This is Social Media Week’s first year partnering with Ford. This SMW NYC, Ford will be making a very special announcement to help kick off the week. You’ll want to be there! Then make sure you swing by our Global HQ to see what we’re doing together. Why? Well, in addition to their success in the automotive industry, they have made quite a name for themselves as a leader in the social media space. We sat down with Ford’s Global Head of Social Media, Scott Monty, to talk about the past, present and future of the company’s social marketing efforts.
Scott, you tweeted this week that “Ford has now posted a pre-tax operating profit for 14 straight quarters” -— in what ways do you think that Ford’s social and digital efforts have contributed to that sustained level of success?
We’re very fortunate to have a company full of talented employees that are making some of the best Ford vehicles that the market is responding to. From excellent fuel efficiency to state of the art technology and truly breathtaking design, the products are leading our strong financial performance. That we get to amplify and share that product superiority on digital and social is just icing on the cake.
But more than just sharing our business results, our advanced efforts on digital and social are consistent with the kind of brand that people want to associate themselves with. We often say that people trust people like them; well, they want brands that reflect their choices and their lifestyles. So they want fuel efficiency and they want a brand that answers them on social networks, they get both in Ford.
Connected to that success was the relaunch of the Ford Fiesta in 2009–what parts of that campaign have been most inspiring for your team and for your audience
If anything, it was an example for us about how crucial it is to have your product right. Because we were so confident in the performance and reception of the 2009 Fiesta, we knew that turning over the reins to our fans was a natural thing to do. We know that we must never take our eyes off of the importance of creating a quality product, and that when we deliver on that promise, the reaction that we get from consumers is well worth the effort.
Given what you’ve learned from campaigns past, how has your approach to engagement through social media changed?
I can’t really say all that much has changed. Our core principles remain the same: create engaging content, speak like the customer, allow them to speak, and above all, listen. It’s just that the scale on which we do it now is more intense and broad than ever before. And fundamentally, it’s about the human touch: making it clear that there are real people – just like you – who work for Ford or who drive Fords, and that by forging relationships over time, we begin to regain the trust that had been lost.
What do you see in the future for social media as it relates to the automotive industry and for Ford?
It’s tough to say. If I really knew, I’d be a venture capitalist. I think the great opportunity that lies ahead of us is how we bring social beyond a communications and marketing practice and begin to weave it into all areas of the business. We’ll be expected to glide more easily between departments, relying on relationships, knowledge sharing and cloud-based systems, and we’ll have the potential of having a 360-degree view of the customer, from her interaction with Ford to hear public social network updates, to give us a better sense of the customer.
It’s been over six years since Ford’s many agencies consolidated into the Team Detroit megaforce -—from the brand side, how do you feel that consolidation has improved the workflow for Ford and your social team in particular?
It’s refreshing to have a single shop to be able to coordinate with. The efficiencies we’ve seen have allowed us to think about other ways to direct our spending. And when you also consider that WPP’s Social@Ogilvy is our corporate social agency, there’s another aspect there as well. The ability to have the expertise of PR, marketing and social agencies together under one company means that there are checks and balances that work within the system as well.
What can our attendees expect to see from Ford this SMW NYC?
We’re very excited to be back in New York – the city in which we kicked off the Fiesta Movement in 2009, where we revealed the Explorer in 2010 (on a huge mound of dirt in front of Macy’s), and where this summer in Times Square announced the 47 mpg city/highway/combined (EPA estimate) for the 2013 Fusion Hybrid. We’ll be recapping some of our successes and offering lessons for anyone to take away, but also expect to hear a very special announcement that’s perfectly scripted for the SMW crowd.
What do you think is the most exciting thing happening in the emerging technology and/or new media space right now, as it relates to the automotive industry?
I don’t think it’s only specific to automotive, but it’s something that concerns all of us, and that is mobile. After all, we make the ultimate in mobile devices.
The potential that exists within the mobile market – and I’m not talking about apps or mobile-enabled websites – but the personalization that’s possible when consumers allow us to discover information about them and allow us to communicate directly to them on that small screen. The challenge for marketers is how we can continue to retain the trust that we’ve built and not squander it with activities in mobile that we might do just because we can.
This year, our global theme is “Open & Connected: Principles for a Collaborative World.” How does Ford embody or support this idea?
One of the recent announcements that we’re very proud of is the opening of our SYNC AppLink API to the public. At http://developer.ford.com, anyone can get access to our system and begin to design mobile apps for the phone that will integrate with our vehicles. We’re offering engineering support and will even allow people to use the “SYNC in a box” if they don’t have a Ford vehicle to test on. We’ve been innovating for nearly 110 years, and this is the latest development, where we realize that we don’t have a monopoly on good ideas but need to rely on the creativity and efforts that collaboration allows us to do.
Social networking sites are now central to Ford’s customer service. Can you tell us how your team uses social and digital media, the effects social media has had on your CRM, and how you’re measuring your successes?
Our customer service team has a dedicated cadre of social and digital team members who are monitoring our social sites as well as enthusiast forums and consumer issues sites every day. They look for people who may need help and bring them into the system to track them specifically. They’ve been tracking volume handled, cases successfully completed and satisfaction rate. That last metric is one of the most important and one of the most impressive; the latest statistics show that our team has a 92% satisfaction rate from customers they’ve handled, which is even greater than our traditional call center.
In addition, since they perform many of their initial duties in the public eye (rather than behind the scenes as a traditional call center), the added benefit is that the public gets to witness the interaction between the customer service rep and the customer, which only boosts our reputation more.
What is one thing you’d like to imagine yourself doing in 2015?
If they’ll still have me, it would be an honor to continue to serve Ford in some leadership capacity. What that looks like in 2015 will be the result of our entire team’s hard work, the advance of social beyond marketing and communications, and the continued support from the executive leadership team.