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TheStrategyWeb was given the chance to exchange some questions with Scott Monty, head of social media at FORD Motor Company, about the company’s digital tactics, the social web and their web-strategy.At the Detroit motor show 2010 Ford executives from around the world spent one entire day engaging with Ford Fans and online influencers on social web platforms like Twitter, Facebook, BlogTalkRadio, CoverItLive, and more.
Scott Monty The design and development process was very much a One Ford process. German-based Gunnar Hermann has been the lead for the new global C-car platform. He worked with a team of global engineers, including people such as Jens Ludmann and Jim Hughes, who are the Focus lead engineers in Europe and North America, respectively. While we’ve seen a steady stream of customers in the U.S. showing interest in the current generation of the Focus in Europe, the process for developing a global car was well underway before we implemented our social media strategy.
Q: In which way is the One Ford strategy influenced by your team’s social web activities, or vice versa?
Scott Monty When Alan Mulally joined Ford in September 2006, he set the company on a course of brand consolidation and product planning that incorporated the One Ford vision. Our business plan and communications goals were set, and our social media strategy was developed to support both.
Picture above: FORD CEO Alan Mullaly and Social Media Scott Monty at Detroit motor show C-level social media jam.
Q: What were the biggest challenges when the Ford top-management decided to implement a social web-strategy?
Scott Monty Surprisingly few. There has been no resistance to change, and indeed, there’s been an incredible interest in this developing field by a wide range of our most senior executives. While we’ve enjoyed success in our social media activities over the last year (especially in the U.S.), the challenge ahead of us is how we effectively scale the operations and how we roll it out regionally.
Q: How important is it for companies to have all employees understanding and living the social web engagement of the company?
Scott Monty To the extent that a company is involved in social media and invites a culture of participation and transparency, it’s vitally important. But more than just understanding the tools and platforms; what we’re talking about is cultural change and a transformation in the way we do business. If we can help employees to understand that, we’ll be successful regardless of what social network our strategy is executed on.
Q: How important is web-strategy for the Ford business today?
Scott Monty It is vitally important, as that’s where our customers are. It’s where they do their research and it’s increasingly where they’re having conversations about our brand. We’ve dedicated 25% of our marketing budget to digital and social media – more than twice the rate of others in our industry. And when you consider that consumers trust people like themselves more than companies, it’s vital for us to open up ourselves to them and have them experience our vehicles and tell their networks about us.
Q: Why should companies have a (social) web-strategy in place in the upcoming decade?
Scott Monty The web – particularly the mobile web – is increasingly where people are spending their time. When they first stop to research your product is Google, everything you and your customers do on the web is trackable. And it’s where your company’s reputation is being built, every day.
Q: What advice would you give to companies that think about setting up their social web-strategy?
Scott Monty Listen first. Take time to discover what people are saying about your business and to understand the unwritten rules of the online communities in which your customers participate. Become a member of those sites or networks and spend time looking around. And when you decide it’s time to jump in, resist the temptation to sell, sell, sell. People are on these sites to talk with each other, not to be marketed to. Try to provide value. Be helpful. Ask for feedback. Give them unique and interesting material they can’t get elsewhere. Doing all of this over time will build trust and a deeper relationship with your customer base.
THX Scott for the time and your interesting insights!
About Scott Monty
Scott is head of social media for FORD Company. Or do you want his official title, then here you go: Global Digital & Multimedia Communications Manager. And he is a blogger. As a marketing and communications professional he has worked for a number of industries (healthcare, pharma, biotech, travel, automotive, tech, and communications), and numerous clients, from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Today, he is a strategic advisor on all social media activities for FORD.