COLOGNE: Ford is experimenting with various social media platforms to make stronger emotional connections with consumers in Europe, and the US automaker also hopes this will improve the customer experience.

According to Mark Truby, Ford's European vp of communications, the company is trying to overcome consumer apathy in Europe by delivering a more holistic customer experience that covers both pre- and post-sale.

"If you think about mobile messaging apps there's a huge potential to talk directly to consumers, employees and influential people," he said in comments to The Drum.

Truby explained that Ford has been testing WhatsApp, the instant messaging app owned by Facebook, to improve post-messaging at certain motor shows.

He also expressed admiration for Snapchat and its Stories feature as a means of having a "richer" conversation with fans and critics alike.

And although Ford has not yet used Facebook Instant Articles, Truby confirmed that the company is considering whether to use it for content promotion. "The potential is pretty exciting using tools like this where you don't have to leave the platform," he explained.

Ford is also developing a "newsroom" strategy whereby a team of journalists, video designers and other experts support developments with quality content aimed at engaging customers – and not just at the time to buy.

"We want to become better storytellers," said Truby. "Every day we're having meetings about how we can tell a better story; things that are going to excite people and [that they] will want to share."

Ford's focus on building brand loyalty and engagement through digital channels is also extending to its European Driving Skills for Life initiative.

Alessio Franco, communications manager at Ford Europe, told Marketing Week that while the training programme for young drivers remains all about social responsibility, it also provides opportunities for building brand loyalty.

He said Driving Skills for Life was created to save young lives and not to sell cars, but "if it results in more young people buying our cars, and there are some signs it already is, then that's great".

Data sourced from The Drum, Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff