Ford driving ahead in social media push

16 October 2012

NEW YORK: Ford, the automaker, believes establishing a presence on a broad range of social media platforms offers clear benefits when it comes to engaging consumers.

Scott Monty, Ford's global head of social media, told Business Insider that it pursued the "Woody Allen Theory of Social Media", reflecting the filmmaker's quote suggesting "80% of success is showing up".

"You need to be where people expect you to be," said Monty. "The point here is to give people choices. To give them choices where and when and how they want to interact with Ford Motor Company."

Ford has around 80 different pages on Facebook alone, and is making use of Twitter for its service unit, and for its various marques. Sites like Instagram and Google+ also form part of this effort.

Other outlets the firm is currently leveraging include Flickr and YouTube, as well as properties with more localised appeal in regions such as Asia. Overall, it has 12m fans worldwide.

A core advantage of Ford's enthusiastic embrace of social media, where it has been an early adopter of many major platforms, is fostering a degree of resilience against a crisis spreading.

"By virtue of being present and being engaged, we are able to talk with customers, rather than having to handle a monumental crisis and pull out some major crisis plan to have to deal with it," Monty said.

The company, which allocates roughly 25% of its marketing budget to digital communications, has over 40 staff across the globe who have a social media component in their job role.

"At this point we haven't really established 'social' as a separate department. It's part of marketing. It's part of communications. It's part of customer service. So nobody owns social at Ford and it's kind of fluid," said Monty.

"I think the advantages are they're more well-connected with what's going on in their particular department," he said. "The negatives are that we don't have people full-time monitoring and engaging. And that's probably a weakness for us."

Ford's main US agency is Team Detroit, housing JWT, Ogilvy, Mindshare, and Wunderman, all part of WPP Group. Blue Hive serves this purpose in Europe, and both work alongside Social@Ogilvy, its main shop for sites like Facebook and Twitter.

"We've pieced it together along the way. And our goal now as we move into 2013 is how do we get more serious about it? How do we put governance in place? How do we begin to build out more easy-to-understand and replicable processes so that everyone on the team is aligned?" Monty said.

Data sourced from Business Insider; additional content by Warc staff