very enlightened thing. It created a position called Global Head of Social Media and hired a guy named Scott Monty to fill it.

While Ford did dabble in social media marketing, it wanted its new hire to figure out an over arching social media strategy. Well, he and his team have done that and more. When it comes to using social media, Ford is the most progressive automaker out there, with many groundbreaking campaigns and with dedicated teams interacting with people on Facebook and Twitter.

Monty was recently named one of Forbes Magazine’s Top Ten Social Media Influencers.

We had a chance last week to chew the social media fat with Monty during his trip to the city to speak at an automotive conference. We discussed lots, but here are three Ford social media initiatives and why Monty believes they were ultimately successful.

ford facebook overPeople like us

For the Fiesta Movement, 100 Fiesta vehicles were loaned out to social-media savvy “agents” before the vehicle was even officially introduced. Their videos and blogs and stories went viral.

“The fundamental lesson of Fiesta Movement was let go of your fear, turn it over to your customers and let them tell your story,” said Monty.

Monty added that for this to work, Ford needed a great product and Fiesta was that. But also working in the Movement’s favour was how people particularly value the opinions of people like themselves.

We’ve come to distrust big business and government in a way we didn’t before, noted Monty. So we’re looking more than ever for “third party” validation. We can get that from journalists, academics and analysts and advocates, etc., but “people like us” is the best source.

Turbocharing awareness

The all-new 2011 Ford Explorer was not revealed at an auto show. It was revealed on Facebook.

“We always have advertising that’s running alongside PR, that’s running alongside social media,” said Monty. “But when you get the three pointing in the same direction and all coordinated in the timing, then the media dollars you spend don’t have to work as hard. The level of awareness is already up.”

Puppets and product features

To showcase the all-new 2012 Ford Focus we were introduced to Doug the Orange Puppet Spokesperson and his handler, John. In their short videos, found on YouTube and elsewhere, the narrative is more about Doug and John not jiving with their corporate colleagues than a sales pitch.

“It’s completely un-corporate,” said Monty. Doug the Puppet is known for having an eye for the ladies. John struggles with keeping Doug on his spokesperson task. It’s a character-driven series that just happens to have a Ford Focus as the backdrop.

“We have product placement in our own entertainment series,” said Monty.

According to Monty, a social media initiative doesn’t necessarily have to be about entertainment, but it does need to provide something of value to a consumer.

“We already don’t have their trust, now we’re scrambling for their attention. How do you get their attention? Not by serving them another ad.”