10 Social Media Lessons From Ford

Scott Monty, the global head of social media for Ford delivered a compelling keynote presentation at the New Media Expo in Las Vegas that provides valuable lessons for businesses of all sizes.

For the last several years, Ford has been one of the most innovative brands when it comes to online marketing and social media. If you weren’t able to attend New Media Expo, here are the key takeaways that I captured from Scott’s keynote presentation.

1. Let others tell your story

If you have a good product let go of your fear and let others tell your story. Put the story in the hands of the customers. In one case (for a Ford Focus international campaign), Ford gave out 100 cars to 100 people for 6 months. They had “missions” to create and post content for Youtube, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook on a regular basis.

Campaign results:

  • 6.2m video views
  • 750000 flickr views
  • 40 million twitter impressions

Ford also allows drivers to create their own content for Ford Social.

Sub-point: If you don’t have a good product – focusing on fixing that first!

2. Give your customers a direct line into innovation

Ford took a page out of Dell and Starbucks playbook and lets people submit ideas for product innovations. They allow people to submit and vote on project ideas.

Ford idea submissions

3. Social Media is not a campaign – it’s a commitment

Social media is not something you dip into and out of. Once you commit to be part of the conversation you need to stick around! Social media is not a campaign, it’s a commitment to always be there.

4. Provide people with a variety of content choices

Provide options in terms of the format, timing and platform so they can consume it when and how it suits them. Ford does this by creating various types of content (video, blog posts, social media postings) and by allowing people to choose what type of content they want to see more of by selecting a badge that represents their interests.

Ford badges

5. Feel free to change the game

You’re not stuck to the industry rules in terms of how you launch your products. Feel free to innovate. In Ford’s case, they decided not to do the traditional launch of their new, completely re-engineered Explorer at an auto show.

They wanted to “own the day”, so they picked a date (July 26, 2010) and focused all of their resources on that product and that date. That way this launch wouldn’t be lost in all of the noise of an auto show – they would “own the day” of their choice.

6. Integrate earned, owned and paid media

For the re-launch of the Explorer, Ford focused it’s earned, owned and paid media channels to maximize awareness and to drive actions related to the Explorer.

For the Explorer re-launch, they focused ad spend, online content, social media and live events (in 8 cities) on this one event.

7. Engage people with story and personalities

People are compelled by story, personalities and great content. People will engage with personalities and will enjoy, share and talk about stories. They don’t want to hear about product features, but you can integrate them into the story if it still makes sense. Think less like a product company and more like a media company.

For Ford, one of the things they developed was an edgy story-based video series featuring a sock puppet named Doug, targeted a millenials.

Ford Doug Sock Puppet Videos

8. Social media is filled with noise – you need to rise above it

Social media filled with more noise than ever before. In order to rise above it, you need to use many of the strategies mentioned here, including providing compelling stories, engaging with them (not just do one-way communication), and aligning all of your marketing on the same strategic campaigns and launches.

9. People want to be part of something bigger than themselves

Inspire people to do something more than make a purchase. Provide them with an opportunity to contribute to something like product improvement or something that benefits or provides opportunities for others.

10. Take the time to appreciate and celebrate your fans

Thank them by providing value. In some cases, this can be in form of entertainment, a giveaway or participating in a healthy debate.

Which takeaway will you put into practice?

Scott delivered a compelling keynote with valuable lessons for everyone, whether you’re part of a large corporation, a small business or a social media agency.

Which of the lessons was the most valuable for you? Let me know in the comments and share this post with someone who might benefit from it.


Photo Credit: Tom Treanor, Right Mix Marketing (if you use the photos, please link back to the original post and provide photo credit)